Review: Roof Garden and Design

Words: Kat Chaousis

The ‘green’ movement is everywhere in recent times, from our smoothies, to our salads, our laneways, highways and now our skyscrapers. Rooftop Garden and Design is a promotion of the latest ‘green’ practices in sustainable gardening with what was once a wasted space in our cities – rooftops.

 Editor David Fletcher is an urban designer and landscape architect and amongst many significant achievements, he has also taught urban design and landscape architecture at Harvard Design School. Fletcher provides commentary dispersed between endless pages of vivid photography detailing the concept, design and process; and adding depth to the complex layers of considerations, which arise during sustainable planning.
This book is appealing to a modern movement of architecture and design,
increasing our awareness of the impact of construction on the environment and how we can harness one to help the other. In his preface, M K Leung notes, ‘the need to improve our urban green infrastructure to create a better living environment is both pressing and imminent. The rooftops of existing and new buildings provide opportunities for architects and designers to regenerate nature of artificial ground.’
Leung highlights a few common threads in the works presented in this
publication, which are ‘integrated planning, climate response, people oriented, adding value, ecological and resource efficiency.’ Overall, Leung concludes that successful rooftop greening demands careful design and planning. Thus, Rooftop Garden and Design takes its readers on a careful journey of just that. The chapters cover: Introduction to Rooftop Gardens, Design Considerations, Operation and Maintenance; followed by various case studies highlighting global projects – from commercial to residential – in Australia, Chile, China, Europe, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Scandinavia, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.
Each project is showcased with narrative, which includes the brief and the
environmental considerations viewed through large and crisp photography. It ultimately celebrates the final product interspersed with concept and design sketches from the earlier stages of planning. The photography in this publication is so vivid that you can almost feel the rich warmth and breathe in the freshness of these spaces.
There are a variety of featured projects such as the Ko Shan Theatre New Wing
in Hong Kong (p.40), designed by Ronald Lu & Partners. It features ‘a theatre inside a park – an environmentally and social responsive strategy for a unique urban park context,’ capturing a ‘green regeneration’ and revitalising the parks’ role as a public facility.
In Switzerland we see the 9 House Estate Lattenstrasse (p.82), designed by Peter Vetsch  whose vision was born out of the energy crisis as he works towards energy saving building methods. In New York, The Tribeca Loft (p.128) designed by Andrew Franz to create a ‘fluid connection with the outdoor environment’ using a relocated mezzanine as a ‘sunken interior court with a retractable glass roof leading to the green roof above.’
As you journey through the publication it’s hard not to be inspired at the thought of wide open, fresh green retreats bringing new life and rich bursts of colour to harsh spaces. The design of these rooftop areas are thoughtfully seeking harmony between the natural and the social in engineering spaces, which entice people to gather and enjoy, whilst nurturing the delicate environmental balance and benefits.
This book is an appetising body of work sure to set inspiration in motion for transforming lifeless, unused spaces into greener areas of vibrancy and energy.
Rooftop Garden and Design
Edited by David Fletcher
RRP: $66.21
Published by The Images Publishing Group