BILLIONHis agricultural landscape before mine was typical of the Dutch: tulips and daffodils leaning toward the sun, rows of vegetables sticking their heads in the ground, and chickens pecking each other for snacks in the soil. . Only me in the city center of Rotterdam. I had just crossed Coolsingel’s six lanes of traffic and climbed the concrete stairs of a 1960s office block to a seven-story rooftop.

The 1,000m DakAkker (roof field), home to the bustling brunch cafe Teds, is the largest rooftop farm in the Netherlands, serving local businesses that produce fresh, solar energy. and store 9,000 liters of rainwater to reduce floods and quell droughts. From rooftops like these, visitors can marvel at the patchwork city; Mirrored skyscrapers and brutalist giants dwarf the few monumental buildings that remain, serving as contrasting symbols of Rotterdam past and present.

Best known for its impressive architecture that rose from the ashes of the Second World War, the Netherlands’ second largest city is now facing a new threat as sea levels rise, causing caused by global warming, once again testing the resilience of the city. However, Rotterdam’s innovative solutions to the challenges it faces have only made it more of a destination.

Urban farm fun at DakAkker

(Karin Oppelland)

For example, the Depot building – a giant bowl mirrored with art treasures, has a small footprint designed to withstand floods – won a series of awards when it became a repository of art. The world’s first publicly accessible art gallery last year contained Boijmans Van Beuningen’s vast collection of Dutch works while the flooded museum was under renovation. Depot has no rooftop allocation; instead it has a forest.

Being tall and dry is a good thing when your city has one of the greatest flood risks in Europe, and Rotterdam’s Rooftop Days Festival (May/June) is a daily celebration. year of high life with rooftop concerts, camping, dining and dancing; and this year is the spectacular Rooftop Walk, with specially designed aerial bridges connecting the roofs of iconic buildings downtown.

Come in June and you’ll also catch Rotterdam Architecture Month. The focal point is The Podium, a temporary terrace on the Het Nieuwe Instituut museum of architecture and design, accessed via a striking exterior staircase that extends throughout the building like a neon pink ribbon.

Visitors can marvel at the patchwork city; Mirrored skyscrapers and brutalist giants dwarf the few monumental buildings that remain

But the fancy roofs aren’t just for attracting visitors. With a flat roof landscape of 18 km², the city also considers wind recapture at high altitude as mitigation against global warming. Deputy Mayor Vincent Karremans explains: “85% of our cities are below sea level – that underscores the need for climate adaptation. “One of the ways we can do that is to add more green.”

Seven projects – high and low – costing over 300 million euros will transform this car-centric city, adding 100,000 square meters of parkland within a decade. In addition to promoting tourism, the new landscape will capture more CO2, reduce heat stress, promote biodiversity, and absorb an estimated 4,400m³ of floodwater. “It helps us achieve multiple goals within the same goal,” says Karremans.

In the Delfshaven district, visitors can now take a guided tour through the city’s eight-hectare Dakpark, a rooftop park with herb gardens, beehives and herd of sheep. became a popular local hangout. Meanwhile, passing North Rotterdam, and visible from my vantage point at DakAkker, is a disused railway viaduct under conversion, thanks to local architects De Urbanisten, The climate-resilient city of Hofbogenpark – a 2km verdant walkway with water features due to open in 2024.

Bring a floating bar, for rent at H2OTEL


Nestled beneath the viaduct’s 189 arches, there’s plenty to explore. Sample a Dutch dietary staple at We Say Cheese; spend an evening at BIRD, a music venue with restaurant and garden; or browse vinyl at Clone Records and De Oorzaak. This once-seeded area of ​​town now even has its own Michelin-starred restaurant, FG Food Labs.

For climate-friendly food, try Aloha in the Kralingen district, a low-waste-style restaurant set in a derelict 1980s tropical swimming paradise now part of the Green City , a hub for sustainability-minded entrepreneurs. Creative sharing plates continue to appear, including a vegetarian dish that uses Dutch bitters (breadcrumbs with a filling) made from oyster mushrooms grown on coffee grounds and served with coffee mayonnaise – surprisingly good (€6.50).

From here, I boarded an electric water taxi for an enjoyable ride below the harp-shaped Erasmus Bridge and upriver to Rijnhaven, a peaceful harbor that explores the defining ways of working with water. Rotterdam and endanger it. A €70 million redevelopment project is underway here to create 18 hectares of tidal parkland with city beaches and floating parks, as land use evolves from industrial to ecological. status and society.

Hofbogenpark 2km long adapts to the climate

(Guido Pijper for Partners Rotterdam)

On the water, I follow Wikkelboats: tiny floating houses built of recycled cardboard – some with hot tubs – and the latest trend in climate-resilient accommodation here.

There’s more floating fun to be had in Wijnhaven to the north of me. The floating H₂OTEL features pontoon boats with skippable bars around the harbor, while the eccentric pub and dining venue V11, a 1950s beacon-lit ‘lightboat’ painted red , rent electric hotTugs with jacuzzis to help keep passengers warm in any weather.

Back in Rijnhaven, the only hint of the county’s lewd past was the cheeky restaurant Putaine (whore), where I enjoyed a glass of champagne. Decorated in pastel pink and endowed with a natural swimming pool, this glass-walled luxury establishment forms part of a huge wooden-built floating office complex that houses the international headquarters of the company. Global Adaptation Center.

The city has been sold for so long, no wonder it wants to scream from the rooftops

For dinner, however, I will return to the mainland, Putaine’s big sister, Héroine. Here I sat down on a five-course (58€) menu consisting of melt-in-your-mouth entertainment and a knockout dessert of apple sorbet, peanut ice cream and crunchy beetroot – all served in an implausible (but listed) meal a building typifies functionalist architecture is everywhere here and it’s all too easy to misjudge.

In fact, the city has been sold cheaply for so long, it’s no wonder it wants to scream from the rooftops. Léon van Geest, director of Rotterdam Rooftop Days, said: “We have really come a long way in the last 20 years in Rotterdam, saying recently the best roof in the Netherlands. “It’s not just something for tourists, but for the people of Rotterdam to be proud of their city.

“When you’re on the rooftops, you’re like: ‘This is my city. OH.'”

Putaine restaurant has its own natural swimming pool

(Sophia van den Hoek)

Travel essentials

Arrive there

A direct Eurostar route from London to Rotterdam in about four hours.


Deborah stayed at The Slaak Rotterdam and organized by Rotterdam Partners.

More information

Rotterdam Rooftop Walkway runs from May 26 to June 24, 2022. Rotterdam Architecture Month runs through June, but the Podium will remain open until August 17.


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