The Elevated Commons

Urban Fabric
Socially Motivated Work

Cities are places with an abundance of strangers. People can live individualistic lives without having to get to know any of the neighbours around them. The freedom that comes with it is one of the great strengths of a city, however, it can also be regarded as a burden. Although I have friends living throughout Rotterdam, I hardly know any of my close neighbours. I don't believe there is a lack of will, I believe there is a lack of space where me and my neighbours can meet. I live on the third floor without any outdoor space. Harsh facades and streams of traffic often dominate city streets making them inhospitable for neighbourly interaction. I have found that there is one major unused urban space in my neighbourhood, Het Oude Noorden, that offers a lot of possibilities: flat rooftops.

With this project, I would like to demonstrate how the elevated levels of Het Oude Noorden can enhance neighbourly interaction by transforming flat rooftops into common space. By creating a second layer on top of the city, these common spaces will interfere with the existing public and private spaces. In this way, they soften the harsh edges of the city and improve a spatial complexity through which more spontaneous encounters can occur.  

The elevated commons are flexible and temporary structures that are in a continuous change according to the needs of the neighbours. They appear when necessary, change when needed and disappear when they become obsolete. I designed a set of architectural elements that are multi-purpose and multi-interpretable. This way, they can facilitate the changing use and programming of the common space. Ultimately the common spaces aim at bringing together a variety of neighbours through a shared need. By occupying the elevated levels they optimise the use of the urban fabric and generate spaces where neighbourly interaction can flourish.