Rotterdam’s Central Railway Station, opened in 2014, is a beautiful, modern zig-zag of a building. Next door sits the hulking 1953 Groothandelsgebouw–one of the first buildings constructed after the bombing of the old city during World War II.
It’s quite a juxtaposition, and now, the two buildings are finally being connected by dramatic, temporary bridge. To celebrate 75 years of rebuilding Rotterdam, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV will literally bridge the two structures by adding a large staircase from the Centraal Station’s entrance that leads all the way up to the top of the Groothandelsgebouw, like a modern Mayan temple.
Designed to look like the scaffolding which has been such a common sight in a city that has been rebuilding itself for the better part of a century, MVRDV’s installation–called The Stairs–will stand 95 feet tall and stretch 187 feet across. As visitors climb the stairs, they will be able to see many of Rotterdam’s best examples of reconstruction architecture, such as the Euromast, the Hugh Maaskant-designed observation tower which opened in 1960, and the cable cars that run up and down the Coolsingel, one of Rotterdam’s best known streets. By the last step, visitors will be deposited on the Grootandsgebouw’s observation deck, where they will be able to view all of reconstructed Rotterdam at once.
The Stairs aren’t just a climb to a cool panorama of Rotterdam, though. They also lead to the Kriterion, a popular rooftop movie theater from the 1960s. Although the Kriterion has been closed for years, it will be re-opening for the month-long installation. From May 16 to June 12, those who climb The Stairs will be able to see a movie, or listen to a public talk, at the Kriterion when they reach the top. “I used to see Rotterdam from the Kriterion after the films and it gave an fantastic overview of the city” says MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas in a press release, adding that he wants to give this experience to a new generation of Rotterdammers.
Although The Stairs are only scheduled to be open for a little more than a month, MVRDV already seems to be angling to make them a permanent part of the cityscape. “The Stairs aim to animate the rooftop and to imagine a second layer in the next step of Rotterdam’s urban planning,” Maas says, adding: “It would be good to make it a permanent fixture.”