The Living Roof

Having spent a few weeks in Bern Switzerland, I was intrigued by the roof top gardens on some of the houses in their downtown district. The plantings were actually integrated into the roof structure, with grasses covering entire roof lines.

These rooftop gardens are nothing new to California. Henry Kaiser, as early as the 1960’s added a rooftop garden to the parking structure attached to his rise. The idea being so that he would look at the park rather than a parking garage. William McDonough also introduced a planted rolling roof line at The Gap corporate offices in San Bruno, CA that mimicked the grass hills nearby. Renzo Piano’s recent Academy of Sciences building also includes a rather large planted roof, that provides a green cover allowing for his vision of simply “lifting the park and sliding a museum under it”. G-Sky, a Canadian based company introduced a series of planted wall systems that allow for efficient and easier to care for living walls.

Roof Gardens allow for integration of small shrubs, grasses and succulents, allowing for the creation of natural environments on a built roof. These roof gardens and planted walls help mitigate heat zones, add to natural oxygen production, and can help to keep buildings cooler in the summer months.

These new systems are also a bit more self-contained and automated than the early iterations allowing for easier maintenance and care.


Photos: courtesy of G-Sky & Margarido Group.

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