Public access to green roofs and roof gardens

Cities are becoming denser and busier and higher and more polluted. This tends to make ground level space less attractive, because it is becoming noisier, windier, more shady and more polluted. But it also makes rooftop space more attractive, because it is quieter, sunnier and less polluted. So there is a good case for providing new public open space in the form of roof gardens and green roofs. It will be interesting to see how the green roofs cope with adverse weather in the coming months. My suspicion is there will be a few frantic visits to websites like once the hailstorms start to make their presence known.

The rooftop gardens are usually built after restoration and redesign of the commercial rooftop, in consultation with experts like the ones at Precision Roof Crafters (you could visit them here). These rooftop gardens provide shelter for wildlife such as birds and depending on the space can be used to raise honeybees as well. Designers of public buildings, like libraries and theatres, should regard a publicly accessible roof garden as the norm. Owners of private and corporate buildings may agree to public access as a ‘sweetener’ to persuade authorities to let them build higher. Homeowners and residential building owners may want to consult with a roofing company like 99Roofers to see if it’s possible to convert part of their existing roof into a garden.

As with all landscape architecture projects, very careful thought should be given to the functional, visual and ecological aspects of roof garden design. Each contributes to character. The above video looks at the character of two green roofs with public access on the South Bank in Central London: the Weston Terrace and Bank of America Merrill Lynch Terrace, also known as the National Theatre Roof Garden, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden CafĂ©. My view is although both are ‘green space’, the former leans towards being ‘white space’ and the later leans towards being ‘red space’.

Tom Turner

Posted in green roofs

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