100 ways to make better use of urban rooftops, from parks to tiny homes

INNOVATIONS: Using Urban Rooftops for Good

On the rooftop of a hospital in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, patients can visit a small orchard filled with fruit trees. A neighboring art museum has a rooftop forest planted with birch trees that were raised to survive at a slightly higher altitude. Nearby, a nearly 4,000-foot-long building is topped with a park that has vegetable gardens, picnickers, and grazing sheep. On other roofs in the city, pilot projects are testing the potential of tiny homes.

The city is a pioneer in finding new uses for a part of urban space that’s often ignored. In a new book called Rooftop Catalogue, Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV and the organization behind an annual “rooftop day” festival in the city explore more potential ways to transform roofs and how the whole rooftop landscape could change.

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