Our team at Think outside gardens have developed a number of rooftop gardens and always enjoy seeing these usually redundant spaces become both functional and beautiful. With the increase in density of living especially towards the city centres, this is a really exciting way to add value.
Often these spaces present opportunities to enjoy a view or extend a living space and to bring a green element to a barren area.
Rooftop gardens have been developed extremely well in many of the major cities around the world and Sydney is no exception with the added benefit of having a climate suited to outdoor living.
Some of our favourites from around the world include:
Providing greenery to the lower western side of New York this repurposed stretch of Rail Bridge is now a lush parkland of architecturally striking paths and seating, installations and water features with lush layers of planting. The built element references its previous life as a rail line with a strong industrial aesthetic comprising concrete, steel and chunky timber. The gardens are layered with grasses, seasonal flowers and soft fleshy foliage typical of northern hemisphere planting styles. Developments like the Highline are environmentally aware and create a refuge for free thinking and relaxation in an otherwise busy city environment. A real credit to the city of New York.
Landscape architects Jacque Vergely and Architect Philippe Mathieux have also repurposed a disused rail line into an elevated parkland in the French capital, Paris. Open to pedestrians and cyclists the park is an area of retreat from busy Parisians of all ages.
Pleached and deciduous trees line the parkland creating a stunning seasonal canopy. Thick hedges, cloud pruning and whimsical seasonal flowers in the underplanting provide a delicate formal structure typical of French landscape architecture.
The built element is complementary to the stunning bridge the garden now occupies with wrought iron arbours and handrails, stone paths with highlights of red brick capping.
One really interesting rooftop garden is on the top of the Ford truck assembly plant in Detroit. Designed by Xero Flor America and its German parent company the environmental and financial benefits are quite surprising.
With the raising of environmental targets and cost of compliance, Ford stepped back from the issues and searched for alternative solutions in much the same way as Henry Ford would have approached the problem.
As well as saving on roofing materials and cooling costs the green roof addresses water runoff through a complex purification process.
This roof system had been widely used in Europe for many years presenting an effective solution at around one-fifth of the cost of traditional compliance. The Ford plant development has now inspired many solutions in similar industrial situations across the United States.
This windswept space tiled terrace area was uninviting and disused until it was transformed into a modern outdoor entertaining area with a wave-shaped timber deck curving up the wall. The pop of apple green colour on the main wall referenced the interior elements of the unit and was complemented with crisp white pots and hardy succulent planting creating a space perfect for intimate drinks on a summers evening or partying into the night.
Design is as much about restraint as it is about applying concepts and ideas. Applying a restrained pallet was appropriate to both the modern styling of the home and the magnificent view over Balmoral beach and out to the headland.
Access – Depending on the fit out cranes are often required. While this is an exciting element for the construction crews it can be an element that draws resources away from the development budget. Considered design solutions should review options against their value to the project.
For example Plants in pots can be a cost-effective solution to provide greenery. The challenge is to install pots big enough to allow plants to prosper.
Structural requirements – Construction of any element on a rooftop should consider the structural integrity of the roof.
Waterproofing – Rooftop gardens are by definition on a roof above another room and often habitable. Works may require fixings that do not penetrate the existing waterproof membrane.
Balustrading – Rooftop gardens often require the levels to be raised which in turn reduces the required balustrade height. Solutions may include using one meter high planters against a wall or installing an internal handrail to ensure compliance.