Rooftops International Contesta Competition
Client: Contesta
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with K. Sobus, F. Parraga Gamero
Year: 2011


…under the sky that mirrors the busy life at the city floor

Life on the rooftops is all about freedom, independence and self support. Our concept is the building of an independent community that mirrors the busy life at the city floor. Community Building is prefabricated, light weight, adaptable, cheap and full of freedom and joy. Its program is living and sharing. It consists of a series of private living units with half climate zones, connected with bridges. It is suspended over the flat roofs of a city block. The bridges connect the units and form a loop over the different roofs. Bridges together with half climate zones make a social space. Community Building can grow and extend itself with foot bridges crossing narrow streets.


1. each living unit has a deck which is situated on top of trusses spanning over the roof underneath.
2. a living unit has one minimal 30-m2 cube that contains sanitary, kitchen, storage, sleeping and living.
3. all units have different types of permanent tent structures (max. 110 m2) that make half climate zones around the cubes.
4. a steel stairway on the outside of the city block connects to all units through foot bridges.
5. one shared unit, closest to the stairway, is for mixed use.

The social life mainly depends on the many typologies that can be made with variations of decks, cubes and half climate zones. The private climate zones are made of steel profiles and flexible skins made of different thin membranes, curtains and other semi-transparent materials. We programmed the half climate zones with a micro basketball floor, a vegetable garden, a chicken cage, a big barbeque, etc. The Shared Unit functions like a guest room for family or friends, mini class room, children playground, party room, office space, diner room, library, etc). It has a shared vegetable garden which is fertilized with the dry compost coming from all toilets (10 kg/unit/month). The social life together depends on the wishes and needs of the individual residents.

Decks and units are placed onto the roofs with a mobile crane. Trusses are mounted onto the facade walls; corrugated metal sheets are mounted on these trusses and on top multiplex sheets finish the decks that are suspended over the roofs. The cubes and all further steel profiles for the half climate zones are mounted on top of the trusses. Community Building has water and electricity from the urban net. It has no sewage, because of the use of dry compost toilets. Solar cell panels on one roof generate basic electricity for led lighting. The cubes have a high level of insulation with 120 mm technical foam.