More Green Roof Greenwash: Gary Neville's Teletubby House

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Everyone is having great sport with UK footballer Gary Neville for proposing an underground "ecobunker" designed by the talented MAKE architects, comparing it to the home of Laa-Laa, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, and Po. But the joke is stale, having been told with every curvy green roof built, including theCalifornia Academy of Sciences. The real question is, what makes this thing an "ecobunker"? Is it a good thing?

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Images via Daily Mail

On the positive side, he is downsizing, always the TreeHugger correct thing to do. Neville currently lives in what the Mirror describes as a "modest £6m, 12-bedroom pile at Top O' The Knotts, Bury with its own private golf course, cinema, swimming pool, stables, gym and flowerbeds spelling out MUFC. (Manchester United Football Club)"

The earth-sheltered home will have wind turbines, a ground source heat pump, and the underground design "'enables the surrounding moorland to seamlessly flow across the roof'."

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The Daily Mail notes that "the 8,000sq ft bunker will be built in the grounds of the £8million estate and boast the latest eco-technology, in line with Neville's proclaimed passion for the environment."

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"The innovative design is intended to have minimal impact on views of the Lancashire hills and has been likened to a Neolithic settlement," supposedly Skara Brae, a neolithic settlement in Orkney.

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live for the outdoors

Indeed, there is a resemblance. There is another thing they have in common: they are both on protected land. According to the local paper,

Though the development would be on green belt land, it is understood that Neville is hoping to use planning laws that allow the building of new country houses providing the designs are "truly outstanding and ground-breaking" and reflect the "highest standards in contemporary architecture".

Just like the golf course in the green belt we showed earlier, the green roof is basically being used to put a house where it is not supposed to be, in the middle of a greenbelt. To repeat myself:

Context matters. Greenbelts and protected areas matter and are under threat everywhere. 8,000 square feet of construction in a greenbelt, even if it is underground, matters. Putting a green roof on a building doesn't give it a free pass.