Rotterdam will soon be home to one of the longest rooftop parks in the world – a two-kilometre-long, six-metre-wide walkway on top of a former train viaduct between the port city and the resort of Scheveningen near The Hague. 

Part of the viaduct, at the former Hofplein station, has already been turned into a popular city park and now the design for the complete project has been finalised and the tendering process is about to begin.  

The Hofbogen viaduct was used for almost 100 years to take passengers to the seaside and its arches are still used today as shops, offices and restaurants.

“But what is currently a large grey mass on top of the arches will soon become a beautiful green walkway through the north of the city,” said city spatial planning chief Vincent Karremans. “It will be a place to take a stroll and relax, above the bustle of the busy street and among the treetops.”

City biodiversity

The planning includes particular attention to biodiversity and the design has a careful composition of plants to create a habitat for various animal species, such as bees and butterflies, toads, bats, birds and hedgehogs. There will also be special “entrances” so small animals can access the roof.  

In addition, the Hofbogenpark will have a water system that collects and purifies rainwater to help the city be better prepared for heavy rainfall and droughts. There are 14 entrances for pedestrians and three locations for cafes in the plans. 

In time, the city aims to make the streets around the viaduct greener too and to build a bridge over the A20 motorway so it connects with the city district of Schiebroek, a former village which in turn leads to the surrounding countryside. 

Community run

Rotterdam is also home to the Dakpark, a 1.2-kilometre-long community-run park built over a complex that contains a shopping centre, hundreds of car parking spaces, and a dyke that helps protect the entire Randstad region.

The Rotterdam project was inspired by New York’s green project High Line, which is now 2.4 long and between 10 metres and 20 metres wide and which attracts some eight million visitors a year. Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf was involved in designing the High Line park.  

Rotterdam has an ongoing programme to make the most of its roofs, saying the 18.5 kilometres of flat roofs in the city offer enormous potential for water retention, generating sustainable energy, and creating green roofs and terraces.