/Rotterdam: Revolution through the roof

Rotterdam: Revolution through the roof

From the post-war dust, the city of Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, has risen to become an international reference for development and innovation. Next to an architectural central station, skyscrapers and old mansions share the main block of the town, where graffitied walls and neon clubs illustrate this “new” version of the region. On top of one of those reinvented buildings is the DakAkker high garden, the biggest green rooftop of Europe.

Created in April 2012, this elevated bio area has become an international reference for urban sustainability. The project, which consist in the production of natural ingredients in a special soil, with the help of high environmental technology, is already been analyzed by big global companies, like Unilever, for its reproduction or/and expansion.


Because of climate change, the incidence of rains is getting higher. For a place like The Netherlands, where a big part of the cities is below sea level, including Rotterdam, a good water drainage system is essential. If the sewer is unable to collect all this rainwater, maybe these gardens are.

The DakAkker Garden have the capacity to store 60 thousand liters of water on its roof pavilion. This reserve is used on the vegetation of the garden and prevent the water to be dumped straight at the concrete streets.

Also, not long ago, the managers of the project installed a software called “Smart Roof” into the garden’s system. The computer is now connected to the weather news and can release or retain the water depending on the levels of rain predicted for that week. For now, there isn’t a place to store the water, but the representatives already said that, in the future, they plan to reuse all the quantity collected in this process.


The magical place is not a cheap dream. To keep it up and running, the managers of this project decided to collab with local restaurants. Since vegetables are easily found in normal supermarket, for a very cheap price, the garden decided to reinvent themselves in the last few years, and start producing singular gastronomic specialties.

Thanks to the Mediterranean climate of the roof – dry weather and many wind – herbs and flowers can grow strong in the one thousand-meters square rooftop of Schieblock building. These edible ingredients are not so easy to be found in the city, and the chiefs of the region became loyal buyers of DakAkker’s products. Other than that, the DakAkker also offer honey from their own hive and fertilizer from a customized composting process.

Many developers and builders from the Netherlands and abroad have already visited the space and are enthusiastic about the initiatives. In Rotterdam, other projects already are trying to explore the idea of green islands on the urban centers. For example, the Hofpleinstation building rooftop, where fruit trees are cultivated and, as DakAkker, their products are sold to restaurants in the neighborhood.

Euroscope Series: The city of Rotterdam (NL)