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march 2013
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3rd International Green Roof Congress - Hamburg Will Be the Showcase for Green Roofs in 2013


By Wolfgang Ansel
International Green Roof Association (IGRA)


All Photos and Graphics Courtesy of Wolfgang Ansel Unless Otherwise Noted

Green Roofs coming home – This slogan borrowed from the world of football can be aptly used to describe the 3rd International Green Roof Congress (13 – 15 May 2013) to be held in Hamburg, Germany.

The port metropolis already belonged to the Premier League of German Green Roof Communities back in the 80s.  New challenges to be faced in the areas of climate protection and adaption, as well as in urban living quality, have put Green Roofs back on the agenda.  It is the perfect choice of location to present the current status of Green Roofs / Vertical Greenery and to discuss its connection with modern architectural concepts and urban planning solutions.  The event is embedded in the International Garden Show (IGS) and the International Building Exhibition (IBA) which are taking place in Hamburg in the same year.

 Spectacular rooftop usage ideas - the sky is the limit (Copyright IGRA).

Under the patronage of the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, the International Green Roof Association (IGRA) and the German Roof Gardener Association (DDV) are presenting their 3rd International Green Roof Congress.  The list of 28 speakers includes sustainability experts from different disciplines like:

  • Peter Busby (architect, Perkins + Will, USA)

  • Jakob Lange (architect, Bjarke Ingels Group, Denmark)

  • Wong Mun Summ (architect, WOHA, Singapore)

  • Martin Haas (architect, founding member of the German Sustainable Building Council)

  • Prof. Herbert Dreiseitl (urban designer and water artist, Atelier Dreiseitl, Germany)

  • Roland Appl (Green Roof Engineer, International Green Roof Association, Germany)

  • Prof. Dr. Manfred Köhler (landscape architect, University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg, Germany)

  • Dusty Gedge (Green Roof campaigner,

  • Ilya Mochalov (landscape architect, International Federation of Landscape Architects, Russia)

Based on their philosophy to integrate nature and architecture these and other experts will present some of the world's most spectacular Green Roof projects (e.g. VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center – Vancouver, Newton Suites – Singapore, Potsdamer Platz – Berlin, Mountain Dwellings – Copenhagen, Zuidpark Rooftop Farm - Amsterdam).

 The roof of the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center is inspired by the organic form of an orchid (Copyright IGRA).

The lecture programme will be complemented by two hands-on workshops with certified Green Roof experts, landscape architects, landscape contractors, researchers and delegates of municipal authorities.

Workshop 1: "Green Roofs – Practical Experience" will provide participants with a profound knowledge of the planning and installation process by taking into account the coordination of the roofer and landscape contractor working packages, which is often neglected.

Additionally, emphasis will be placed on the technical and ecological performance of Green Roofs.  Based on the results of a long term study in the Netherlands (Prof. Christoph Maria Ravesloot, University of Applied Science Rotterdam) and a 4 Year Industry-Academia Partnership between the Green Roof company ZinCo GmbH and the University of Sheffield (Ralf Walker, Division Manager R&D ZinCo GmbH), the standards and practice of Green Roofs will be challenged.

 The new Scandinavian way of Green Roofs - A publicly accessible rooftop park in the heart of Copenhagen (Copyright P. Malmos).

Workshop 2: "Green Roof Policies: Urban Planning and Stormwater Management" will deal with the fundamental question how can a 21st-century metropolis continue to grow in a sustainable and balanced way?  Within the last years, the city of Hamburg has prepared the ground to renew its Green Roof strategy (see my presentation “Relaunch - Hamburg's New Green Roof Strategy, Virtual Summit 2013).

But the process of implementation is still in full swing.  In order to develop the best strategy for Hamburg the city has invited experts from the U.S. (Amy Chomowicz, City of Portland), the UK (Dusty Gedge,, Austria (Edmund Maurer – City of Linz), Denmark (Dorthe Rømø – City of Copenhagen and Michael Berkshire – City of Chicago) and Germany (Wolfgang Ansel, IGRA).  The local experiences will be presented by Prof. Wolfgang Dickhaut (HafenCity University) and Dr. Hannah Bornholdt (Ministry of Urban Development and Environment Hamburg).

 The congress venue “Hotel Empire Riverside” marks the Hamburg Harbour skyline (Copyright Andrea Flak).

A special highlight of the congress programme is the panel discussion "Green Buildings - Building with Nature” that brings the audience in direct contact with the speakers.  And there is the presentation of the current practical report “Intelligent Cities – On the Way Towards Sustainable, Efficient and Liveable Towns” by Martin Oldeland (Director; German Association of Environmental Management).

For more details about the speakers and the topics please visit the Congress website.  The participants can expect a very intensive knowledge transfer and new ideas to make the roof a living space.  True to the slogan, “The sky is the limit.”

 “Breathing Architecture” – a fundamental principle of WOHA's architecture
(Copyright WOHA).

Excursions in and around Hamburg will demonstrate the various ways of using Green Roofs as nature conservation areas, stormwater management facilities, or rooftop gardens.  Hamburg has a very long tradition in Green Roofs.  Some of the projects date back more than six decades whereas others reflect current urban lifestyle trends.

 This Green Roof Building is under historical registry (Copyright IGRA).

Building the City Anew: Plenty of nature and visionary projects like the International Garden Show (IGS) and the International Building Exhibition (IBA) make Hamburg an experimental field for modern urban planning and thereby the perfect place to hold the 3rd International Green Roof Congress in 2013.  The International Garden Show Hamburg covers 100 hectares and offers visitors a colourful mix of parkland and water worlds.  Based on the motto “Around the World in 80 Gardens” the visitors are whisked through 80 different, imaginatively designed gardens and experiences.

The International Building Exhibition will show the new development “Wilhemsburg Mitte” with its ground-breaking sustainable buildings, like the “Water”-, “Hybrid”- and “Smart Material”-houses. 

 The water houses in the middle of a rainwater retention basin demonstrate how water locations can be exploited for residential purposes (Copyright IBA).

The “BIQ-House,” for example, is the first house in the world to have an algae façade that serves as a biochemical reactor whereas the façade of the “Wälderhaus” has embedded plant-based nests for birds and insects.  Further highlights are the newly designed “Global Neighbourhood” and a climate protection concept which sets new standards with the “IBA Dock,” the “Energy Bunker,” and the “Energy Hill Georgswerder.”  These buildings will showcase forward looking ways of living and working.

 The visitors will experience the rich diversity of African, American, Asian, Australian and European garden tradition (Copyright IGS).

Spectacular landscaping and innovative architecture connected by Green Roofs – There is more than one good reason to visit Hamburg in 2013.  For more information, please visit the congress website at:

Wolfgang Ansel

Publisher's Note:  See Wolfgang in action at the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2013, held by, in association with the World Green Infrastructure Network (WGIN) - now On Demand through April 13, 2013:

"Relaunch - Hamburg's New Green Roof Strategy"  Hamburg was one of the green roof pioneer cities in Germany in the 1980's.  However, in the following decades the approaches were not implemented consistently.  Against the background of climate change adaptation, the multiple benefits of green roofs are now receiving more attention.  IGRA is working in close cooperation with the city of Hamburg and the Hafencity University Hamburg to develop a green roof strategy for Germany's second largest city.

Wolfgang explains the municipal strategy and the various activities that have been undertaken in the last years (seminars, workshops, publications, scientific investigations) to support this process.  The culmination of the activities is the organization of the 3rd International Green Roof Congress in Hamburg in 2013.

Wolfgang Ansel, Hamburg

Photo Courtesy of Wolfgang Ansel

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Wolfgang Ansel of the International Green Roof Association (IGRA)

Wolfgang Ansel is a biologist and the Director of the International Green Roof Association (IGRA).  One of his main areas of work is implementing Green Roof policies and guidelines on an international level.  Wolfgang Ansel is co-author of different Green Roof books.  During the last years, he was an invited speaker at congresses in Europe, North America and Asia.  IGRA's targets include the worldwide promotion of the ecological Green Roof idea, an international knowledge transfer in the field of Green Roofs and the stimulation of international standards for good practices and reliable Green Roof technology.

Contact Wolfgang Ansel:
International Green Roof Congress
Congress Office
PO Box 2025
72610 Nuertingen / Germany
Tel.: +49 7022 / 7191980

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