How Rotterdam’s funky climate-adapted architecture is putting it on the tourist map

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 visitors and climbed the concrete steps of a Sixties workplace block to a rooftop seven flooring up.

The 1,000m² DakAkker (roof subject), house to bustling brunch cafe Teds, is the most important rooftop farm within the Netherlands, serving native companies with contemporary produce, producing photo voltaic vitality, and storing 9,000 litres of rainwater to cut back flooding and quench droughts. From roofs akin to this guests can marvel on the patchwork metropolis; the mirrored skyscrapers and brutalist behemoths dwarf the few remaining monumental buildings, appearing as contrasting emblems of Rotterdam previous and current.

Greatest identified for its dramatic structure which sprang from the ashes of World Conflict II devastation, the Netherlands’ second largest metropolis now faces a brand new risk as sea stage rise, attributable to world warming, as soon as once more assessments the town’s resilience. But Rotterdam’s revolutionary options to the challenges it faces solely make it extra of a vacation spot.

Enjoyable on the city farm at DakAkker

(Karin Oppelland)

The Depot constructing, for instance − a colossal mirrored bowl brimming with artwork treasures, whose tiny footprint is designed to resist flooding − received a clutch of awards when it turned 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 effective factor when your metropolis has one of many biggest flood dangers in Europe, and Rotterdam’s Rooftop Days Competition (Might/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 through a placing exterior staircase spanning the constructing like a neon pink sash.

Guests can marvel on the patchwork metropolis; the mirrored skyscrapers and brutalist behemoths dwarf the few remaining monumental buildings

However fancy roofs should 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 must be local weather adaptive,” explains vice mayor Vincent Karremans. “One of many methods we are able to do that’s so as to add extra inexperienced.”

Seven tasks – excessive and low – costing over €300m 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, cut back warmth stress, promote biodiversity and soak 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, bee hives and free-roaming sheep, which has change into a well-liked 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, due to native architects De Urbanisten, into the climate-adaptive Hofbogenpark – a 2km-long verdant walkway with water options as a consequence of open in 2024.

Bag a floating bar, out there for rent at H2OTEL


Huddled beneath the viaduct’s 189 arches, there’s already heaps to discover. Pattern a staple of the Dutch food plan 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, strive Aloha within the Kralingen district, a restaurant with a low-waste idea situated inside a derelict Eighties tropical swimming paradise, now a part of Blue Metropolis, a hub for sustainably minded entrepreneurs. The ingenious sharing plates maintain coming, together with a vegetarian tackle Dutch bitterballen (breadcrumbed balls with a gooey centre) made out 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 trip 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 mission 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.

The climate-adaptive, 2km-long Hofbogenpark

(Guido Pijper for Rotterdam Companions)

Throughout the water, I spy Wikkelboats: tiny floating homes constructed utilizing recycled cardboard − some with sizzling tubs − and the newest pattern 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 Nineteen Fifties beacon-topped ‘lightboat’ painted fire-engine purple, rents out electrical hotTugs − steerable steaming-hot jacuzzis that maintain 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 get pleasure from 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, house to the worldwide HQ of the World Heart on Adaptation.

Town has been undersold for therefore lengthy, it’s no surprise it needs to shout from the rooftops

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 hulk of a constructing typical of the functionalist structure that’s all over the place right here and all too simple 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 one of the best roof within the Netherlands. “It’s not one thing just for the vacationers, however for Rotterdam individuals to be happy with their metropolis.

“When you’re on the rooftops, you’re like: ‘That is my metropolis. Wow.’”

Restaurant Putaine has its personal pure pool

(Sophia van den Hoek)

Journey necessities

Getting there

A direct Eurostar service from London reaches Rotterdam in round 4 hours.

Staying there

Deborah stayed at The Slaak Rotterdam and was hosted by Rotterdam Companions.

Extra info

Rotterdam Rooftop Days runs from 26 Might to 24 June 2022. Rotterdam Structure Month runs all through the month of June, however the Podium will stay open till 17 August.

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