A Look Back at the
Hot Trends in Greenroof Design for 2007
By Linda S. Velazquez and Haven Kiers
Last May, Greenroofs.com Publisher Linda Velazquez and Design Editor Haven Kiers presented a lively and fast-paced session of the hottest avant-garde greenroofs around at the 5th Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our completely subjective choices were based on our exposure and opinions in the greenroof world here on Greenroofs.com and from a multitude of multimedia including architecture and design magazines, news articles, websites, blogs, radio interviews, TV shows, you name it!
Revisiting our Top 10 List and these project vignettes is a great way to have a little fun and hopefully jumpstart everyone's creative juices for the new year. These are both new and rediscovered projects that we can draw inspiration from, talk about, delight in, and emulate in 2008 and beyond. To learn more about each project, click the hyperlink and see the complete profile in The Greenroof Projects Database.
We are presenting our updated original paper here from the Design Track, Session 2.4: Innovative Uses of Green Roofs along with new photos and projects from our actual PowerPoint presentation from the Minneapolis conference. It's hard to be cutting edge and avant-garde with the latest design trends when the paper is due months before the conference! By presentation time we had added and edited projects according to new information hot off the presses.
Look for our second installment, aptly titled "The 2008 Top 10 Hot Trends in Greenroof Design," at next year's Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards & Trade Show in Baltimore, MD. And new this time around will be our Greenroof Design Trends Survey ~ we want your opinions on what you consider to be the latest greenroof trends. What projects do you consider noteworthy, pushing design limits, sexy, awesome? What living roof applications are no longer just unique but you see becoming actual trends within the market and industry? Who are the designers to keep an eye on?
Participate in our 2008 Greenroof Design Trends Survey, now available online. We expect to hear back from you!
HOT TRENDS IN DESIGN 2007:
CHIC SUSTAINABILITY, UNIQUE DRIVING FACTORS & “BOUTIQUE” GREENROOFS
Greenroofs are constantly touted for their ecological benefits but rarely for their contribution to the current architectural vernacular. This inaugural yearly list will look beyond the function of greenroofs and instead focus on the top 10 hottest architectural trends in vegetated rooftop design.
Greenroofs deliver much more to the urban landscape than just the obvious ecological, economic and aesthetic attributes of stormwater management, temperature and energy reduction, and provision of additional green space. Why do clients want a greenroof? Should a greenroof be defined solely by its function as an ecological cover? Can greenroofs also be sexy and outrageous? Are they the next big design trend in architecture? How are designers pushing the limits? These are the questions that underpin our collection of innovative projects and market drivers from across the globe.
We offer a fast-paced Top 10 List of vignettes that thrum with oppositions of our established perceptions and experience, highlighting out-of-the ordinary applications, specialty designs and even bizarre projects on the boards. Looking beyond stormwater and heat islands, we'll explore plans for innovative recreation, including a rooftop ski slope in Delft, the Netherlands, and a converted helipad-turned-temporary grass tennis court 692 feet in the air in Dubai. We’ll look at less typical greenroof market drivers, such as a 670 SF doggie greenspace for a 10-year old, 9-pound Yorkie and a rooftop garden with plants from the Bible as a teaching laboratory for ministers. See a native desert greenroof in the American southwest and an old fashioned front porch perched on a greenroof in the middle of Manhattan, complete with squeaky screen door and a rocking chair. Explore greenroofs that defy expectations of sedum and wildflower meadows and instead integrate sleek and sexy vegetation with the building form. Proposed projects we'll delve into include plans for rice paddies on rooftop farms in China and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Village with 50% greenroof coverage...
The Top 10 List of Hot Greenroof Design Trends for 2007:
10) Unique Market Drivers: Boutique Greenroofs
9) Sports & Recreation in Unexpected Places
8) Living Roofs and Living Walls = a Living Skin for Green Buildings
7) Eco Resorts, Hotels & Therapeutic Gardens
6) Food on the Roof: Skyrise Urban Ag
5) Physics-Defying & Cutting-Edge Applications
4) Government and Big Box Retailers as Big Environmentalists
3) Cool Green Residences: Organic Integration of Mind, Body & Soul
2) Bigger is Better – Mega Greenroofs
1) Visionary Proposed Projects
Favorites not on “The List”
On a lighter note, and before we get to the real thing, here are some categories and projects that for one reason or another just couldn’t cut it for our 2007 Top 10 List. But we’re going to show them, just for fun…
A new organic way to green the skyline: The “Green Gherkin,” Inhabitat's April Fool’s ‘07 Inspiration – CHIA vegetated wall and roof panels?
Too bad it’s not real!
Greenroof Transportation? Leave it up to the Swiss! Interestingly, the company advertised is a medicinal herb company. Photo Courtesy:
Rob Berghage from Penn State.
Fashion & Décor: What to wear at your next green party from Inhabitat…And how to dress your tablescape and surroundings for green chic sustainability and success, too!
And our favorite fantasy living roof of all time not on “The List” is...Edible Residential Greenroofs in Middle Earth: Unfortunately, Hobbits were not eligible this year, but were encouraged to try again…
And now without further ado, back to the real thing - download the complete PDF:
HOT TRENDS IN DESIGN 2007:
CHIC SUSTAINABILITY, UNIQUE DRIVING FACTORS & “BOUTIQUE” GREENROOFS...
Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA Associate, LEED™ AP, is publisher and editor of Greenroofs.com and is the designer of The Greenroof Projects Database. She has a Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture degree and also is a greenroof design consultant.
When not too busy editing, she occasionally writes Sky Gardens ~ Travels in Landscape Architecture which features areas of the world currently greening their roofs (now morphed into the Sky Gardens Blog!). Linda welcomes your comments; contact her at: email@example.com.
Haven Kiers also holds a degree in Landscape Architecture, based in Davis, CA, currently happily working as a new mom. Haven designs and presents nationally about greenroofs, and is also a trainer for the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Green Roof 101 and 201 Courses.
Haven is the Design Editor here at Greenroofs.com and welcomes your comments. You may contact Haven at: DesignEditor@greenroofs.com.
The opinions expressed by our Contributing Editors may not necessarily reflect the beliefs of Greenroofs.com, and are offered to our readers to simply present individual views and experiences and open a dialogue of further discussion, debate and research. Enjoy, and if you have a particular comment, please contact the author or send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inaugural Column, October 2005
Green, Chic, and Sexy - And Good for You, Too!
By Haven Kiers
All Photos Courtesy Haven Kiers unless otherwise noted.
Let’s face it. The current mental image most Americans have of green roofs is one of scraggly overgrown plants that turn brown in the winter and make the house below look messy and poorly maintained. In most minds, a green roof is for hippies who want to save the world. It belongs in places like Berkeley, atop a straw bale house half buried in the earth with solar panels lining the driveway. Unfortunately, the green roof industry hasn’t done much to try and change that perception. Rather than actively working to package the green roof as the latest innovation in design, the green roof industry has instead been focusing on how good it is for the public (environmentally, economically, and educationally). And as we all know, no one wants to invest in something simply because it is good for them.
The challenge, therefore, lies in finding the right balance between idealistic principles and cutting edge design. My goal is to try to present the green roof as something sleek, chic, and sexy, without sacrificing its social and environmental appeal. I want to give green roofs the attention and fanfare they rightly deserve from people that otherwise wouldn’t give them a second glance.
Left: Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Photo Source: Landscape Architecture Magazine of 5.98; Right: BedZED in London, England; Photo Source: Beddington Zero Emission Development
For this first column, I’m going to highlight a mixture of green roofs that don’t fall into the typical mold. Let’s start by looking at a few green roofs that make use of color as a means of expression. In Bordeaux, France, architects planted the entire roof expanse of an air traffic control center with rows of lavender. The intense purple is a stark contrast against the gray tarmac and concrete of the runway system (I should know; I snuck through the security booth to get a gander at it!). Not only does it stand out as a beacon for pilots looking to land, but it also provides a sense of regionalism. At the Vancouver Public Library, in Vancouver, B.C., Cornelia Oberlander used cool colors to create serpentine bands of contrasting grasses that provide visual relief for office workers above. Architect Bill Dunster followed a different tact for the BedZED - Beddington Zero Emission Development (an environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient mix of affordable housing and work space in Beddington, Sutton, England), combining brightly painted vents with cobalt blue photovoltaics and a rainbow hued mat of sedums to create an explosion of color on the rooftop.
Left: The Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in France;
Right: Mowing the Roof.
Construction of green roofs has come a long way from the leaky earth sheltered homes of the seventies. In Paris, France, architects Andrault, Pavat, Prouvé, and Guvan used a stepped system of plastic grids to contain panels of turf across the 45 degree slope of the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy. The close-cropped grass of the pyramidal building seemingly defies the laws of gravity and begs the question, “How do they mow that lawn?” Luckily, I happened to be visiting the site on a day when they were mowing and saw the technology in action: a cable and pulley system rigged to a standard push lawnmower does the job.
Vertical supports, above and below; Photos by Haven Kiers
In Southern France, architects Jourda and Perraudin created one of the world’s suspended green roofs, an 8,000-square meter umbrella-like roof, hanging from poles like a circus tent. Blanketed with a mixture of wildflowers and grasses, the roof of this international school in Lyon creates a giant canopy for the classrooms below. I visited this site during a week when school was not in session and so was unable to go inside and really experience the building. Still, just being able to see the immense poles required to support the roof up close was pretty spectacular.
While some green roofs rely on color or technology to intrigue and attract, others depend on form and space. At the main terminal of the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, sedum covered glass pyramids seem to explode from the roof, peeling back the structure of the building and revealing windows into the bustle of the terminal below. Like most airport terminals, the structure consists of two levels, a level below for departing passengers and a level above for arriving passengers. Entering taxis and cars on the second level are therefore afforded an eye-level view of the green roof (as a departing passenger, the roof is a little trickier to find; I had to take an elevator all the way to the top of a neighboring hotel before I realized that I had been under it all along!).
Amsterdam International Airport Schiphol Plaza Greenroof
The proposed Renzo Piano redesign of the California Academy of Science in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park creates a roof of mounds and valleys that dip and rise in various heights and sizes, creating pockets of shade and opening vistas into the parkland beyond. The building is supposed to be completed by 2008, and I, for one, can’t wait to see it. Visitors will be able to climb up onto a viewing platform and study the roof’s topography up close.
But not all green roofs need to be chic and modern to capture attention. In less urban settings, green roofs can help blend structures in with their natural surroundings. The architect Peter Zumthor used the setting of the Swiss Alps to its best advantage by seemingly merging his thermal baths into its slopes.
Peter Zumthor's naturalistic approach in the Swiss Alps.
The turfed roof becomes a natural extension of the grassy hillsides above it, and the local quartzite and concrete building juts out like a rock embedded in a quarry. So complete is the blending of architectural structure and landscape that the sight of goats grazing on the roof does not seem out of context. If there is one green roof that I recommend going to visit, this is it!
Goats, grassy hillsides, and grassy greenroofs blend together in Switzerland with ecological beauty.
Let me conclude by reiterating the main premise of this column: The fact that green roofs are environmentally friendly does not preclude them from being aesthetically appealing.
Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori says it best:
"We often see plants on roofs of modern buildings, but they hardly ever blend in with the architecture. This is because rooftop gardens are usually designed by ecologists, who dislike artificial things. They would rather suppress the artificial to better express the plants. But I think both the plants and the building have to look good. It's not easy, but I want them to get along well."
Haven Kiers is a landscape architect in Bishop, CA, currently working with Mono County. Haven designs and presents nationally about greenroofs, and is also a trainer for the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Green Roof 101 and 201 Courses.
Haven is the new Design Editor here at Greenroofs.com and welcomes your comments. You may contact Haven at: DesignEditor@greenroofs.com.
* Reader Email From: Philosophically Understated in Stuttgart
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 6:57 AM
Subject: The world's only suspended greenroof in Lyons, France
Photo Source and Credit: Jörg Breuning, Green Roof Service LLC.
I really enjoy reading the articles, especially when people aren't quite correct. The "world’s only suspended greenroof in Lyons, France," for example, is actually a rather typical roofing method here in Europe. Here in Stuttgart, Germany, we have a 130,000 sf suspended greenroof, see above. I believe it was built in 1995 or earlier. On this particular project I have been up on the roof only once and I took this picture in August, 2005, from a spot where you can see many other greenroofs. As a local you know all the good places to go within a city :) and when I offer greenroof tours this isn't a place where I go (because you have to walk 30 min. and most guests are not used to that).
This suspended greenroof is an extra heavy system to keep the roof down during heavy storms because underneath it is open space, as parking lots for buses. The building is owned by the public transportation company and they have at least 2,000,000 sf of greenroofs on all their buildings together in Stuttgart. I will find out more when I am in Germany in mid July - mid August.
I know that Americans like all the superlatives while the Germans prefer the understatement.
When talking about greenroofs the word "only" sounds good but most likely you will find that it has been done before; usually "new" designs have already happened elsewhere, although it may be hard to believe. Suspended roof construction with or without greenroof is a common technique in Germany or at least in Stuttgart. Maybe you have seen a photo of the DaimlerChrysler V6/V8 engine plant? On this project they combined this roof technique with a kind of traditional factory design.
Prof. Jörg Schlaich (70 years old) and his former teacher Fritz Leonhardt started out with all kinds of suspended construction (actually both are from Stuttgart). With projects all over the world (many prototypes in Stuttgart) they have taught this technique to many, many people all over the world, too.
Basically I wanted to say that in Stuttgart many things are just accepted as normal, although they may be celebrated every year somewhere else (whether it was the place where the first car was built - Gottlieb Daimler, Porsche = VW Beetle, Robert Bosch, etc.). As I said, perhaps it is the simply the philosophy of German understatement of the people, or it could be the lack of marketing skills - who knows?
Regards, Philosophically Understated in Stuttgart
Publisher's Note: I did change the captions on Haven's Lyons greenroof just a bit to reflect this fact.
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