Arnhem is a small city in the east of Holland surrounded by deep green forests, a winding river and inspiring people filled with lots of ideas. It’s a city bursting with creativity and untapped potential. One doesn’t need to look far to see this but rather up on top of a 7-story parking building.
Roof Garden Arnhem is an all-in-one location for a guaranteed fun time: it’s a park, garden, hang-out place, bar, silent disco location and showroom for Arnhem’s many creative and cultural initiatives. The roof caters to everyone in the city — a truly public space where everyone is welcome. Open during the summer time (with a winter counterpart in another indoor location), Roof Garden is the city’s prime hotspot for culture, entertainment and creativity, and the leading player in sustainable events management.
Roof Garden is an initiative of Willem Hofstede (communications, design, partners), Yosser Dekker (programmer) and Maarten van der Wolf (creative director, ping pong champion). Inspired by London’s Dalston Roof Park, they wanted to create something similar but unique to Arnhem. The concept is rooted in the trio’s deep love for the city — they believe that there is so much potential for change and to create in Arnhem, and they would like to do this in the most original, sustainable and environmental-friendly way as possible. Thus, Roof Garden was born in the summer of 2011.
It started with an idea to create something beautiful and meaningful from something ugly such as a bare, concrete parking lot. They all got together with the help of volunteers and ‘dakmakkers’ and turned it into a location that is alive, organic, and truly connected to its own community.
Roof Garden invites the community to take part in the project. There are local cooks serving ‘dakhap’ in some evenings. The program consists of workshops and events by local yoga teachers, urban gardeners and DJs, and the volunteers are all living in or around Arnhem. Roof Garden always aims to have its roots in the city. Another common thread that runs through all the project’s activities is sustainability. The roof uses their own electricity using solar panels spread out all over the roof. The furniture and chairs are made from wooden pallets, which volunteers helped build.
In the future, the founders would like to spread the concept to other (Dutch) cities, perhaps Rotterdam. They wouldn’t want to copy the whole idea and transfer it to another city. Instead, they would like to start from scratch, fit the next city’s traits, and have its own, unique character. But no matter the difference, the next Roof Garden will definitely always be the ‘new kid in town’, progressive, one step ahead and bursting with creativity like it has always been.
See you on the roof!
Angel Trinidad is a writer, editor and ambassador of Dutch and Scandinavian cultures. Born in Manila (1985) with a Scandinavian heart, she has lived in Sweden, Germany, Spain and currently Holland where she works for an international travel magazine. She specializes on nation branding and the promotion of arts and culture as a way to see the world. She loves listening to music, taking in contemporary art and design, hanging out in cafes and discovering new cities.