How can you create spacious and appealing outdoor living space in urban areas, especially as land is at a premium in most towns and cities?
The answer could well be ‘above you’, as increasing numbers of architects, facility managers, building firms and property owners are going sky high with their gardens. Roof gardens are on the rise. Not least as the equipment and materials to create outdoor space on the top of buildings is now readily available. At one time, residential buildings or hospitality businesses with a roof top garden enjoyed a competitive edge; but now everyone is getting in on this beneficial development. Some of the best known versions are incredible diverse and expensive, such as the 50 000 plants that thrive on the 14-story ACROS building in Japan, with its forests and waterfalls. Or, the highly private Rockefeller Center Roof Gardens in New York, which used 3000 tons of earth and 2000 trees and shrubs during its two year construction. Fortunately, it’s now possible to complete a roof garden layout far more cost effectively and quickly.
Apart from the social benefits of roof gardens, a well laid out version can add value to properties. One study by London property agents Marsh and Parson's showed that a balcony or roof garden adds around 10-25% value, in more affluent areas [https://www.marshandparsons.co.uk/blog]. This architecture is also energy efficient and can prolong the life of structures. The starting point is to lay a suitable membrane over your roof, something that can serve the double purpose of protecting it. Having a roof top garden helps manage the thermal properties of your building too. Use of rainfall for your green roof also reduces runoff on the structure.
Having space on the top of the building to enjoy outdoor living can bring health benefits for occupants. Not least as it encourages them to enjoy fresh air and sit awhile to destress. Providing a calming and quiet space for your workforce – or hospitality guests – is an important part of a caring and inclusive culture
For some city centre buildings, roof gardens are a great way to enable residents, guests or staff to soak up views of a glorious urban landscape.
Planning rooftop gardens needs care; selecting suitable plants, installing structures that are weatherproof for this level of exposure and finding roof garden furniture that makes the most of often limited space
Many modular design, outdoor seating, planters and tables have the ability to be left free-standing allowing the layout to be changed onsite as well as removing the need to bolt down into and potentially compromise the waterproof roof membrane. Modern outdoor seating and tables use vertical planes too, to make the most of every square foot of usable roof surface.
To make them even more appealing, roof top gardens can benefit from the same finishing touches as other outdoor living areas, such as cushions and throws made from weather resistant fabrics, and integrated planters to make maintenance easier.
Another reason that roof gardens are going up in their popularity, is that a green roof enables property owners and specifiers to ‘do their bit’ to protect biodiversity, encouraging British birds, butterflies and other creatures to survive in cityscapes.