Rooftops are islands in the rooftop landscape. To go from roof to roof, you have to go down first. The rooftop landscape will only be fully utilised if we can connect those islands to each other. That way, the new layer on top of the city will become a collection of junctions instead of finish lines. Höhenrausch Festival in Austria already experimented with rooftop connections in 2013. Permanently connecting rooftops has been a big dream of the Rotterdamse Dakendagen festival ever since its first edition.
2016: The Stairs
As part of Rotterdam Celebrates the City, Winy Maas of MVRDV – a Dutch architectural firm – had a large staircase built from the station square to the Groot Handelsgebouw rooftop in 2016, during the second edition of the Rotterdamse Dakendagen. Ever since the building’s construction in 1953, there have been seven lifts, but still no one uses them to go up to the amazing rooftop.
The Stairs showed that you not only need a great rooftop, but also a great entrance to that rooftop. The result: in one month, 350,000 people went up those stairs and walked around on top of the Groot Handelsgebouw.
Winy Maas immediately noted that such a walk was not enough, and that The Stairs was only the beginning of the development of the rooftop landscape. He told us we should connect several rooftops and openly dreamt about a walk around the top of the station square.
2017: First connection
During the 2017 Rotterdamse Dakendagen, we made the first connection between two rooftops. It concerned a 100-metre slack rope between two flats on the Lijnbaan (two national monuments) at a height of 60 metres. The Dreamwalkers used the rope to walk from one rooftop to the other. A spectacular crossing that also attracted a lot of attention from the ground – but, above all, it was an important, symbolic step towards real rooftop connections.
2018: Higher and longer
In 2018, we set the rope a little higher, and Dreamwalkers’ Yuri Roodenburgh walked the rope at a height of 130 meters from the The First rooftop to the Marriott Hotel rooftop (close to Rotterdam Central Station). This time, our rooftop connection also attracted (inter)national attention.
2019: A second connection
In 2019, Yuri once more walked a rope at a height of 130 meters – this time crossing the Koopgoot from the WTC rooftop to the Scheepmakerstoren rooftop.
For the first time ever, we also attached a second rope a little lower than the one Yuri used, so the public could also cross from rooftop to rooftop. The zipline crossing that the Height Specialists placed for us was sold out within a few days.
The future: ‘real’ connections
Meanwhile, we – together with MRVDV’s Winy Maas and ROFFA’s Renske van der Stoep – continue to dream of and work on real connections; bridges between rooftops. We hope to be able to realise these in Rotterdam in the near future.