The Rooftop Story

 

I really think that the way people see public space has never been the same again after the “High Line”, New York.

I believe that a city is never meant to be experienced in only one way. You can either follow the map or just get lost. But I think the concept is also applicable in the Z-axes, as in you should be able to experience the city vertically, not only on the ground floor.

The idea of inserting a public function off of the ground level has long been floating in the air for most of the architects and urbanists, especially when dealing with a super-dense area where developing on the ground floor becomes a luxury. Like in Hong Kong, for example. Sky bridges are also popped in as an alternative way to connect different functions in different buildings off the ground floor level. Yet a successful “off-ground” public space is unlikely to be found just yet.

I like seeing things from above.
It is such a different, exciting, and often thrilling experience to see the city from above. Either I am standing on the highest hill, highest tower, simple rooftop, or a Ferris wheel. I like how I can experience a different point of view and see a different kind of urban patterns. And I love how the sky suddenly feels closer!

 

Thus, I really love the public space on the rooftops.
Not that I’ve experienced that much rooftop, though.

 

I went to Rotterdam earlier today. There is a temporary installation to celebrate 75 years of Rotterdam’s redevelopment after the World War II in front of the central station. It is a huge stairs designed by MVRDV that goes from the ground floor to the rooftop of “Het Groothandelsgebouw”.

 

Although the stairs are only part of the temporary installation, the idea of connecting the ground floor to the rooftop resonates well with what I believe to be one of the next big things in urban intervention. MVRDV sees rooftop as a potential new “layer” to be developed in the city. I think the vertical connection will open new opportunities. Not only because of the view and the spatial experience, but also the way we design and value a space.

In my opinion, what MVRDV is doing is not only exploring the opportunity to connect the space vertically, but also the chance to offer a different kind of experience, scene, and space at the same time. I found it amazing to experience the other side of Rotterdam that I’ve never seen before. But could it be something’s interesting only because it is temporary?

Or this future is actually closer than we thought?

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