What’s bright pink, super slender and soars high in the sky? Besides “a flamingo”, as a colleague suggested amusingly, the real answer goes by the name of The Podium – a new event space coming to the rooftop of Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut building during the peak of Northern Hemisphere’s summertime. Perched at a height of 29 metres above ground level – accessed via a narrow 143-step staircase – The Podium’s high-octane visage will be catapulted across the city, courtesy of the striking hot-pink colour set to saturate all the surfaces of the temporary intervention.
Designed by the architects at Netherlands-based firm MVRDV, the 600-square-metre event space will be programmed by a variety of Rotterdam institutions and creatives. By enabling the use of a rooftop that has previously been off-limits to the public, the structure will provide a unique opportunity to experience the city and its architecture from a completely new perspective. The space will be used for mixed events until August 17, but upon its opening on June 1, it will form the core of the Rotterdam Architecture Month, furthering the conversation about the underutilisation of rooftop spaces.
The Podium temporary event space in Rotterdam by MVRDV
“The roofs of Rotterdam have enormous potential,” insists the team from MVRDV, helmed by architect Winy Maas. “Especially those of Het Nieuwe Instituut,” they add, hinting at the panoramic view from its distinctive pergola. The building, designed by Jo Coenen and built in 1993, inspired the architects to create the eye-popping platform with a floor area large enough to host a variety of events and meetings. But perhaps its greatest perk is the views it offers: of the city, the surrounding Museumpark (created by OMA) and the shimmering Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen building, also designed by MVRDV.
The Podium is to be supported by a structure of reusable scaffolding with floor finishes that can later be recycled. Access will be granted by an exterior staircase, a temporary elevator or via the top floor of the building beneath it, which is currently hosting an exhibition of MVRDV’s early architectural work. “The Podium represents the ambition of Het Nieuwe Instituut to increase public knowledge about architecture,” says the designers. It’s also a demonstration of MVRDV’s agenda to make better use of the city’s rooftops and an important leap towards “densifying the city,” they say, that will allow it to develop sustainably by limiting urban sprawl.
Launching in conjunction with Rotterdam Architecture Month, The Podium will be the hot-pink-heart of the festival for the entirety of June, hosting lectures, tours, films and other activities focused on the built environment. Throughout July and August, The Podium will continue to be open for other activities, from sports classes and rooftop dinners to a suite of programs specifically designed for a younger demographic.
More broadly, the installation forms part of a tradition MVRDV has now established in rooftop programming, from the Rooftop Catalogue project (comprising 130 innovative ideas to make use of Rotterdam’s empty flat roofs) to the Stairs to Kriterion – the staircase to the top of the Groot Handelsgebouw building that attracted over 350,000 visitors in 2017. Additionally, just before The Podium opens, May 26 will see the opening of the Rotterdam Rooftop Walk, an initiative also featuring a design by MVRDV.
Covering a series of neighbouring roofs in the city centre, The Rooftop Walk will give visitors free month-long access to areas that are normally closed to the public, allowing them to experience first-hand how making use of rooftops can contribute to a better future for city dwellers. “The Rooftop Walk also has symbolic and educational objectives, with the intention of showing people the potential of rooftops and the need to make better use of them,” the MVRDV team explains. “This fits in with Rotterdam’s ambition to give the large area of flat roofs in the city a function [such as] public programming, water storage, energy production or greenery.”
The Podium’s high-octane visage will be catapulted across the city, courtesy of the striking hot-pink colour set to saturate all the surfaces of the temporary intervention.