There’s a certain magic to urban rooftop spaces. Whether it’s a perfect summer’s day or a freezing winter night, a rooftop can lift you out of the urban jungle – no matter how tall the building. At new heights, the rules of the city don’t apply in quite the same way and visitors can leave their daily urban lives behind for a while. Here is our roundup of the ten most amazing rooftops around the world.
Longest bar in Shanghai on secret rooftop
What would you do with a pile of leftover traditional Chinese wooden doors? Architecture firm V10 answered this question by building the longest bar in Shanghai. The upcycled space, which some may regard as the perfect platform to enjoy the ever changing city skyline, was commissioned by local French/Israeli café Bread Etc as a secret ancillary space to their food service area.
The thoughtfully designed structure does more than entertain guests – in the evening, it turns into a light installation. A roof with built-in LED lights softly illuminates the bar below. Enjoy the making-of video here.
Metropolitan Museum Roof Garden, NYC
It would be out of character for the grandiose Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City to merely have a rooftop terrace for city views and dusk cocktails. The museum takes the experience to new heights with its annual Roof Garden Commission, inviting one artist each year to create a site-specific installation.
From commentaries on surveillance, to painted-flower-splattered tiles, to fusions of human figures and objects from the Met’s collection, the roof garden continues to push the boundaries and amaze visitors.
Your Rainbow Panorama, Denmark
The rooftop represents the point at which the city ends and the sky begins, where perceptions are distorted and people can lose themselves in a dreamlike reverie. Artist Olafur Eliasson is perhaps the ideal person to capture this space in an artwork – and he did so with Your Rainbow Panorama: a work situated above Denmark’s ARoS Aarhus Art Museum.
Visitors to the museum can walk through a circular tube of rainbow-tinted glass that interacts with the natural light of day and is illuminated at night.
For Berliners, Klunkerkranich is no big secret. High above the hip Neukölln district, an urban oasis awaits visitors – including bar, restaurant, open air lounge, dance floor and art installations.
On warm days, the space is buzzing with life. Especially locals frequently enjoy the relaxed vibe over the rooftops of their neighborhood.
Situated on top of an unassuming parking garage, Klunkerkranich is a hidden gem. Those who claw their way to the top will be surprised to find one of the finest rooftops in the city: a sprawling outdoor space with spectacular views and a bubbly ambience worthy of the trek.
OUE Skyspace, Los Angeles
Since 2016, the top of the highest building in Los Angeles has opened to the public and let’s visitors … slide. If it sounds terrifying, it is – but it’s also beautiful. Visitors to the iconic US Bank Tower can now slide in a glass tube between the 69th to the 70th floor while looking out on all of Los Angeles from the ocean to Downtown and beyond.
There’s also plenty to do for the thrill-averse: OUE Skyspace includes both an indoor and outdoor terrace for slide-free observation of the city in both day and night.
People spending the afternoon playing cricket or pétanque seems like a scene from long lost days. However, these traditional pastimes are not only alive and well but also newly hip at Skylight: a bar atop London’s Tobacco Dock.
Once a car park, the space is now a vibrant destination for Londoners to enjoy a cocktail and look out at the city. In addition to games, Skylight also offers an amazing selection of street food, making the otherwise retro atmosphere into something utterly unique.
Skypark, Hong Kong
What does the rooftop of the new generation look like? This is the question tackled by Dutch architecture firm Concrete at Skypark: a luxury coliving space in Hong Kong designed for the millennials.
Their solution combines the need for communal space with privacy, and entertainment with the simple pleasure of looking out at the city – all through a flowing floorplan.
Residents can enjoy an outdoor staircase that doubles as a cinema on Friday nights, access to the indoor clubhouse within a few steps of the outdoor picnic and barbeque area and the peace of mind knowing it all runs on sustainable energy and recycled water.
Guinigi Tower, Lucca
While modern rooftops around the world have been racing to out-do one another, installing pools, slides and fancy bars, Guinigi Tower in Lucca, Italy has stood stoically by for over 600 years.
Located in the center of the well-preserved renaissance-era city, the open-air rooftop of Guinigi Tower is home to not one but seven oak trees perched up in the clouds. The sight of the tree-studded rooftop is a surprising one, but the view is even better from above –underneath the cool shade of the trees but up in the sky.
Visitors to the German city of Darmstadt may encounter a strange sight: a U-shaped building that looks like a layer cake topped with a garden and onion domes, peppered with oddly shaped windows.
This residential complex, named Waldspirale or “forest spiral,” was designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, known for his eccentric and wildly colorful works. The iconic design seems to stand outside of time: appearing simultaneously futuristic and ancient.
Residents can enjoy their building’s rooftop garden whose array of flora is as fancy as the building itself, including lime, beech, and maple trees alike.
8 House, Copenhagen
Who says a roof has to be flat? 8 House in Copenhagen brings the simple pleasure of hanging out on a rooftop down to level with their sloping grass structure. Designed by Bjarke Ingels, 8 House was the recipient of the Housing Winner award in the 2011 World Architecture Festival.
The space is unique in that it combines retail and residential properties, creating a kind of microvillage – shaped into the figure eight. The sloping grass-covered rooftop adds to the architect’s original intent: reimagining community. Plus, it’s probably the world’s only rooftop featuring a street-accessible bike path.