Across Europe, intrepid artists, planners and architects are transforming the continent’s flat, gray rooftops into bustling community hubs.
From public parks and art venues to rain catchments and solar farms, there’s no bad idea on how to utilize thousands of football pitches of underutilized space. .
The European Network of Creative Rooftops connects various organizations in European cities like Barcelona and Antwerp that want to “aim high” with cultural hotspots and innovative living labs exploring sustainability.
Rotterdam has 150 million square feet of rooftop spaceand the municipality’s Multifunctional Roofs program encourages building owners to green their roofs to improve water collection, or to “yellow” their roofs by installing solar panels.
For example, Luchtpark Hofbogen sits atop a heritage train station that is being converted into a winding rooftop park, much like the High Line in New York City.
Next weekend, Multifunctional Rooftops is hosting the Rotterdam Rooftop Days festival that aims to educate people about the various potential uses of city rooftops. The festival will center on a pair of exhibits – public spaces on different rooftops connected by colorful bridges.
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It’s not just Rotterdam and neighboring Amsterdam that are on the rise. There are ERCN chapters in Belfast, Antwerp, Nicosia, Gothenburg, Chemnitz and Faro.
Nicosia in Cyprus is also very successful in turning its rooftops into attractions. The top of the Stelios Ioannou Learning Center is a grass roof allowing a 360 degree view of the city. In the center, an artificial hill provides a skylight into the library below.
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1010 Hall is a rooftop cultural space focused on stargazing, not because you can see many stars in Nicosia, but because there is a very large telescope on the roof. Lectures on stargazing and astronomy are held in its small theatre.
A new hope
For those curious about where to visit some of these repurposed rooftops, the “Rooftopedia” has them all together.
For Rotterdam, the rooftop conversion is as much about keeping the city above water, as 90% of the municipality is technically below sea level, and the focus on water harvesting is strong. It started in 2008 when they became the first city to offer grants to building owners constructing green roofs.
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A year later, the roof of a 1960s concert hall called De Doelen completed the installation of a roof upgrade that included water tanks hidden under stones, opening up a public walkway that could collect 2,000 tubs of water.
Dark gray concrete bare roofs play a huge role in the “heat island” effect of cities, and the more things that are installed there to absorb this heat, the less energy a building will need to cool down. . You could call it the next revolution in urban planning.
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