Sometimes the most surprising green spaces are those that have been quietly there all along. This is so of the roof top garden on the British Empire Building at the Rockerfeller Centre. It is an example of visual space, a pleasure garden brilliantly contextualised with the surrounding architecture. The heavily geometric topiary subtly reflects the enclosing skyline: quite a challenge when the skyline includes St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Kensington Roof Garden formerly Tom and Derry’s in London is another example of a visual space, albeit this time as an enclosed garden. Of more particular note, is the roof garden at Villa Savoy by Le Corbusier, which it can be said is largely responsible for the idea of roof gardens in the modern era. The Kaiser Roof Garden by Henry Kaiser is another example of a modern visual landscape at risk. It is to be hoped that the heritage value of these modern gardens is recognised and that organisations like Landslide which are dedicated to their preservation are supported.
The next generation of visual space designed as sustainable green roof gardens are still being imagined. Hints of what they might look like are out there….This roof by the Australian architects Hassal for the Adelaide Zoo demonstrates a sensitivity to context (in this case a bushland setting) which characterises visual space. The private residential roof garden by Charotte Rowe in Holland Park, although conservative in conception, demonstrates a heightened sense of visual awareness with consideration of light for night and daytime uses.
It would be amazing to a roof garden taking inspiration from sources such as the waterlily garden at the Mauritius Botanic Gardens by John Duffy.