With Green Roof, Nanyang University School of Art Tries to Disappear

nanyang university green roof photo
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Nanyang University Photo Credit CPG Consultants via Greensource

I noted in an earlier post on Zaha Hadid's design museum in Seoul:

Green roofs are wonderful things, and they are introducing a whole new design aesthetic where roof meets grade, and a whole new presentation style where we look down at buildings instead of up. If only we had wings.

Most of the new green roof-driven designs we see now are still just renderings, but in Singapore, the Nanyang University School of Art, Design and Media opened in 2006, and you don't need wings to take it in.

nanyang university green roof courtyard photo

Nanyang University Photo Credit CPG Consultants via Greensource
Aric Chen of Greensource lists one main reason these structures are often proposed, saying that the University wanted a

non-building building, as CPG director Hoong Bee Lok puts it, that would allow it to build on the central green space without taking away from it.

In other words, they were putting a building into an open space designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange that was the "green lung" of the campus, and they wanted to pretend it would disappear. This seems to often be the function of green roofs these days; As I noted in the post on Grimshaw's water filtration plant:

The Bronx NIMBYs went nuts when it was proposed that a water filtration plant be built in a park. So the architects, Grimshaw, followed what is becoming a common strategy: put a green roof on it and show it from the air. Building? What building?
nanyang university green roof water feature photo

Nanyang University Photo Credit CPG Consultants via Greensource

CPG Consultants has done a lovely job here, all while being sensitive to environmental issues:

the building’s greenest feature, in more ways than one, remains the roof. In addition to reducing solar gain and slowing runoff during Singapore’s frequent downpours, it is irrigated using rainwater collected in storage tanks; a moisture retention mat installed beneath the lightweight soil also helps keep the grass consistently damp under the sun.
nanyang university green roof building plan photo

Nanyang University Photo Credit CPG Consultants via Greensource

But it is a fantasy for architects to keep showing aerial perspectives and claim that they are "non-building buildings;" That is only true if you are a bird. Looking at the photos of the completed Nanyang building, it is obviously very real.

More on Green Roofs and Hiding Buildings:

rimini seascape image
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Zaha Hadid Does a Green Roof in Seoul

grimshaw brooklyn image

Green Roof Mashup: Golf Course, Filtration Plant, Park and Prison

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Green Roofs Meet the Ground in New Heden