Fire boundary is a term which originates from the world of city planners and town developers in post-war years. It is a unique and specific Rotterdam concept. On the map of the Rudimentary Plan Reconstruction Inner City Rotterdam of engineer C. van Traa, dating from 1946, the term fire boundary is used for the first time in official documents. The area was indicated on the map with a modest dotted line.
In May 2006 the City Council of Rotterdam has decided to physically mark the periphery of the bombardment of May 14th 1940 and the devastating fires which followed thereafter. As a “lieu de mémoire” this so called “fire boundary” makes clear with one blink of the eye why Rotterdam now has a modern city centre.
For the benefit of the “Fire Boundary project” in 2007 a survey has been done by the Housing and Urban Development Department (dS+V), the Rotterdam City Archives and the Museum of Rotterdam, to register the complete “fire boundary” which encloses the old historical centre and parts of northern Rotterdam, the districts of Crooswijk and Kralingen. This survey has resulted in the edition of “The Fire Boundary of 14th May 1940”, a book containing several maps of the “fire boundary” and photo’s of buildings that survived the bombardment.
Bombs outside the fire boundary
On 14th May and during the first days of war, bombs have fallen on the city at a number of places outside the fire boundary. For the greater part this concerned small areas, isolated hits, sometimes the size of a building or property, spread over the city. At two locations however, the damage was substantial: in the Waterloostraat and surroundings and on and along the Wilhelmina pier. These areas are also included in the Fire Boundary Project.
In 2007 a multiple design assignment for the marking of the fire boundary was commissioned to four designers. Bureau West 8 of Adriaan Geuze made the winning design.