ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands, May 13 (Xinhua) -- In Rotterdam, Europe's largest seaport, the construction of an elevated linear park -- the "longest and narrowest in the Netherlands" -- has become a crucial element of the local authorities' plan to transform the city into a more sustainable and climate adaptive metropolis.
A few kilometers to the north of the city center, the so-called Hofbogenpark will be turned into a new two-kilometer-long and eight-meter-wide city park created on the roof of a former railway viaduct.
Climate adaptation is one of the reasons the city of Rotterdam has decided to embark on the construction, which is part of a larger-scale plan called "Seven Projects" expected to cost around 330 million euros (343 million U.S. dollars) in total.
"We know how to handle water, but we still have this challenge as a low-land country," the city's Vice Mayor, Vincent Karremans, said. "This stresses the need for being climate adaptive and invest more in our climate adaptation. One way to do this is by adding more green, to change a concrete jungle into an actual green jungle."
This elevated park is not only about creating a park, but also giving space to the people to enjoy, said the vice mayor.
The former railway line, which used to connect Rotterdam to The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government, runs right through the city's dense northern districts.
Underneath the railway, there is a monumental building with a long structure made of 189 arches, which was also abandoned until a few years ago, but it is now turned into offices and shops, following a city project to reuse the building's space.
Work to turn the building's rooftop into a garden is already in progress. "We took away the rail tracks and it is now an empty and sensational roof, which we will turn into a park," said Dirk van Peijpe, co-founder of De Urbanisten, Hofbogenpark's design company.
The elevated park will connect the densely populated neighborhoods around it and the surrounding streets will become part of a wide green strip.
"Having trees on the roof garden is not possible but we can plant new and extra trees on the ground. We can de-pave the streets, making them accessible for active mobility like walking and biking and providing green spaces in front of the houses," van Peijpe said.
Construction work at Hofbogenpark is scheduled to be finished by 2024. It is designed to become an "ecological corridor," a nature inclusive, climate sensitive and easily accessible park, where "green" is interpreted in a broader sense than just adding more trees and plants.
The focus is to be all inclusive, van Peijpe said. "This means that the park would provide space and options for people of all ages, of all backgrounds from Rotterdam or from the neighboring areas and cities to feel welcome."
All-inclusiveness will also apply to animals. The ambition is to attract several target species that are indicators for a healthy ecosystem.
"We are part of nature, and we ask ourselves how we can welcome the house sparrow, the hedgehog and the butterfly," van Peijpe said. "We design solutions that can provide a diversity of species in planting and the creation of habitats, adjusted to seasons to provide a healthy ecosystem."
Part of the roof will also be used to clean rainwater collected from the neighborhood.
"When the park is finished, it will invite people to walk and enjoy at height in a colorful and fragrant landscape," said van Peijpe.