I thought I knew it by heart but the Weena still holds secrets for me. This sign caught my eye last week during the ‘Wonderful Weena Walk’ organized by OMI Rotterdam led architectural historian Johanna van Doorn and yours truly. The sign is the Dutch equivalent of ‘No Trespassing’. So far, so good, to be expected here as this is a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS), as I have pointed out in one of my previous posts about the Weenahouse. But why is this sign up there, tucked away, out of direct sight?
Typically, signs like these are placed in full view to make people aware they are entering a semi-public or even private space, where different rules apply, and you can be removed from the premises if you are not wanted, for whatever reasons. I doubt the consideration to put it up in such an inconspicuous spot is for aesthetic reasons: the building, designed by Klunder architects in the nineties of the previous century, is not exactly known for its architectural qualities.
The odd location reveals the true incentive for this sign being up there, out of view of passers-by. For it is not aimed at the general public but is meant to deter homeless people and other urban outcasts from taking refuge here.
This specific spot is an urban nook, a receded corner providing shelter from rain and wind. Furthermore, it is out of direct view of the main urban flow. Thus, it is an appealing spot for homeless people seeking shelter. The sign provides the owner of the building a stick to punch with, a legal argument, just in case somebody is caught in the act.
As we continued the walk the anti-pigeon spikes on the other side of the very same column caught my eye, and an awkward analogy popped into my mind: homeless people are just as unwanted here as pigeons, their non-human equivalent, so to speak.