Recently our rooftopper Anne traveled to Barcelona to attend the first physical meeting of the European Creative Rooftop Network (ECRN). The ECRN consists of nine different partner organisations, from nine different European cities (Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Belfast, Chemnitz, Faro, Gothenburg, Nicosia and Rotterdam). The organizations in this network organize cultural events on roofs and want to stimulate the use of roofs.
Over the next four years, these partners will work together on various projects to make better use of Europe’s roof landscape. Anne has been selected as ‘Nomad’ in this project by festival organizer & platform for roof development ROEF. The Nomad Academy is one of ECRN’s projects and is a group of nine young professionals (nomads) from the different European partner cities who will each start a research project aimed at stimulating the use of roofs for cultural and sustainable purposes in Europe.
Coincidències, the partner organization from Barcelona, organized the first meeting. This party organizes cultural events such as concerts, dance and theater performances on all kinds of rooftops in Barcelona. Historically, the rooftops in Barcelona have been used a lot, as places to relax, for communal dinners or to do the laundry. The roofs were also often used for important meetings as it was a peacefull place to discuss among themselves and to make decisions.
In recent years, Barcelona has faced many problems caused by ‘gentrification’, i.e. the phenomenon of attracting increasingly wealthy residents, displacing the original inhabitants of Barcelona. Partly because of this, the roof culture has been lost because people no longer own their own roof. Coincidències tries to bring back this roof culture by taking people on the roof for concerts, dance performances and theatre.
Coincidències took us on a rooftop tour of Barcelona. The first roof that was visited was the roof of the CaixaForum. A former textile factory that now functions as an art gallery and cultural center. Part of the gigantic roof of the building is often used for events, which are organized by Coincidències, among others. Striking detail: the roof is not flat or pointed, but wavy. This gives an extra sturdy construction and ensures better water drainage. The rooftop tour continued to a lush rooftop garden close to the beach in the Barceloneta neighborhood. The roof of an apartment complex used by the residents. Gravel walkways lead past several alcoves with benches where you can enjoy the Mediterranean plants in full bloom. This project has been realized through the efforts of the organization ‘Huestros in the Sky’ in collaboration with the municipality of Barcelona. Huestros in the Sky is committed to greening Barcelona’s roofs to improve biodiversity, store rainwater and combat heat stress. This roof is also undulating, creating a kind of hills of vegetation.
The last roof of the tour was a roof on the 17th floor in the Le Pau neighborhood. This roof offers a 360 degree view of the city, the beach and the sea. Coincidències organized a performance here by a tango duo, a singer accompanied by a guitarist. The duo played and sang very passionately, as befits true tango. Each song was interspersed with a short speech by Isaias, the director of Coincidències. This music, the fantastic view, the setting sun with the color changing sky and of course the good company made it an evening to remember.
The first ECRN meeting was a success, knowledge and ideas to use the roof landscape were exchanged, but above all good relationships were created that make international cooperation possible. After 1.5 years of Covid in which everyone was locked up in their own country, it was a welcome experience to speak with people from other countries who are working on the same task. Everyone is looking forward to the next four years of visiting the remaining eight partner cities and working together towards a successful project!