Lowlands Correspondent: Gaia Son – Pakhuismeesteren – Celebes, Borneo, Java, Sumatra – Kop de Zuid, Rotterdam NL
Pakhuismeesteren (warehouse supervisors) is a former business and warehouse in the harbor area of Rotterdam in the south of centrum district called Kop van Zuid or South Bank. This post-colonial relic, on which the Indonesian islands of Celebes, Borneo, Java, Sumatra are written, stands on the Wilhelmina Pier for only about 70 years. Research has shown that a prior building with a wooden pile foundation once stood here from 1898 and burned down in 1937. This abandoned non-landmarked pre-WWII structure dates from about 1940 and is currently being renovated to feature a multi-purpose first floor with rented shops and offices, a catering hall, and 24 units of residential living spaces.¹
The now defunct Pakhuismeesteren business was established in 1818 after the 1800 dissolution of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) which after an almost two-century reign of colonial plunder, fell into ruins by way of corruption and mismanagement. Originally the “Pakhuismeester of Tea,” the company took on the interests of the Rotterdam VOC’s tea and spice trade. After three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia declared its independence in 1945 which was finally recognized by the Netherlands in 1949. Rotterdam was the busiest world port since the early sixties until being surpassed by Shanghai in 2004.