Designing for animal magnetism

roof-top-avairy-390x260a1The next generation of green roofs will be designed to ensure the survival of specific species providing much needed ecological space in the urban environment. BAM believe the next ecological objective in green roof  design is the creation of biotropes – living habitats for species such as migratory birds.

While not a roof habitat exactly, Neil Oxley came up with the idea of a man made tree for the city of Leeds to support bats, birds, butterflies, insects and even the much maligned urban fox. Kadas’ research into the potential for green roofs to support rare invertebrates  suggests there is greater potential for green roofs to promote urban habitats.

Restoration ecologist and resource planner Paul Kepart of Rana Creek believes in the near future green roofs will be graded according to a biodiversity index. In keeping with these concerns plant ecologist Christine Thuring emphasises the need for green roofs to form a series of  linked habitats or archipelagos.

It still seems some way off before we start to think of ways of providing green habitats – even roof space – for our larger land based fauna currently being displaced and endangered by urban activity.

8 thoughts on “Designing for animal magnetism

  1. Tom Turner

    I very much agree about the desirability of planning green roofs for animals. Most roofs should be vegetated (see ) unless there is a good reason for it not being vegetated eg:

    – it is a historic roof
    – the roof is glazed or used for solar panels

    Green roof links:

    to see how you can do design build specialising in green roofs.




    and of course the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website :

  2. Christine

    Tom I am very much for project specific solutions and for incorporating green roof (and wall) strategies whereever it is sensible to do so. Increasing the depth and bredth of our ‘green’ vocabulary is for me as a designer the most important first step.

    Archial Architect’s green roof on the Small Animal Hospital in Glasgow is friendly to land based creatures. [ ]

    However, I appreciate that at this stage the know how and technology is still very much under development and many projects that are implemented rather than advancing design will advance knowledge and technology – and that is not a bad thing!

    In a report by Linda Velazquez ‘European Airport Greenroofs – A Potential Model for North America’ (2008) she says describes how green roofs are being used in airports across Europe to exclude particular bird species (larger than finches) so as to attempt to reduce bird strikes.

  3. Jorg Breuning

    I certainly agree green roofs can offer an important step stone “function” for plants and animals. Unfortunately not all animals are supported or welcome on our roofs. Where do we draw a line – who selects the good, bad and ugly?

    PVs and green roofs work together better than stand alone – there is just a huge knowledge deficit of both (PV and Green Roofs)in Northern America but not in the rest of the world.

    I also have a small blog where I show standard breeding boxes for insects which can also implemented on green roofs.


  4. Tom Turner

    I see New York as the prototype and archetype of the twentieth century city. But what will future generations discover to have been the equivalent for the twenty-first century? My answer is that so far as we can tell, it is likely to be an intensely vegetated city, perhaps with more resemblance to the overgrown sections of Angkor Wat than anything we have yet seen. This will be the most visible manifestation of ‘green architecture’. We should keep our eyes open for the first indications of what it is going to look like in practice. By 1900, there were good indications of the form of the twentieth century archetype:

  5. Tom Turner

    Thank you, Jorg, for a link to an interesting project. The PV-Green roof is elegant, and a very good thing for its situation, but I would classify it as functional space rather than social space – and nor do I see it as visual space, despite its good looks.

  6. Jorg Breuning

    Thank you, Tom and you are right. 80% of the green roofs in Germany are functional. This is the reason why green roofs are affordable, actually wide spread and finally benefit the environment. Social space, visual space and protected habitats are on the ground where it is also much cheaper and more efficient to do so and where it benefits much more (which is social, too).
    The featured project is next to the airport and very visible from at least 100,000 people every year. It is also a nature bridge for people and animals between the dividing highways. Nature bridges (greened bridges) are important for the migration of all kind of animals including deer -which is a different story.
    I see the desire of landscape architects to implement great designs and new ideas on roofs which were typically unused 10 years ago. This is perfectly right but it is also important not to keep things manageable, affordable and most efficient. Doing things different might cause the reputation of the planner – it doesn’t affect standardized and efficient green roof technology.
    This area has a multi use: Highway, parking, energy production and green space.

    What do you think about the nice green roof with lots of social space at this link?


  7. Tom Turner

    Thank you for the link. The green roof on the Celebrity Solstice is extraordinary. A vacation on a cruise ship would not be a holiday for me but I think they are a wonderful solution for those who like them – so much better than filling the skies with planes and wrecking the world’s coasts with hotels. As for the green roof on the Celebrity Solstice: (1) I hope they have used salt-tolerant grass (2) my suggestion would have been to make a floating garden instead of ‘just’ a floating lawn.
    To clarify another point, I am very much in favour of functional green roofs and made my previous comment only because I see a need for a taxonomic approach to the design and criticism of green roofs – particularly because my employer intends to have green roof on our new school building in Greenwich.


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