A look at 10 greenroof, wall trends from 2016

A look at 10 greenroof, wall trends from 2016

Philadelphia's Cira Green at Cira Centre South. Photo courtesy of Greenroofs.com

As 2016 draws to a close, the year featured some of the best and brightest green roof designs that, according to Greenroofs.com, seemed to strive for a captivating combination of ecosensitivity and chic sustainability.

Here is a look at 10 of top greenroof trends that emerged over the last 12 months:

“Boutique” Greenroofs and Greenwalls – The Veneto Eye Bank Foundation (Fondazione Banca degli Occhi del Veneto Onlus) gave metaphorical life to the blind in Venice-Mestre, Italy. The two extreme points of the trapezoidal 12-meter high walls seem about to touch each other, reminiscent of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. The entry to the eye transplant and stem cell research facility opens to stepped gardens and a greenroof and is surrounded and located over a large greenroof over the parking garage.

In Bogotá, Colombia, the "Seedkeeper" guards culture and biodiversity. The small Terracita Organica (Organic Terrace) embraces urban agriculture in heart of the city and ensures native plant survival. Run in secret and part of an underground movement, the rooftop seed reservoir preserves heritage and provides food security for Colombia: retrieving seeds, recovering knowledge, recovering memory.

PreFab Modular Homes are Fabulous – The “3box” system in Paris adds prefabricated elements on top of and between existing buildings. The low-income housing system does not require the purchase of sites; instead, the right to build is obtained in exchange for renovating existing buildings. Tangier Bay in Morocco is a modular social housing project with adjustable greenroofed habitats. Buildings are equipped with loggias and terraces with several functions: provide beautiful views of the ocean, facilitate natural ventilation and allow natural lighting through.

Earth-sheltering for Sustainable Site Design – The Great Wall of WA in northwest Australia is a serpentine structure encompassing 12 homes sharing a rammed earth façade. Rammed earth extracted from the local clay pans, pebbles and gravel quarried from the riverbed are the palette of materials that blend into the landscape. The Wasit Nature Reserve outside of Sharjah, UAE, is a former waste-water and landfill site transformed into a visitor center. The earth-sheltered site is now home to 350 different bird species, as well as a landing zone for over 30,000 migrating birds.

Gardens in the Clouds: Stacking and Stepping with Vegetation – 489-539 King Street West is a current redevelopment scheme in Toronto and will be a staggered cubic ziggurat with verdant rooftop sky gardens. The 500 stepped apartments on top will cover the lower floors of mixed-use. The Marina One in Singapore is a current multi-use project with luxury condos. Stacking and stepping internally, its inner core forms a 3-D void dripping with vegetation. This “Green heart” is the largest public plaza in the central business district, and the building footprint is penetrated by air wells and slots to ensure natural ventilation.

LID Strategies: Celebrating Water with Greenroofs, Rain Gardens, Stormwater Catchment and Beyond - The highly innovative blue-greenroof Cira Green at Cira Centre South is Philadelphia’s first elevated park, which also aggressively manages stormwater 11 stories up. Placed below the greenroof paving, "Pancake Cisterns” are thin detention cisterns that capture rainfall and release it gradually to the adjacent planted areas via a system of Sutro weirs. The 2.9-acre site of the Center for Sustainable Landscape, part of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, is net zero water and net zero energy. Designed with multiple LIDs, it's the first and only building to meet four of the highest green certifications: Living Building Challenge, world’s most rigorous green building standard; LEED platinum — tied for highest points awarded under version 2.2; first and only Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) for landscapes project (pilot); and the first and only WELL Building Platinum project (pilot).

Innovative Greenwalls: Stretching Design and Our Imagination - The Global Change Institute is the University of Queensland’s landmark zero-carbon, six-star collaborative hub that generates more energy than it consumes. It has paneled greenwalls over the indoor air-conditioning vents designed to draw and expel air through the plants to maximize dust and VOC reduction giving a biological treatment to air in the building as well as providing amenity. Naman Retreat the Babylon in Ngũ Hành Son, Da Nang, Vietnam, boasts a building façade combining concrete louvers with interspersed greenery and the wire-trellised green wall provides a visual barrier to enhance the privacy of the resort. The harmonious mix of greenery, natural stone and bamboo provide a perfect atmosphere that enable the guests a maximum body and mind purification and relaxation.

Educational Facilities as Green Living Laboratories – Completed this year, the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at Community School 55 in the South Bronx is a School Garden to School Cafe Site by the Green Bronx Machine. Headed by educator and administrator Stephen Ritz, a Global Teacher Prize finalist who donated his $25,000 winnings to refurbish an area of the 100-plus-year-old reclaimed school, it is NYC’s 1st elementary-workforce development school and training for residents. Facilities include indoor and outdoor gardens, robotics, a 100% mobile classroom kitchen with broadcast capabilities, solar and pedal power stations and computer lab. In Barcelona, Spain, a series of vertical edible gardens designed and implemented by landscape artist Marc Grañén informs and creates an urban network of biological info vital for understanding natural biological rhythms of the city. He received support from the environmental department of the Barcelona City Council and School Agenda 21, with the collaboration of Obra Social La Caixa.

España: A Progressive Líder in Green Design –The new Joan Maragall Library in Barcelona preserves open space and gardens by moving them up to the roof, creating a new social hub. The architects decided to create a terrace and place the library program underneath, while the greenroofs now constitute the new garden known as the “Garden of Light.” La Calahorra Green Wall in Elche addresses the challenge of combining a coffee shop within a vertical garden with the complexity of a structure attached to a historic building, built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The addition of the robust living wall created a destination and new landmark with more than 3,000 plants and 15 species of five different families, mostly endemic to the Mediterranean region.

Sky Farms on the (High)Rise- The Farming Kindergarten Dongnai in Vietnam has a continuous looped greenroof used as both a large, safe playground and as an agricultural area for the adjacent shoe factory workers’ children. It grows five types of vegetables planted in an experimental 200-square-meter roof garden for agriculture education and also serves as a prototype of a sustainable, low-budget education space in a tropical climate.

Skyscraping Sky Gardens on Roofs, Walls and Skybridges – The Mile is a conceptual design for the world’s highest vertical park and public observation deck at one mile (1,609 meters) offering a natural ecosystem, eventually covered with plants and greenery and inhabited by hundreds of animal species. The architect says, "Imagine you take New York’s Central Park, turn it vertical, roll it and twirl it."

Adding to the transformation of New York City's skyline is The Spiral, a 65-story office tower fully wrapped in a cascading ribbon of lushly planted terraces, hanging gardens and soaring atria. Its architect states, "The Spiral will punctuate the northern end of the High Line, and the linear park will appear to carry through into the tower, forming an ascending ribbon of lively green spaces, extending the High Line to the skyline." And finally, Forest City in Iskandar, Malaysia, to be completed by 2036, is a $40.9 billion master plan to be new global cluster of commerce and culture. Set to be Southeast Asia’s largest mixed-use green development and the world’s largest greenroof system, it will consist of a rooftop network of interconnected parks and gardens.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Great Commercial Buildings, Green Roofs / Garden Roofs, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, Highrise Residential, Mixed Use Communities/Developments & Buildings, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Roofing, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, Wall Systems / Curtain Walls


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