In increasingly denser urban environments, there is a new-found interest in underused spaces as opportunities for further development. Representing up to 25% of cities' land area, rooftops are among the most exciting spatial resources. From sustainable infrastructure and urban farming to social spaces and cultural venues, the article looks into the potential of creating a multi-layered city through the activation of urban rooftops.
Green Roof: The Latest Architecture and News
Inspired by vernacular architecture, Kathryn Larsen is a bio-based designer working with seaweed. Throughout her career, she has been doing an intensive investigation into eel-grass, a material that has been used for centuries around the world. Larsen wants to apply all the benefits of this material (rot resistance, fire resistance, non-toxic, insulation characteristics comparable to mineral wool, and its ability to create carbon negative buildings) into prefabrication development and other technologies that enable the creation of new cladding and other elements, such as insulation batt and acoustic panels.
During the latest Design Indaba Festival, we had the chance to interview Kathryn. Read the interview and learn more about her work below.
Indoor gardens can contribute important benefits to home living, ranging from aesthetic beauty to improved health and productivity. Research has shown that indoor plants help eliminate indoor air pollutants called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that emanate from adhesives, furnishings, clothing, and solvents, and are known to cause illnesses. They also increase subjective perceptions of concentration and satisfaction, as well as objective measures of productivity. Indoor gardens may even reduce energy use and costs because of the reduced need for air circulation. These benefits complement the obvious aesthetic advantages of a well-designed garden, making the indoor garden an attractive residential feature on several fronts.
Air-conditioning isn’t just expensive; it’s also terrible for the environment. Accounting for 10% of global energy consumption today, space cooling in 2016 alone was responsible for 1045 metric tons of CO2 emissions. This number is only expected to increase, with the International Energy Agency estimating that cooling will reach 37% of the world’s total energy demand by 2050.
During the modern period, the buildings that used the traditional sloping roofs with tiles, draining the waters as quickly as possible, have begun to give way to the well-known 'waterproof flat roofs.' In spite of delivering a clean aesthetic to the project, allowing the use of the last slab as a space for living and contemplation, this solution can become a headache for its occupants if its execution and design are not careful. It is no accident that there have been infiltrations in famous modern buildings, such as the Vile Savoye or the Farnsworth House, designed by great masters of architecture. Currently, the civil construction industry has developed more sophisticated products and techniques that drastically reduce the chances of subsequent infiltration. However, we could say that waterproof flat slabs continue to be fragile points in buildings. The architects from Brasil Arquitetura have improved an inventive and very simple solution to avoid infiltrations in flat slabs, much used in the 70's by architects like Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Ruy Ohtake, filling them with vegetation.
MVRDV has broken ground on a wholesale market for fruit and vegetables in Tainan, Taiwan. Defined by a terraced, accessible green roof, the open-air market will serve as both an important hub in Taiwan’s supply chain, and a destination for meeting, socializing, and taking in views of the surrounding landscape.
Named the “Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market,” the MVRDV scheme transforms an often-prosaic aspect of the food industry into a public experience of food and nature. Located in a strategic position between the city and mountains, with good public transport links, the scheme sits at a convenient node for traders, buyers, and visitors.
In Le Corbusier's 5 points of architecture, he advocates the inclusion of flat roofs hosting roof gardens, providing valuable outdoor space for the inhabitants of the building in order to replace the ground lost to the construction of the building. But while this acknowledgement of outdoor space was important for people, Le Corbusier's sculptural concrete roof gardens were little consolation to the non-human flora and fauna that were displaced by his works.
Recent improvements in our understanding of ecosystems and the environment, as well as a better scientific understanding of the needs of plants, have changed this dramatically. In the past few decades, green roofs and living roofs have exploded in popularity, and now adorn every kind of building--from small private houses to the gigantic surface of Barclay's Center in Brooklyn.
We've collected together some excellent examples of these living roofs, including the structural detailing that makes them possible. Read on for 17 spectacular green roofs that achieve environmental benefits including reduced stormwater runoff, and reductions in energy use and the heat island effect.
Facebook is moving into new offices in London’s King’s Cross. The announcement from King’s Cross details the social media giant’s commitment to take over 600,000 square feet (55,000 square meters) of office space across three buildings, namely 11 and 21 Canal Reach by Bennetts Associates, and P2 by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.
The July 23rd deal between Facebook and King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) represents one of the most significant such commitments in London in the last decade, encompassing around 15% of King’s Cross’ 4-million-square-foot (370,000 square meters) commercial portfolio.
Acting both as a “visionary landmark and an urban catalyst,” C.F. Møller Architects’ proposal for a new train station development in Altona, Hamburg, emphasizes the significance of green space within the city’s urban fabric. The project will have several uses, ranging from cafes, restaurants, and shops to offices and fitness centers. Its unique undulating roof landscape “embodies a collective and progressive vision of reinforcing Hamburg’s green credentials.”
Foster + Partners has released details of their proposed comprehensive refurbishment of the Plaza Colón building in Madrid. Located at a historically significant site in Madrid, the scheme will see the transformation and revitalization of the existing structure to “create a new iconic landmark.”
Located at the junction of Madrid’s main north-south and east-west arteries, the building occupies one of the most important intersections in Madrid and forms a key part of the city’s long-term urban vision. The building also faces the bustling Plaza de Colón, one of the largest public spaces in Madrid, while linking three distinct districts containing luxury shopping, finance, art, and historic tradition.
WOHA has released an update of their first office skyscraper for China, as their Vanke Yun City scheme tops out in Shenzhen. Manifesting as three tower blocks attached to a central T-shaped core, the scheme seeks to present “an alternative office tower typology that responds to the sub-tropical climate in Shenzhen.”
Set against the backdrop of ubiquitous post-modernist skyscrapers, the 1.6 million-square-foot (150,000 square-meter) scheme aims to “radically transform the soulless skyscraper into a highly liveable, humane, and sustainable micro-vertical city.”
3XN and GERNER GERNER PLUS have released details of their competition entry for the design of a new aquarium in Schönbrunn Zoo, Vienna. Developed in collaboration with aquarium specialists ATT, “Poseidon’s Realm” was designed to be “elegant, simple and mysterious, lying across the landscape like a great veil.” The scheme was awarded second place in an international competition for the aquarium’s design, with the winner yet to be announced.
The “Poseidon’s Realm” scheme is defined by a spacious green roof landscape embedded in the zoo’s path network. The aquarium covers a total area of 65,000 square feet (6,000 square meters), divided across four levels, with a large, glazed, wave-shaped entrance enticing visitors to transition between outdoor greenery and a “softly undulating waterworld.”
Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop has released images of the proposed Taoyuan Museum of Art in Taiwan, having won an international competition for the scheme’s design in 2018. Acting as a symbolic gateway to the heart of the city, the architect’s vision was for a hub where every visit leads to new discoveries and experiences.
Named “The Hill,” the competition-winning scheme is defined by a sloping green roof, hosting artwork, pavilions, trees, and an outdoor theater. Beneath the roof, a structure named “The Cube” contains permanent exhibitions and collections, and establishes a link between the museum and Blue Pond Park beyond.
Perkins+Will is creating a whole new world 62 miles northwest of Shanghai for the Suzhou Science & Technology Museum. Inspired by shan sui, the Chinese phrase for "mountain-water,” the complex lies at the foot of Lion Mountain and adjacent to Shishan Lake. The 600,000 square foot museum will be the focal point of a new cultural neighborhood in Shishan Park.
Soon the people of Stavanger, Norway will get to see the LERVIG beer brewing process at the new 11,000 square meter visitor center and brewery designed by Danish architects COBE. An iconic focal point on what was once an industrial pier, the building will offer many new amenities to central Stavanger. The brewery will be encircled by public spaces such as a harbour bath and Norway’s first west-coast ‘street-food’ market, complete with a green roof above. From these periphery spaces, guests will be able to view the brew tanks and fermentation process happening in the heart of the building.
The Sunshine Coast of Australia’s Yaroomba Beach is about to get a $900 million upgrade. The integrated, mixed-use development will be the first 5-star resort developed on the Sunshine Coast in 30 years. HASSELL has been awarded the work as master planners, architects, and landscape architects for the massive project, focusing on sustainable and ecological goals to ‘touch the ground lightly.'