Green roofs weigh a lot; this makes it hard to retrofit them to existing buildings. Plant Architects had some fun putting one on the Royal Ontario Museum, and now in LA, architect Alexis Rochas puts one on an old Holiday Inn that was converted to a condo. He faced a similar problem of having to build a very thin, light structure. Sam Lubell describes it:
The sinuous project, located on top of The Flat, a new downtown residential building, is made of a folding and torqued galvanized sheet metal surface, prefabricated off site. This forms a series of platforms or "grow channels" filled with engineered soil that's light enough not to weigh the project down. The tiered structure, supported by an armature of steel tubes and a plywood substructure, wraps around the building's existing mechanical rooftop equipment, offering maximum solar exposure, maximum growing room, and efficient irrigation.
But this is LA, with lots of sun year round, so you don't just plant it and forget it, you can actually grow food on it.
Over 20 types of plants are grown here, rotated by season. This spring's crop includes thyme, kale, artichokes, tomatoes, chard, Thai basil, four types of mint, and Walla Walla onions.
More from Sam Lubell in the Architects Newspaper
The architect describes the project.
"As an architect, you design the structure and its shape, but also this time, its program and its use," Rochas explained. "The architect becomes a gardener, the gardener a planner." Indeed, the entire roof, but for a patch of grass intended for lounging by residents, is planted with various fruits, vegetables, and other edibles for Blue Velvet. Working 90-day crop cycles, the team grows all manner of tomatoes, herbs, greens, berries, wheat grass, even some monster cabbage. "It's a true, organic experiment, seeing what will grow and succeed," Rochas said. "And you can't get more local."
More from Matt Chaban in the Architects Newspaper Blog
More on Green Roofs
Rooftop Gardens Will Save the Bugs
Nothing New About Green Roofs
Green Roof Mashup: Golf Course, Filtration Plant, Park and Prison
Are Green Roofs the New Mirrored Glass?
Green Science Museum Opens in San Francisco: Living, Blooming Design Has the City in Awe