Greenroof Landscaping. Image Source: iLandscape
Concrete jungles are receiving green bursts of life as green roofs transform the birds eye view of buildings around the world.
While rooftop gardens can feature plants in plant boxes and small landscaped areas, green roofs have the vegetation planted into their surface. They are also divided into two products, extensive or intensive, with the intensive green roof being able to achieve greater soil depth to accommodate large plantings like trees.
Along with the aesthetic and social benefits of increasing recreational space for staff in offices or residents in apartment complexes, green roofs also alleviate building heat, add cooling, reduce storm-water run off, reduce internal noise levels and filter pollution out of the atmosphere, improving air quality.
With global warming setting in, the green roof trend is designed to combat the urban heat island effect (UHIE), “a phenomenon that causes significantly higher temperatures in cities compared to rural areas.”
Last year, it was reported that in Melbourne, the UHIE had been determined at a mean of two to four degrees and as high as seven degrees depending on the time of year and location.
Here are five of the top green spaces across Australia supporting healthy urban living:
Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide
Adelaide Zoo owns the majority of the green roofs in the Adelaide region and has green roofs designed to attract and protect native wildlife and plant life across the city.
Along with two green walls, the development includes three green roofs, two are located within the panda exhibition development spread out over 24 and 25 square metres and the third, coming in at 456 square metres, located on level one near the entrance.
Adelaide Zoo’s green spaces blur the boundary between the zoo and the nearby Botanical Park, providing an “opportunity to showcase native plants, to create habitat and generate biodiversity.”
Plants chosen for the green roofs are indigenous to the Adelaide Plains, including large trees, positioning the zoo as both a horticultural and zoological park.
“We know that we have many bird species; we have many reptile species, lots of insects and invertebrates and we are getting bats,” said zoo curator of horticulture Jeff Lugg.
Brisbane Airport Motorway, Brisbane
While Brisbane has a series of green roofs across the city, the city has been a little slower in adopting green roofs but have installed one of the world’s longest green walls, at 500 metres.
Green plants cover a concrete mass lining the new motorway linking Brisbane’s CBD to the northern suburbs and the Brisbane Airport precinct.
Landscape architect Arno King of Deicke Richards is the horticultural consultant collaborating with the project’s team.
“Because the requirement was for a lifespan of forty years, we eventually had panels and baskets made in China from fibre reinforced plastic (FRP), a resin fibreglass used for flooring,” he said. “FRP is UV stabilised, and developed to withstand heavy loads, moisture, chemicals and acids secreted by plants.”
The low-maintenance living wall only needs to be tended to once a year and includes local plants that are known to thrive in Brisbane’s environment.
Museum of Old & New Art (MONA), Hobart
MONA has a new museum building with a 1,400-metre square flat green roof spread over five individual roofs. The $75 million landmark building is located along the banks of the Derwent River and the green roof was designed as a sculptural terrace to showcase work and be a communal green space.
Flytogreen was enlisted to create the green roofs and used a sub-surface irrigation system and 10 millimetre blue stone mulch layer and sedum-based plant palette to create the green space.
Victorian Desalination Plant, Victoria
The impressive 26,000 square metres of vegetation at Victoria’s Desalination Plant is currently the largest in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.
Located on the ecological coast of Southern Gippsland, the green roof blends in with the surrounding native parkland. Along with providing dramatic visual impact, it also provides insulation, stores and cleans rainwater and provides a host of other environmental benefits. As the coast is in a rainfall-dependent area, the green roof could supply up to 150 billion litres of water a year.
Home to native animals, 98,000 indigenous plants that can be found locally have been installed successfully integrating living landscape and architecture.
“(The green roofs) successfully provide a solution to many of the performance requirements for the roofs,” said Aspect Studios, who were part of the development team of the project.
M Central Apartment Building, Sydney
M Central is a heritage building that was redeveloped for residential living and incorporates a 2,600 square metre roof garden.
Designed as a communal garden and entertainment/social hub for the building’s 400 residents, the roof features native grasses, mature species, water features, timber boardwalks and sculptures.
“There’s no question about the environmental benefits of green roofs but the social benefits are not yet fully explored. Up on the roof everyone is equal,” M Central landscape architect Daniel Baffsky said.