The agricultural scene earlier than me is usually Dutch: tulips and narcissi tilt in the direction of the solar, rows of greens peep their frilly heads by the earth, and chickens peck for snacks within the soil. Solely I’m within the coronary heart of city Rotterdam. I’ve simply crossed the Coolsingel’s six lanes of site visitors and climbed the concrete steps of a Sixties workplace block to a rooftop seven flooring up.
The 1,000m² DakAkker (roof area), residence to bustling brunch cafe Teds, is the biggest rooftop farm within the Netherlands, serving native companies with contemporary produce, producing photo voltaic power, and storing 9,000l of rainwater to scale back flooding and quench droughts. From roofs resembling this guests can marvel on the patchwork metropolis; the mirrored skyscrapers and brutalist behemoths dwarf the few remaining monumental buildings, performing as contrasting emblems of Rotterdam previous and current.
Finest recognized for its dramatic structure which sprang from the ashes of Second World Warfare devastation, the Netherlands’ second-largest metropolis now faces a brand new menace as sea stage rise, brought on by world warming, as soon as once more exams the town’s resilience. But Rotterdam’s modern options to the challenges it faces solely make it extra of a vacation spot.
The Depot constructing, for instance − a colossal mirrored bowl brimming with artwork treasures, whose tiny footprint is designed to resist flooding − gained a clutch of awards when it grew to become the world’s first publicly accessible artwork depository final 12 months, housing the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s huge assortment of Dutch works whereas the water-logged museum is remodelled. The Depot has no rooftop allotment; it has a forest as an alternative.
Excessive and dry is an efficient factor when your metropolis has one of many best flood dangers in Europe, and Rotterdam’s Rooftop Days Competition (Could/June) is an annual celebration of sky-high life with rooftop concert events, tenting, eating and dancing; and this 12 months a wide ranging Rooftop Stroll, that includes specifically designed air bridges connecting the roofs of iconic buildings downtown.
Are available June and also you’ll additionally catch Rotterdam Structure Month. Headlining is The Podium, a brief rooftop stage on the structure and design museum Het Nieuwe Instituut, accessed by way of a placing exterior staircase spanning the constructing like a neon pink sash.
However fancy roofs are usually not nearly attracting guests. With a flat roofscape of 18km², the town additionally sees regreening at altitude as mitigation in opposition to world warming. “Eighty-five per cent of our metropolis is under sea stage – that stresses the have to be local weather adaptive,” explains vice mayor Vincent Karremans. “One of many methods we will do that’s so as to add extra inexperienced.”
Seven initiatives – excessive and low – costing over €300m (£254bn) will remodel this car-centric metropolis, including 100,000m² of parkland inside a decade. In addition to boosting tourism, the brand new panorama will seize extra CO2, scale back warmth stress, promote biodiversity and take up an estimated 4,400m³ of floodwater. “It helps us obtain many targets in a single,” says Karremans.
Within the Delfshaven district, guests can now take a guided tour by the town’s eight-hectare Dakpark, a rooftop park with a herb backyard, beehives and free-roaming sheep, which has develop into a preferred native hangout. In the meantime, snaking over north Rotterdam, and visual from my vantage level on the DakAkker, is a disused railway viaduct being transformed, because of native architects De Urbanisten, into the climate-adaptive Hofbogenpark – a 2km-long verdant walkway with water options on account of open in 2024.
Huddled beneath the viaduct’s 189 arches, there’s already heaps to discover. Pattern a staple of the Dutch weight loss program at We Say Cheese; spend a night at BIRD, a music venue with restaurant and backyard; or browse the vinyl at Clone Data and De Oorzaak. This as soon as seedy a part of city now even has its personal Michelin-starred restaurant, FG Meals Labs.
For climate-friendly delicacies, attempt Aloha within the Kralingen district, a restaurant with a low-waste idea positioned inside a derelict Eighties tropical swimming paradise, now a part of Blue Metropolis, a hub for sustainably minded entrepreneurs. The creative sharing plates preserve coming, together with a vegetarian tackle Dutch bitterballen (breadcrumbed balls with a gooey centre) constituted of oyster mushrooms grown on espresso grounds and served with a − surprisingly tasty − espresso mayonnaise dip (€6.50).
From right here, I board an electrical water taxi for an exhilarating experience beneath the harp-shaped Erasmus Bridge and upstream to the Rijnhaven, a peaceable harbour exploring methods of working with the ever present water that each defines Rotterdam and endangers it. A €70m redevelopment venture is underway right here to create 18 hectares of tidal parkland with metropolis seashores and floating parks, because the land use evolves from industrial to ecological and social.
Throughout the water, I spy Wikkelboats: tiny floating homes constructed utilizing recycled cardboard − some with scorching tubs − and the newest development in climate-adaptive lodging right here.
There’s extra floating enjoyable available within the Wijnhaven to my north. The floating H₂OTEL has buoy-shaped boats with bars which will be skippered across the harbour, whereas eccentric gastro pub and gig venue V11, a Fifties beacon-topped “lightboat” painted fire-engine crimson, rents out electrical hotTugs − steerable steaming-hot jacuzzis that preserve passengers heat regardless of the climate.
Again within the Rijnhaven, the one trace of the district’s tawdry previous is the cheekily named restaurant Putaine (prostitute), the place I take pleasure in a glass of champagne. Furnished in blushing pink and bestowed with a pure swimming pool, the stylish, glass-walled institution kinds a part of a large timber-built floating workplace complicated, residence to the worldwide HQ of the International Middle on Adaptation.
For dinner, although, I’m off to Putaine’s massive sister, Héroine, again on the mainland. Right here I sit all the way down to a five-course menu (€58) that includes melt-in-the-mouth amuse-bouches and a knockout dessert of apple sorbet, peanut cream and crispy beetroot – all served in an inauspicious (however listed) hulk of a constructing typical of the functionalist structure that’s in every single place right here and all too straightforward to misjudge.
In actual fact, the town has been undersold for therefore lengthy, it’s no surprise it needs to shout from the rooftops. “We’ve actually come a great distance within the final 20 years in Rotterdam,” says Léon van Geest, director of Rotterdam Rooftop Days, as we tour the Groene Kaap housing improvement in Katendrecht, lately voted the most effective roof within the Netherlands. “It’s not one thing just for the vacationers, however for Rotterdam folks to be pleased with their metropolis.
“If you find yourself on the rooftops, you’re like: ‘That is my metropolis. Wow.’”
A direct Eurostar service from London reaches Rotterdam in round 4 hours.
Deborah stayed at The Slaak Rotterdam and was hosted by Rotterdam Companions. theslaakrotterdam.nl
The Rotterdam Rooftop Stroll runs from 26 Could to 24 June 2022. Rotterdam Structure Month runs all through the month of June, however the Podium will stay open till 17 August.