The Second Layer Over the City of Rotterdam
The bright orange Rotterdam Rooftop Walk is 600 metres long that offers the public a fantastic view of the city. The temporary installation is an initiative of Rotterdam Rooftop Days, with the concept and design developed together with MVRDV.
Open for one month in which it plays a highlight role in both Rotterdam Architecture Month and the Rotterdam Rooftop Festival, the Rotterdam Rooftop Walk allows visitors to venture across a variety of the city’s rooftops at a height of 30 metres. It aims to give the public a new perspective on the city: the extensive programming should increase visitors’ awareness of the potential of roofs, which can become a “second layer” that makes the city more liveable, biodiverse, sustainable, and healthy, while the highlight of the route is the bridge spanning the Coolsingel, one of Rotterdam’s most important streets.
In the rooftop exhibition artists, designers, and architects show how much is possible if we use our roofs efficiently for greenery, water storage, food production, and energy generation. On top of the installation, all kinds of makers show how roofs can contribute to a sustainable, healthy and liveable city – from a virtual village to a green design for the roof of the Bijenkorf department store. The temporary installation is an initiative of Rotterdam Rooftop Days, with the concept and design developed together with MVRDV.
The route of the Rotterdam Rooftop Walk begins alongside the Koopgoot, the sunken shopping street that crosses underneath the Coolsingel. Staircases lead visitors up through a series of terraces to the rooftop of the WTC plinth, then over the Coolsingel to the roof of the Bijenkorf. Here visitors find educational displays and demonstrations, and they will also be able to access the three open patios on the top of the building designed by Marcel Breuer in 1957. Finally, the route leads across to the roof of the Bijenkorf parking garage, from where a staircase will take visitors back to ground level.
The Rooftop Walk draws attention to the problems of scarcity of space – making visitors more aware of the possibilities, especially in a city like Rotterdam where 18.5 km2 of flat roofs remains unused. Solutions to the scarcity of space in cities are crucial to prevent the continued urbanisation of rural areas. Rooftop programming can help with major issues such as climate change, the housing crisis, and the transition to renewable energy.
“In 2016, for the celebration of 75 years of Rotterdam’s reconstruction, we designed the Stairs to Kriterion, which attracted almost 370,000 visitors. That’s when the idea arose that it would be good to make a sequel to the project,” says MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas. “During the 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.”
Concept: Rotterdam Rooftop Days, MVRDV
Founding partner in charge: Winy Maas
Director: Gideon Maasland
Gijs RikkenMichele Tavola
Antonio Luca Coco
MVRDV Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries
Concept: Rotterdam Rooftop Days MVRDV
Design: Rotterdam Rooftop DaysMVRDVDutch SteigersLOLA
Production & content programming:: Rotterdam Rooftop Days
Construction: Royal Haskoning DHVExact Advies & Engineering
Photographs: © Ossip van Duivenbode© Pavlos Ventouris / MVRDV© Frank Hanswijk