Yesterday Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, opened MVRDV’s The Stairs project to the public in commemoration of the 75 year anniversary of the reconstruction of Rotterdam after World War II. The Dutch firm, who are from Rotterdam themselves, placed 180 steps traveling up from just outside Rotterdam’s railway station to the rooftop of the Groot Handelsgebouw—one of the city’s first post-war buildings and cherished landmark.
On its inauguration, the installation (free to the public) attracted some 7,850 stair-faring visitors and will stay open until June 12. Coinciding with the project, a month of activities will include film screenings, debates, and art events at the Kriterion Cinema which will reopen especially for the event.
Rising some 95 feet, the structure—comprised almost entirely from scaffolding assembled by Dutch company Steigers—includes a viewing platform at the top where people can take in expansive and often unseen views of Rotterdam.
Responding to the impressive angular facade of Rotterdam Central Station, the scaffolding also explicitly references the city’s reconstruction through material and its attachment to a post-war icon.
“The stairs are a symbolic first step towards a better use of our city’s second layer, and ideally would be replaced with a set of escalators in the next step,” said MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas in a press release. “It is, in this way, a second reconstruction, a ‘Tweederopbouw,’ that gives access to, activates and connects the rooftops of Rotterdam.”
For climbers in need of refueling and for those who just want to watch others struggle, The Lucht Cafe will provide refreshments while also offering an exhibition showcasing the future of the city. The exhibit will look at how rooftops interact with the cityscape and how new public spaces can establish connections between them.
“With this installation and in our exhibition we show what this city could look like if we do that in many places, engaging a series of our existing buildings and giving access to their roofs, to create a new, much more interactive, three dimensional and denser urban topography for the next city generation,” added Maas.