Think Landfill, Now think Green Roof

waste treatment facility i roig arquitectes

When considering landfill and waste, architectural design is not the first image that springs to mind. Even less so is landscape architecture. It is, however, what one Spanish design firm have achieved, giving an innovative and unique style to what is often considered an afterthought.

Located in Vacarisses, Spain, the waste treatment facility’s update is the tens of millions of dollars brainchild of Battle i Roig architectes. In the idyllic mountainous location, sits the unlikely waste heap, which is increasingly reaching capacity. The landfill heap was originally constrained in a highly inefficient, industrialised building, which was in the mix to be closed.

Instead of its closure though, the architectural firm have used landscape architecture to bring the old building to life, lowering the environmental impacts of such a ‘brown’ space, and offering a stunning and unique aesthetic.

In order to truly rehabilitate the 45,000 sqm space, a focus was taken off the building at large and placed on the rooftops. A seemingly strange place to go, but due to the orientation and location of the facility, any update on this section would have the greatest impact.

Waste Treatment Facility green roof

In place of a highly industrialised steel roof, designers have created a series of circular garden banks, of different sizes and shapes, spanning the rooftop’s entirety. These were then filled with various native plants, crushed gravel and dirt. Further circular holes have been created which add to the overall mod-industrial-organic style mix, while offering a practical space for natural air ventilation and skylights.

The landscaped roof, or green roof has numerous sustainability features, which include added insulation and natural air filtration. In addition to these benefits, a rainwater collection system has been installed which maintains the facility’s water needs.

While the landscaping is the major element in terms of the architectural form, the most exciting and logical green technologies used in the building is the biogas system. This method of energy production involves the extraction of biogas from the rubbish to be used in maintaining the power needs of the building.

Waste Treatment Facility green roof planters

All of these features have culminated to earn the building the title of the 2011 World Production, Energy and Recycling building of the year from the 2011 World Architecture Festival.

In terms of style, what the designers have been able to do is take an unattractive, carbon heavy building and integrate it with its surrounds more organically. The building demonstrates that the very interesting focus change from built form to landscape architecture can bring with it a barrage of additional eco-friendly and style features.

Images Courtesy Francisco Urrutia
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