Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

Green Roofs are changing Architecture and Planning

Here is a great look at what is possible in the field of green roofs.

Many thanks and CREDIT to: Erik Christensen via Wikipedia, Credit: Alyson Hurt in Wikipedia, Credit: Vancouver Convention Centre, Credit: Green Roofs.org, Credit: Lloyd Alter, Toronto, Credit: Tree Hugger, Credit: Scott Torrance, Credit: Credit CPG Consultants via Greensource, Credit: Fred Ballerini (project biologist, green roof design and installation) Architect: Carver + Schicketanz, via Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

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Green roofs are not new; they have been used for thousands of years because they helped insulate, thrived in the sun instead of rotting, and other than the increased structure, they were cheap as, well, the dirt that they were planted in. Then flat roofs came in and were covered in tar and asphalt, which needed a lot of maintenance. Engineers and architects didn’t worry much about them; nobody could see them. Roofs became parking lots for equipme
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Sometimes they developed naturally and organically, like this rooftop garden in lower Manhattan that like Topsy, just grew. And grew, and eventually evolved from a New York roof garden into what they now call a Green Roof.

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They are showing up everywhere, even when they don't quite fit the architectural idiom. The new green roof at the Vancouver Convention Centre is big and on its own a lovely thing. But an earlier phase of the Convention Centre, designed by Canadian great Eberhard Zeidler, was designed to be light, airy, and to create a dramatic profile reminiscent of sails. How does a green roof compare?

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Oddball green roofs are also beginning to show up in oddball locations, like this one that looks like a putting green on the top deck of a cruise ship. It got special recognition this year at the Green Roof Awards for Excellence, which started its explantion with: Most people find the idea of a garden or lawn on a 15-storey building quite unusual. Now imagine a grassy playing field, 15-storeys up on the deck of an ocean-going cruise-ship.

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Lisa Rapoport had an equally difficult challenge with the roof of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; here were the fanciest tables in the high end restaurant on in the Daniel Liebskind addition, overlooking an ugly black tar roof with barely any structural capacity to hold the roof. She designed a complex and elegant sliver of a green roof that weighs barely three pounds per square foot, but will definitely improve the view.

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Scott Torrance has even designed what might be called a temporary green roof; the tenant wanted one, but the landlord wanted to be sure it would or could go away. So it is all in planters and trays, sitting on top of the existing roof.

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It didn't take long before green roofs started seriously influencing the architecture itself. Renzo Piano's museum, located in the middle of a park, is covered with glorious hills of green roof that are among its most dramatic features. The green roof defines the building; No architect would have designed it that way if it was asphalt or EPDM. More at Jaymi's tour: A Trip to the California Academy of Sciences (Slideshow)

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When one of the Giants of Architecture, Kenzo Tange, designs your university and puts in a 200 acre park as the "green lungs" of the campus, what do you do? The designer,Hoong Be Lok of CPG decided to make a "non-building building" that would allow it build on the central green space "without taking away from it." It is a lovely green roof, but nobody can call it a "non-building building", it is as real as any other building on campus unless you work for Google Maps. Would Kenzo Tange have approved? Or are green roofs being used to put a new green sheen on projects that might otherwise have been more problematic to get approved? More: With Green Roof, Nanyang University School of Art Tries to Disappear

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Green roofs were originally thought of as a technology that reduces heat island effect, helped manage stormwater and improved air quality. Perhaps to everyone's surprise, they have turned into planning tools to help put buildings where no building has gone before, are radically changing the architectural form of buildings, the way architects present buildings (see the rash of aerial perspectives-who ever showed rooftops before?) and the respective roles of architects and landscape architects. Like this 2009 award winner, a guest house and garage 200 yards away from the Pacific ocean, they can help produce great architecture and they can help hide bad or inappropriately sited architecture. Let's just be vigilant to ensure that they are not misused and brought into disrepute by using them as excuses to put buildings in places they shouldn't be, just because they are green. More: Are Green Roofs the New Mirrored Glass?

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August 28, 2009 - Posted by | Business, Business Model, Clean Energy, Community Economic Development (CED), Construction, Creativity, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, LEED, Products, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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