The Rooftop Days of 2018: aerial views of Rotterdam

June 2 and 3, those were this year’s Rotterdam Rooftop Days, the annual opportunity to see, and photograph, the city from different perspectives.

Brochure of the Rotterdam Rooftop Days 2018

Unlike last year, a Rooftop Pass did not give access to all Open Roofs on both days. One had to choose for either Saturday or Sunday. Or for both days, but in that case two passes had to be purchased.

Hazy

So what do you choose? Without any clear reason I had picked Sunday, weeks in advance. And that choice worked out remarkably well. On Saturday the weather was extremely un-photographic: overcast, gloomy and hazy. That’s evident from this photo, taken on Saturday afternoon from the Fenixlofts construction site.

Rijnhaven bridge, Hotel New York and the river Nieuwe Maas, seen from the Fenixlofts during Construction Day

Construction Day

So how did I get on that Fenixlofts site? Well, by coincidence it was also Dag van de Bouw (Construction Day) that day. For reasons completely unclear to me, organizers tend to plan all fun events in the same weekend; I’ve been grumbling about that before.

Sunny

But anyway, I was talking about the Rooftop Days. On Sunday the weather was a lot better: mostly sunny with good visibility.

Image made with a telephoto lens showing one of the pylons of willems Bridge in Rotterdam with in the background a residential tower and a large crane in the harbour

Strategy

One must of course have a strategy to get the most out of a Rooftop Pass. My strategy was: go from east to west along all the roofs where I had not been yet. With the morning sun from the east and the afternoon sun from the west, the city should always be properly illuminated.

Student Flat

The first roof was one of the highlights of the day: student flat De Hoge Wiek at Oostmolenwerf. Eighteen floors high and a beautiful view of Haringvliet canal and the Rotterdam skyline.

Panoramic view of the Rotterdam skyline seen from the student's appartment tower de Hoge Wiek during the Rooftop Days of 2018, including De Rotterdam building, Erasmus and Willems bridges, the White House and Markthal

Boompjes

The next roof, of one of the office buildings on Boompjes, was much lower. Next year, this roof is unlikely to be accessible during the Rooftop Days, for the simple reason that it will no longer be there. The office is going to be replaced by a residential tower. The future residents will get a great view: the Nieuwe Maas river, the Noordereiland and the Southbank on one side and Scheepmakershaven, Wijnhaven island and the city center on the other.

Reflection of Scheepmakershaven harbour in the glass facade of the former Pakhoed building in Rotterdam

Schoolyard

The roof of the Jan Prins School is not high at all, but it is probably the highest schoolyard in the Netherlands. The children have a nice view into the Markthal. Unfortunately, the meshes of the fence are too narrow for a good photo of that view. I know a photographer who, for this kind of situations, always has a stepladder in his car, but I made my rooftop odyssey on my bicycle. Not a single gram of CO2 has been emitted to make these photos.

View from the schoolyard on top of Jan Prins school into the Markthal during the Rotterdam Rooftop Days

Witte de With

The roof of the 42workspace multi-company building is not very high either. However, its location is perfect: the building is located at Witte de Withstraat, one of the city’s trendiest streets, seen here flowing like a green river through the district of Cool (what’s in a name?).

View of Witte de Withstraat during the Rotterdam Rooftop Days 2018

Dirty glass

The GEB tower on Coolhaven, the yellow-brown building on the left of the picture below, was theoretically one of the most promising roofs. Not too far from the high-rise buildings in the center and the Southbank, but also not too close. Unfortunately, the roof itself was not accessible. We could only look at the beautiful view through the somewhat dirty glass of the observation post that the Germans built during the war. It was like the Amsterdam Open Towers all over again.

Erasmus medical center in Rotterdam with the former GEB tower in front of it

Greenhouse effect

To make matters worse, temperatures up there were so tropical that not many people stayed there for more than a few minutes. So the photo below has been created under very difficult circumstances. The only consolation was that also the jerries must have been sweating like hell in ’40 -’45.

View of the Old West residential neighbourhood and the Rotterdam skyline from the former GEB tower during the Rotterdam Rooftop Days 2018

HAKA

On the roof of the HAKA building, a monumental office building from the 1930s in the Merwe-Vierhavens area, the climate was much more pleasant. Moreover, the view was great as well.

View from the roof of the HAKA building on the Rotterdam skyline during the Rooftop Days 2018

Grand Trade Building

And so I had come to the end of my wish list faster than expected. All right, then to conclude I went back to a classic: the roof of Groothandelsgebouw, rightfully the number 1 in my Reconstruction Top-10.

Only the most western part of the roof was accessible but nevertheless the view was amazing.

The stainless steel roof of the Rotterdam central station seen from the roof of Groothandelsgebouw

Next year there will undoubtedly be Rooftop Days again. With hopefully a number of new roofs on the program. I am looking forward to it.

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