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12 Awesome Urban Garden Rooftops

14 February 2011 No Comment

As more buildings sprout the landscape of cities and towns, green space becomes a valuable commodity. Gardens and green space are important in keeping the city looking beautiful as well as the effects plants and trees have on the changing environment.

To incorporate more garden and green space in to cityscapes many are creating urban roof gardens / designs to make best use of the space on a roof, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the building. These green roofs improve the aesthetics making them look visually stunning for both residents and users. Here’s a collection of inspiring landscape designs using roof space as a canvas.

1. Namba Parks, Japan

With Japan’s dense population and cities filled with towering buildings it is no wonder that they have put more thought into adding green space to their cityscapes.


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One of Japan’s most stunning urban roofing designs is at Namba Parks, which is a shopping mall and office compound situated in busy Osaka, Japan. However when you first spot Namba Parks you don’t immediately think office or retail park as it has an intricate network of 8 garden roves on different levels complete with waterfalls.

The Jerde Partnership were the designers responsible for Namba Parks and the innovative development incorporating stunning tress and gardens into a shopping and working space. The urban gardens are staggered on 8 different levels and include landscaping with canyons and cliffs, streams, waterfalls and ponds. The amount of green contributes to lowering carbon emissions and has lowered the carbon consumption of the building. The 2003 mall is so environmentally friendly and sustainable that there is space to grow your own vegetables and crops.


2. Chicago City Hall

A groundbreaking urban roof project producing a visually stunning roof garden with the green roof reportedly saves $5,000 a year on utility bills!

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The project was launched as a study to improve air quality and combat the urban heat island effect. Championed by Mayor Richard M. Daley the City of Chicago began building the 38,800 square foot roof in April 2000, which is estimated to have cost $2.5 million.

Chicago won a legal battle with a previous electric company and the settlement of $1.1 billion went towards the regeneration of the building and paid for the award winning urban roof project. The city is working towards becoming the ‘greenest city’ in the United States and city hall roof project has certainly helped them come closer to achieving this goal.


3. ACROS Fukuoka, in Fukuoka City, Japan.

The ACROS Fukuoka boasts as having the best view from an office window and with 35,000 plants with 76 different species this is a stunning urban garden.


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With very little green space in Japan the need for more is evident and on the last remaining green space in Fukora City they decided to expand upon this plant area by merging the park into a building using the roof as a garden.

On the one side the ACROS Fukuoka building looks very much like your typical city office with glass walls and stories of meeting rooms and conference rooms as well as studios and individual offices. On the other side however, there is a stunning terraced roof that slopes down and merges with the last green park in the city.

The building also has a huge semicircular atrium and triangular lobby, which hold offices and shops and even a symphony hall. This combination of contemporary architecture with extensive landscaping makes a stunning contrast that has made this building one of the best examples of urban landscaping.

The ACROS Fukuoka building was thought up by architects Emilio Ambasz & Associates and the brief was to preserve as much green space as possible. By incorporating the green space it actually lowers the carbon footprint as it reduces the energy consumption of the building and regulates the temperature.


4. Nanyang Technology University in Singapore

A stunning green roof that curves round and connects with the surrounding park area.


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Many colleges and schools are very forward thinking when it comes to being environmentally aware and one such example is the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore. The School of Art and Design stands out from all of the other buildings on campus as it has two curving green roofs that create open space above the building.

By planting grasses on the sloping roofs this adds insulation to the building and which helps moderate the temperature keeping the air cool and even collecting rainwater for irrigation. The open space acts as a space for students to relax, and share ideas however the aesthetic and environmental benefits outweigh the social benefits of this urban roof design.


5. Seoul Urban Environment, South Korean Office, South Korea

The Seoul urban environment in South Korea has focused on cutting edge urban architecture incorporating sustainability and style.

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This South Korean Office building stands out in the Seoul urban environment amongst other towering blocks and buildings as from the ground you can see the glimpses of its amazing urban garden peeping out from the top of roof.

HAHN Design / Hahn Joh are the architects responsible for this innovative garden roof design. You can also see the 3D impression of a house with a garden where part of the house seamlessly integrates into the garden.


6. Jungle style house Malaysia

Welcome to the Jungle – in your own street! In Malaysia a jungle style house has been designed to fit in with the plantation surroundings.




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TWS and Partners not only designed and landscaped the roof garden but also incorporated the Jungle look throughout the interiors. The green plants look stunning against the scenery and the white walls that are used throughout the house.

The designers wanted the house to look urban and contemporary but still feature plants and the jungle look. By keeping the house modern and fresh it is a great urban look that also reduces the carbon footprint of the building and helps contribute to lowering climate change.


7. Mary Catherine Bunting Center, Baltimore, United States

Proving that roof gardens and green space are good for your health as well as the environment.

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The Mary Catherine Bnting Center in Baltimore has covered half of the roofs space with a garden area that patients can enjoy. Situated in a very urban part of Baltimore without this use of garden space on the roof the hospital would otherwise only have scenes of grey buildings.

The hospital was designed by architects Mahan Rykiel Associates and the use of an urban garden provides a lovely place for patients, staff and families to enjoy as well as lowering carbon emissions by keeping the amount of energy used to heat and cool the hospital down.

Experts have also said that having a garden view can help patient recovery and the roof garden at the Mary Catherine Bunting Center plays a big part in healing for the patients who stay there.


8. Contemporary Roof Garden Design, London

Amir Schlezinger was the designer that worked on this urban roof in London.


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Amir Schlezinger believed that a detached house with garden and roof terrace was breathtaking, especially in a built up area. This concept was the beginning of the landscaped roof garden combining tall trees and plant boxes with a hardwood space for entertaining or relaxing. The benches area repeated in a pattern to form a fireplace in the space and even brings in a dining space so you can eat outside in what feels like an exotic yet modern area. Stripes have been painted onto the floor, which draws the eye towards a waterfall.


9. Seattle City Hall, Seattle, USA

Big changes always come from upper management levels.


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When trying to support new trends, local authorities can always set a standard. This can also apply to green roofs and fortunately it is already happening in the United States. Seattle is the home for such a beautiful example and the privileged case is Seattle’s very own city hall.

Part of a three-block area known as the Seattle Civic Center, the building’s roof is the result of an intense collaboration between the City of Seattle, and landscape architects from Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. and Swift & Company. They managed to create a green roof based on a multi-layered waterproof membrane and a 6” deep engineered soil support. The vegetation mix contains 60 percent grasses and 40 sedums and the look of the roof manages to change once with every season.


10. Nine Houses, Dietikon, Switzerland

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Switzerland is famous for its green impeccable landscape and for its lovely inhabitants that like to keep their country clean and flawless. This residential complex designed by the architect Peter Vetsch was based on the idea of integrating a building in the surrounding environment as much as possible.

These modern houses surround a lovely pond and although they might seem as a version of contemporary hobbit houses, they are in fact equipped with all the facilities needed for a modern life. The roof design of this building includes concrete domes, recycled glass foam and 40 to 80 cm of landfill. Residents can use the roofs however they like; although most of them keep lovely gardens on top of their homes, there are some that like to keep it as a sitting area, so that they admire the breathtaking view over the nearby valley.


Future designs:

With all of the benefits of urban roofing it is no wonder that there are many projects under development.

11. Clinton Park, New York

New York city is crying out for more green space.

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One ground breaking, or ground-laying development is that of New York city’s new development called Clinton Park. New York Architects, Ten Arquitectos, have designed the new building that will introduce more jungle into the concrete jungle of New York.

The brief was to design a space that would work in the current cityscape but would add more green space into an environmentally and aesthetically pleasing design on the west side of the city.

Ten Arquitectos use an unusual stepped approach that curves round into an ‘s’ shape, this was influenced by arable farming and crop rotation, by integrating this the landscape design offers a space that is stunning but functional for growing produce or farming.

The proposed building is to be a mixed-use development that will also be the home of Gordon Ramsay’s New York ‘Hell’s Kitchen’.


12. Kyoai Gukuen University in Japan

Other universities are recognising the potential of having green space on campus.


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Architects from Japanese firm Bokoko have designed a modern structure for the university with a unique sloping roof that allows space for a stunning landscape design for students to rest, study or socialise on. Next to the building is a sports field but with no spectator seating, the idea is for the roof to be sloped towards the sports field allowing spectators to sit comfortably on the slopes to watch games.

As with many of the other urban roofing projects the benefits for this include having an improved system to moderate temperature keeping the building warm in the cold and cooler on hotter days.


The future of urban roof projects…

The success of all of these urban roof projects shows that architecture can be more ‘green’ and in the future we will see more and more buildings include gardens on the roof.

Not only is this a step forward for the environment and lowering carbon emissions through managing temperature and harvesting rainwater for usage but also visually these urban gardens are so impressive and stunning they add a real benefit to cities.

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