- Rotterdam Rooftop Walk or Rotterdam as you have never seen it
The temporary installation, built by Dutch Steigers, is an initiative of the Rotterdam Rooftop Days, an organisation which, since 2015, has been promoting access to the rooftops of the Dutch city every year on the first weekend of June, with the concept and design developed in collaboration with the Dutch architecture firm MVRDV.
In fact, MVRDV has been investigating solutions to the shortage of space in the city for some time now, to help prevent the progressive urbanisation of rural areas. A more conscious use of rooftops could make an important contribution not only to the densification of our cities, but also to solving important issues such as climate change, the housing crisis and the transition to renewable energy. In this sense, it is interesting to note that in Rotterdam alone, as much as 18.5 km2 of flat roofs remain unused – a truly remarkable area! It is no coincidence that many creative minds have been looking to demonstrate how roofs can contribute to a sustainable, healthy and liveable city, from a virtual village, to a green project for the roof of the Bijenkorf department store, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1957 and a landmark building of the reconstruction of Rotterdam.
The 2022 Rooftop Walk, an orange carpet 30 metres high and 600 metres long in the centre of Rotterdam, culminating between the World Trade Centre and the Coolsingel, is inspired by another project conceived by the MVRDV studio in Rotterdam, the Stairs to Kriterion installation completed in 2016: a staircase that allowed access to the roof of the Chamber of Commerce, adjacent to Central Station, for the 75 year celebration of the reconstruction of Rotterdam. At the time, the installation attracted almost 370,000 visitors. Thus, the idea to create a "sequel", as Winy Maas, founding partner of the studio, explains and continues: "During the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, the idea was to make a high stage to honour the winner, but that was cancelled due to the pandemic. I am glad that Rotterdam Rooftop Days have managed to achieve this, and I want to argue for a further sequel: we should not only occupy our roofs and make them greener but also connect them so that we can offer Rotterdammers a new rooftop park! For this, the orange carpet and the bridging of the Coolsingel are a nice initial test case."
In 2021, the collaboration between the MVRDV studio and Rotterdam Rooftop Days, together with the municipality of Rotterdam, led to the presentation of the "Rooftop Catalogue", a handbook with 130 innovative proposals for a better use of existing flat roofs. The book has since inspired other municipal authorities to take concrete action in this regard.
Since three is the perfect number, the team that designed Stairs to Kriterion and the Rooftop Walk also designed a third rooftop installation: The Podium, a pink podium on the roof of the Het Nieuwe Instituut accessible to the public free of charge via a 143-step external staircase, set to open on June 1. This pink podium, in direct proximity to the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, also designed by MVRDV, will be the central element of the Rotterdam Architecture Month, which has organised various events at the Podium in June.
For those who would like to experience the Rotterdam Rooftop Walk in person, it is open from May 26 to June 24 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (entrance €3.50 for adults, children free). Tickets can be booked online at rotterdamsedakendagen.nl or rooftopwalk.nl.
Project: Rotterdam Rooftop Days and MVRDV
Construction: Dutch Steigers
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Images: Ossip van Duivenbode