Trees of Rotterdam

Press images
Film-making process
About the directors

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A breathtaking journey through the skies, streets and trees of Rotterdam, telling the story of past, present, and possible futures of trees in the city.

Filmed in a single shot, captured using high-tech point cloud scanners, the film takes the audience through the cityscape from a series of unique viewpoints. The camera moves over, under, and through the urban environment, whilst narration from experts (an architectural historian, a tree advocate, a naturalist and the city council tree expert) offers insights into how the urban and natural can co-exist.

In these times of environmental catastrophe, what can we learn from nature that already surrounds us? This film asks the audience to question their own relationship with trees: When’s the last time you really looked at a tree?


Rotterdam Coolsingel
Travelling inside London plane (Lijnbaan)
Atlas cedar (Heemraadssingel)
London plane (Lijnbaan)
Burgermeister Hoffmanplein



12 July – 22 September 2024
A Tree (exhibition)
Onomatopee, Eindhoven
More information

Past screenings

Friday 26 January 2024, 16:30
LantarenVenster 2, Rotterdam
International Film Festival Rotterdam

Friday 26 January 2024, 21:30
LantarenVenster 1, Rotterdam
International Film Festival Rotterdam

Tuesday 30 January 2024, 21:00
Worm, Rotterdam
with Q&A, as part of ARTxIFFR SOLD OUT

Thursday 01 February 2024, 13:30
Cinerama 2, Rotterdam
International Film Festival Rotterdam
with Q&A  

Friday 02 February 2024, 19:00
Podium Islemunda - Filmzaal, Rotterdam
International Film Festival Rotterdam

Saturday 03 February 2024, 11:00
Podium Islemunda - Filmzaal, Rotterdam
International Film Festival Rotterdam

Wednesday 15 May 2024
Worm, Rotterdam
Off Screen X Art Office

Saturday 8 June 2024, 20:00
Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam
Part of Rotterdam Architecture Month  

Technical information

12 minutes 35 seconds

4k Apple ProRes / DCP


due to fine details within the pointclouds, the film must be run from a ProRes/DCP file


Film-making process

Laser scanning

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) is a technology that uses laser pulses to create ‘point clouds’ to collect measurements, and in the process capture a detailed 3D structure of an environment. This technique is increasingly used in tree measurement, making for innovative and in-depth studies of forested environments which contribute to new environmental understandings. 

Point clouds 

Working with Jens van der Zee at Wageningen University, we took scans of fourteen trees in Rotterdam for Alice’s book. Whilst looking at the resulting point clouds, it was clear that the TLS machines captured the surrounding area—buildings, bridges, parks—in incredible, millimetre perfect detail. Trees took the form of architectural monuments in their own right; a fundamental part of the city. 

Five tree scan-series were stitched together to create a 3D map of Rotterdam; a vast scene that could be navigated and filmed with a virtual camera at all angles in virtual space. This enabled exploration that would be otherwise impossible—even using the most advanced drone technology—using a one-shot movement that captured the dynamism of the trees in their environment, and so creating an unprecedented multi-layered narrative of the trees in Rotterdam.

Expert interviews

Four experts were interviewed to give their different perspectives on trees in the city; an architectural historian, a tree advocate, a naturalist and the city council tree expert. We wove together their stories, along with a series of thought-provoking questions. This offers the viewer multiple ways of understanding and thinking about the natural-urban environment, whilst exploring the city from above and below. 

Experts: Herman van Bergeijk, architectural historian TU Delft / Ronald Loch, tree expert, Municipality Rotterdam / Kees Moeliker, Director of Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam / Charlotte van der Heiden, Cool Down City.


Terrestrial Laser Scanning equipment

Caption 2
Jens van der Zee scanning trees at Hoffmanplien, Rotterdam

Exploring pointclouds in a virtual environment


Alice Ladenburg

Alice Ladenburg is an artist and researcher based in Rotterdam. Posing questions concerning the nature of individual observation and knowledge, she combines auto-ethnographic research with scientific methods to foster a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the world we live in. She often works collaboratively and across disciplines presenting work at institutions including: Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University; School of Geosciences, Edinburgh University; RADIUS Center for Contemporary Art and Ecology, Delft; Amsterdam Research Institute for the Arts & Sciences, Amsterdam University of the Arts; WAAG FutureLab, Amsterdam.

Ollie Palmer

Ollie Palmer is an artist, filmmaker, and educator based in Rotterdam. His work critically questions technology and control systems through designing absurd machines, software, films, and performances, which have been exhibited in galleries and film festivals worldwide. He was artist-in-residence at the Palais de Tokyo’s research lab, and holds a PhD by Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL. He has taught in leading art and architecture schools in the UK, the US, and the Netherlands, and is currently a researcher in the Situated Art and Design group at the Centre for Applied Research in Art, Design, and Technology.


A film by

Alice Ladenburg and Ollie Palmer

Featuring the voices of

Herman van Bergeijk
Architectural Historian, TU Delft

Charlotte van der Heiden
Director, Cool Down City

Ronald Loch
Tree expert, Municipality of Rotterdam

Kees Moeliker
Director, Natural History Museum Rotterdam

Adriaan Wormgoor
Voiceover for Ronald Loch

Phoebe Ladenburg

Written, produced, and directed by

Alice Ladenburg and Ollie Palmer

Original concept

Alice Ladenburg
From the book Fourteen Trees of Rotterdam (2021) by Alice Ladenburg, published by The Printroom Rotterdam and Peter Foolen Editions

Voiceover sound recording

Ollie Palmer

Phoebe Ladenburg

Location audio recording

Alice Ladenburg


Scanning undertaken and processed by

Jens van der Zee
Laboratory for Geo-information science and remote sensing, Wageningen University

Scans originally collected for

Fourteen Trees of Rotterdam (2021) by Alice Ladenburg

Scan post-processing and visualisation
cinematography and editing

Ollie Palmer

Made with


In collaboration with

Horse Chestnut
51.91403, 4.49585 (Burgermeister Hoffmanplein)
Aesculus Hippocastanum

Golden Rain
51.9122, 4.48426 (Leuvehooftpark)
Koelreuteria paniculata

Oriental plane tree
51.9206, 4.47994 (Coolsingel)
Platanus orientalis

London plane
51.9192, 4.47764 (Lijnbaan)
Platanus acerifolia

Atlas cedar
51.91548, 4.4545 (Heemraadssingel)
Cedrus atlantica

Supported by

Back to the top© Alice Ladenburg and Ollie Palmer 2023-24