Are Green Roofs the New Mirrored Glass?

monterey bay resort image

Monterey Bay Shores

When covering Tham & Videgard Hansson Arkitekter's glass clad treehouse I noted that "It is an old architectural trick used since the invention of mirrored glass: covering buildings with the reflective material and declaring that they blend in with the surroundings. Most architects use it to convince wary citizens that it is OK if their building is tall because it will reflect the sky and nature. The rendering always makes the building disappear, and the reality is always a big clunky mirrored box."

Looking at Brian's recent post on the "greenest eco-resort", the Monterey Bay Shores, I wonder: are green roofs being misused as the new mirrored glass, designed to deceive?

rimini image

JDS Architects, Rimini Seascape

It certainly has become a meme, the curvy organic green building with roofs that meet the ground, making the building disappear into the surroundings. Julien de Smedt Architects do a nice job of it in their presentation for Rimini in Italy.

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Daniel Andersson with Fredrik Kjellgren and Joakim Kaminsky, Gothenberg

It isn't just seasides either; it has been proposed for urban sites like New Heden in Gothenberg, Sweden.

monterey bay site plan

The trouble is, only airplanes see aerial views, and nobody sees siteplans except Google Earth. People see things from grade.

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From grade, the buildings dominate;

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or the green roofs disappear altogether.

rimini wall image

I am not saying that Monterey Bay Shores isn't the greenest ecoresort in the world. I am only saying that it is really hard to see roofs when you are standing on the ground, and in all of their information packages I could not find a single image of what it looks like when you are standing on the beach-


except this one, which was a bit small. If architects do not want to have a whole lot of disappointed citizens, they should be showing images of what the building is going to look like from where the citizens are going to be standing, not this greenwrapping of roofs that may well be the 21st century equivalent of mirrored glass.

See more greenwrapping in TreeHugger:

milano condos balconies image

How Green was my Balcony

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