The greentainer project by Exposure architects demonstrates the innovative social potential of relatively simple green roof spaces. By importing a modern green house to function as a flexible space for art exhibitions, soirees etc the social use of a roof garden space can be enhanced without detracting from the vibrancy of its outdoor quality.
The Residences 900 in Chicago is a beatifully executed (but more conventional) social space on a green roof. However, the benefits of a mixed garden to ecology cannot be underestimated. The roof garden on the 17th floor of the Washington Mutual Bank is a little more zen. It creates a contemplative social environment reminiscent of a wind swept plain – yet provides views across Elliot Bay.
The Dirt (ASLA) blog has a post on “living buildings”. It reviews the idea that in future a building ‘won’t just use less water; it will collect and treat it. It won’t just force air; it will filter it’. This reminds me of the excellent example ASLA set the world by putting a green roof on its own office building – and suggests a possible future for the profession. ‘Landscape architecture’ is, I believe, one of the world’s most important professions, but the general public has never come to terms with its name. We could and should give it a new slant by taking the lead in ‘the landscaping of architecture’. As the photo of the ASLA building shows, a focus on the landscape treatment of individual buildings in not enough. We should develop citywide landscape strategies for buildings with useful exterior surfaces. They can be used for recreation, carbon sequestration, food production, rainwater harvesting and much else. The diagram from a 1996 City as landscape essay on Eco-cities, suggests a citywide approach to the landscape treatment of roofscapes – and has a slight visual kinship with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associate’s design for the ASLA green roof.