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
A New Layer of Public Space: The Case for Activating Urban Rooftops
Stefano Boeri Architetti Reveals Design for the International Forest Stadium in Milan, Italy
Stefano Boeri Architetti, together with a multidisciplinary team including ARUP, Fabio Novembre, and Balich Wonder Studio, has unveiled the design for the new Milan Stadium, named the International Forest Stadium. The project, located in the San Siro area of the city, was presented to the public on the occasion of the competition announced in 2019 by the Inter and Milan teams. The stadium is envisioned as an integral part of the “Sport and leisure district” system, an extensive masterplan measuring over 800 hectares, planned to transform the San Siro district into a center for excellence in the context of European sports.
Büro Ole Scheeren Wins Competition to Design a Winemakers Campus and Tourism Complex in Yibin, China
Büro Ole Scheeren has designed a new campus and experience center located in the historical city of Yibin, a region known for its rich cultural heritage and the geographical source of the Yangtze River. The campus was commissioned by Wuliangye, one of China’s leading winemakers. The project represents a large development inspired by the shape of a natural canyon, with two dynamic parallel structures defining a central space. On either side of this structure, called the Wuliang Interstice, are the Wuliangye World and the Wine Culture Exhibition Center respectively. Wuliangye World is an experience center where visitors can engage with the tradition of winemaking, while the exhibition center tells the story of wine culture through a series of themed exhibition halls.
New Residential Complex in Amsterdam Creates Room for Wildlife
The new apartment complex designed by Venhoeven CS and DS Landschapsarchitecten is characterized by the intention to stimulate biodiversity. Located on a four-acre plot in the Sluisbuurt on the Zeeburgereiland in Amsterdam, the complex will include 82 homes, a parking garage, and spaces for shops and businesses. The nature-inclusive project pays special attention to the design of green roofs, terraces, and facades to create micro-environments for local flora and fauna and to optimize energy consumption.
A Green Undulating Roof Covers Sou Fujimoto’s Resort Project on Ishigaki Island, Japan
Sou Fujimoto has unveiled a “Not a Hotel Ishigaki”, a new project in the southwest of Ishigaki Island in Okinawa, Japan. The unique tropical resort hotel sits on a circular base open in all directions toward the surrounding natural landscape. The main feature of the building is the undulating roof covered in vegetation. Its shape allows access from the building terraces, creating an inner landscape, complete with meadows, relaxation areas, and a water mirror that reflects the sky and the singular tree in its vicinity.
Palm and Straw Roofs: Examples in Mexico That Explore Their Possibilities
Architecture in Mexico has a vast history that is made up of various aspects that touch astrological, political, spiritual and economic issues. Although today there are only ruins of some of the most important pre-Hispanic complexes, thanks to the in-depth research that has been carried out, we can have some representations of what those buildings that laid the foundations of what makes us today were like. In these representations, it is possible to notice the presence of natural materials that were a response to their environment such as basalt stone, stucco and some vegetable paintings whose remains persist to this day.
Can Green Roofs Make Our Cities Better?
Researchers credit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as the first examples of green roofs. Although there is no proof of its exact location and very little literature on the structure, the most accepted theory is that King Nebuchadnezzar II built a series of elevated, ascending terraces with varied species as a gift to his wife, who missed the forests and mountains of Persia, their local land. According to Wolf Schneider  the gardens were supported by brick vaults, and under them, there were shaded halls cooled by artificial irrigation of the gardens, with a much milder temperature than the outside, in the plains of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Since then, examples of green roofs have appeared all over the world, from Rome to Scandinavia, in the most diverse climates and types.
Nevertheless, inserting plants on roofs is still viewed with suspicion by many, as they are thought to be costly and difficult to maintain. Others, however, argue that the high implementation costs are quickly offset with savings in air conditioning and especially that occupying the building's fifth façade with vegetation is, above all, a rational solution. In any case, the question remains as to how green roofs can really help with climate change.
MVRDV Reveals Design for Terraced Office Building in Shanghai
MVRDV has unveiled the design of a terraced office building created for the agriculture company Lankuaikei. Set within a rapidly developing area of Shanghai, the 11-storey structure covered by a curved technological roof that follows the stepping structure is conceived as an agricultural oasis that showcases the company's vision of food production. With an extensive sustainability agenda, the project encompasses various strategies, from the extensive use of greenery, renewable energy to low-carbon materials, addressed both with high tech and low tech solutions.
Seaweed as Cladding: Combining Old Traditions With New Tech
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.
How to Incorporate Gardens in Home Design
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.
What Materials Keep Buildings Cool?
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.
Roof Waterproofing with Water: A Solution by ‘Brasil Arquitetura’
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.
Construction of MVRDV's Landscaped Food Market Begins in Taiwan
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.
18 Spectacular Living Roofs in Detail
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 Set to Occupy London Offices in King's Cross by AHMM and Bennetts Associates
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.
C.F. Møller's Green-Centric Proposal Wins Competition for New Train Station in Hamburg
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.”