Up on the roof

Up on the roof

Total Property - Issue 2 2016

Roofs on new commercial buildings in France must be partially covered in plants or solar panels but New Zealand is a bit behind the eight ball when it comes to these ‘living roofs.’

However, encouraging signs are emerging.

Zoe Cooper, Living Roofs Aotearoa director, says advantages of ‘living roofs’ include air-conditioning and insulation benefits, energy savings, increasing useable/marketable rooftop space and protection from ultra violet damage.

The NZI Centre in Fanshawe Street, Auckland, has a 350m2 living roof planted with a variety of sedum/succulents plus exotic ice plants for colour.

Designed by Jasmax, it was New Zealand’s first commercial building to receive a 5-Star Green Star rating, which increased to 5.5 stars after a 17 percent improvement in energy use.

Down in Central Otago, the brief for Mt Difficulty Winery’s 900m2 vegetated living roof, was to incorporate local grasses and stonecrop sedum succulents, says Greg Yeoman, Stormwater360 designer. Yeoman says the living roof keeps heating and cool costs down and was designed for biodiversity, evaporative cooling, heat retention and the aesthetic enhancement of the roof for the winery’s restaurant and tasting rooms above.

Seven storeys above the Wellington CBD is the Arborist roof top bar. Owner/operator Tracey Lear says roof top bars in Melbourne and other cities, encouraged her to test the idea.

“Windy Wellington throws up weather challenges but we’re sheltered from the north-westerly which hits the waterfront bars,” Lear says. “We’ll copy New York’s lead and provide heaters, hot water bottles and blankets when it’s cold and will close on rainy days.”

In Mt Wellington, Auckland, is New Zealand’s largest solar array installation (equivalent in size to 12 tennis courts) which is atop the Sylvia Park shopping centre.

The 3,000m2, 1,134 panel installation has exceeded expectations with its electricity providing almost 20 percent of Sylvia Park’s base building energy needs.

Moving into town, in an alley opposite Auckland’s Sky Tower, is the Glass Goose rooftop bar. Making use of untapped space, it features a glass ceiling, stylish outdoor furniture, a Sky Tower view and fairy lights.

Also in Auckland’s CBD, design house Designworks has installed two beehives with 60,000 honeybees on the rooftops of its heritage building campus.

“Helping save Auckland’s bee population, coupled with our core principle of ‘working naturally,’ led us to partner with beekeeper Angus Willison,” says Designworks’ head of spatial design, Clark Pritchard.

Willison says the bees took time to get established due to city noise and vibrations. “But with a clear flight path to Albert Park, they’ve settled in well.” Designworks’ first packaged hand-pressed honey was presented as gifts to friends and clients.

Auckland Council’s ‘Place Activations Team’ is now investigating how more rooftops can support local hives and make Auckland ‘the safest city in the world’ for bees. Novotel Queenstown’s Lakeside hotel also has rooftop beehives designed to help increase the local bee population. “The honey is available for hotel guests in Elements Restaurant and will be given away as VIP guest gifts,” says general manager, Jim Moore.

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