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. 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.
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 Café. 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

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  1. […] The Southbank Centre is a charity (constituted as a company limited by guarantee). Members of the Board of Trustees are unpaid but the managers are paid and undertake commercial activities, including managing the public open space and two public roof gardens (on the National Theatre on the Queen Elizabeth Hall) […]

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