By Elin Larsson & Agnete Vestergaard-Kristensen
Rotterdam may not be seen as one of the greener cities in The Netherlands. Skyscrapers and modern architecture are often perceived as a lack of nature. And in an environment full of concrete, metal and glass few are expecting to find green plants and vegetables somewhere else than in the supermarket. But right here in this buzzing metropolis, an anthill of people milling about, there is an sprouting green oasis. DakAkker is an urban agricultural Mecca of greens and goods fitted neatly in between the high rising buildings on the top of Shiekade office building in the second-largest city in the Netherlands.
Rotterdam holds 100,000 m2 of green rooftops, forming a buffer to absorb excess rain water, enhance Rotterdam’s ‘green’ appeal, filter dust particles from the atmosphere and extend the life of the roofs. But in addition to these grassy ‘pastures’ one can find another green initiative. An oasis of tomatoes, rhubarb and herbs – lava stones crackling under foot – complete with bee hives, café stools and rays of autumn sun.
DakAkker is a test site – the first of its kind in the Netherlands filling the air with glorious smell of tomatoes, rosemary and munched up celery leaves. 23.4 meters above the Schiekade, the urban ‘farm’ cultivates produce enough to supply some exclusive restaurants with organic, crisp veggies as well as fragrant herbs. The goal is to turn Downtown Rotterdam into a source of fresh produce for the neighborhood and to serve inspiration to encourage the cultivation of many of the unused flat roofs in Rotterdam.
The DakAkker has won the jury prize at the Green Building Awards for being a technically and socially perfect illustration of the urgency for urban roof farming. At the same time DakAkker is the perfect example of how to develop new strategies for all the empty buildings downtown Rotterdam. The rooftop farm is also a social project where the volunteers learn how to grow their own vegetables and herbs.
Rotterdams Milieucentrum is one of the initiators to the project using it as a platform for educating schoolchildren in sustainable development.
So when you visit Rotterdam make sure to look up, because in this concrete jungle the grass is definitely greener on top!