MVRDV - MVRDV launches RoofScape, a new software to help reimagine Rotterdam’s rooftops

MVRDV launches RoofScape, a new software to help reimagine Rotterdam’s rooftops


Yesterday at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, MVRDV NEXT, Superworld, and the Municipality of Rotterdam presented RoofScape, a new software that provides a visualisation engine for Rotterdam’s rooftops. Aimed at professionals and citizens alike, RoofScape is intended to be detailed and informative enough to assist policymakers and urban planners, while also being so simple to use that individual building owners – and even just interested locals – can play around to see what uses might emerge on their building and in their neighbourhood.

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With over 18 square kilometres of flat roofs in the city, the rooftops of Rotterdam have become one of the city’s urban planning priorities. RoofScape builds on a prior collaboration between MVRDV and the Municipality, who launched the Rooftop Catalogue in 2021 together with Rotterdam Rooftop Days. This book contains 130 suggestions for how rooftops can be used more effectively to increase the city’s density, doing everything from providing more housing and leisure spaces to supporting biodiversity and generating energy.

RoofScape is the next step in realising this potential, building on Rotterdam’s existing rooftop standards, which colour-code roofs by what uses they can support. The software combines a wide range of datasets to determine what uses might be appropriate for each building, analysing the city’s digital twin to determine the physical characteristics of buildings, and adding in data such as building function, age, energy label, heritage status, flood risk, transit access, and more.

By zooming in on a specific neighbourhood and setting a few threshold sliders to their liking, these colours show users what kind of roofscape might emerge in that area. Focusing on a specific building allows a user to look deeper into the factors that resulted in its assigned colour label.

“The software integrates expert knowledge while remaining easy enough for all people to use,” says Leo Stuckardt of MVRDV NEXT. “Rotterdam’s rooftop mission is an unusual urban design ideal – it can’t be done with one big decision, or even one organisation balancing the wishes of a thousand people. RoofScape addresses the diversity of ownership, dreams, and ambitions that need to be negotiated and explores how municipalities can steer these developments through public policy.”

“The Rooftop Catalogue was a huge success in raising people’s awareness of what we see as a resource for the city, and generating some excitement over what could be done with it,” says Paul van Roosmalen, the programme manager for the city’s Rotterdam Rooftops programme. “This prototype of RoofScape is a call to action. We’re hoping to get more cities and other stakeholders involved in the next steps for RoofScape.”

MVRDV editor Rory Stott has written about RoofScape in more detail in a guest article for ArchDaily; read that article here.