Green Roof Typologies

Jorn Utzon called green roofs  ‘the fifth façade’ and there are many ways in which the public can interact with the new  landscapes evolving on roofs in our cities. Green roofs can be public space, private space or ecological space.


Fly-over roof (photo courtesy Eyesplash Photography)

The Vancouver Convention Centre is a great example of a green roof that is best viewed from on high, to appreciate the relationship between the man made and the natural landscape. The promotional images for this fantastic new building suggest that Vancouver has understood much of what has been achieved with this building But the full potential of the roofs as integral parts of cites  has yet to be  fully realised.


Walk-on roof (photo courtesy cityofsound)

Synthe Roof garden in Los Angeles is a laser cut roof surface that has been sculpted for landscape opportunities and for foot traffic on the surface. The garden is in the care of a popular restaurant in the building below. From this vantage point a different perspective on the city of Los Angeles is possible, as is the potential for more interesting forms of roofscape use and greening. This roof design suggests that new forms of roof + garden will be discovered through the green roof concept.

5 thoughts on “Green Roof Typologies

  1. Tom Turner

    ‘Fifth Facade’ is an attractive term but has the partial implication that the design of the roof should relate to the design of the building. As you suggest, it would be a better thing if it related to the context of the roof, visually, ecologically and socially.

  2. Christine

    Following from your advice to refer to Christopher Alexander – in ‘The Timeless Way of Building’ he advises “Try to discover some property which is common to all the ones that feel good and missing from the ones which don’t feel good.”

  3. Linda Day Harrison

    If anyone knows the designer or plant supplier or owner or landscape maintenance contractor for these roof garden projects, please suggest they add the projects to the database. We are adding 1 roof garden at a time to create the most extensive inventory of roof gardens or green walls. The database includes many data fields, but even if they just add the roof location, name and whether or not it is public, private or can be accessible for viewing would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S. we have a nice start on our Resource page where plants suppliers, green roof manufactures can list their links as well.

  4. RobAid

    Green roofs are great! They increase the insulation, lower the heat island effect and create habitat or social/relaxing areas.

    There have been some bad executions of the idea though (both aesthetically and structurally).


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