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In addition to minimizing energy and materials use, reducing pollution and reserving habitat, ecological design is all about fostering community, health and beauty (Van der Ryn and Cowan, 1996).  Architects, city planners, engineers and landscape architects, among others, have the opportunity to amend our built spaces to include living, moving matter.   We can create aesthetically pleasing and vigorous, sustainable native and/or naturalized plant communities with the addition of greenroofs.

Optigrun Residential Extensive Greenroof

Source: Optigrün international AG, www.optigruen.de 

Optigrun Tetto Verde, Italy

Source:  ZinCo Tetto Verde; www.greentarget.com 

 

 

 

 



The visual appeal of greenroofs offers endless design possibilities, and is only limited by its function and the slope of the roof.
  Naturalistic landscapes of meadows planted with wildflower drifts or wildly geometric plans are examples.  Sloped vegetated roofs create exciting, unexpected visual effects, and the forgotten potential of flat roofs can be explored through a myriad of design possibilities.

Planting schemes can be designed in accordance with viewing perspectives. Greater massing of plants can create a more dramatic effect, and detail plantings are possible for the interactive amenities provided by intensive greenroofs. These can offer gathering spots and sitting areas and often have fountains, bridges, and ponds.  These are the gardens of city dwellers.

Optima/Optigrun Optima/Optigrun

Source: Optigrün international AG, www.optigruen.de

Source: Optigrün international AG, www.optigruen.de

Where integration into natural surroundings is desired, greenroofs blend in effortlessly with the environment.  In suburban areas or the open countryside it may be desirable to build unobtrusively, and a greenroof would provide an organic solution.  Overhead views could actually be camouflaged if the design mimicked its surroundings.  Architectural styles can be complemented or contrasted by the use of greenroofs, in either case providing a unique effect.

Commercial and industrial roofs no longer need to be eyesores of endless concrete, asphalt or gravel.  They certainly are unattractive, to say the least, and  aesthetics are rarely considered in their design.  Extensive greenroofs could alleviate the harsh, stark and downright ugly views.

 

“We can make choices about the surroundings in which we live and work.  Prosperity and beauty need not exclude one another.” – H.R.H. The Prince of Wales (London Ecology Unit, 1993)


 

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