Green Roofs

Architectural Drawings: 8 Green Roofs in Section

Get to the roots of green roof design.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Green roofs are making a comeback. From the most basic sod roofs to modern rooftop parks spanning thousands of feet, green roofs have shaped architecture throughout history. Green roofs are a layered combination of vegetation and membrane over a building that can help insulate and provide water management. But understanding green roofs can be tricky, as it’s a delicate balance between living and man-made systems.

The following projects showcase green roof design in section, revealing building-wide formal moves and up-close detailing. These systems help mitigate the heat island effect, create habitats, filter pollutants, sequester carbon and can increase agricultural and amenity space. Drawn from a diverse range of scales and programs, they show different ways that green roofs can be implemented in projects both large and small. To learn more, you can check out Architizer’s Green Roof Guide, which introduces larger concepts of green roof systems. The guide covers the fundamentals of selecting roofing systems with consultants.

Green RoofsProfessionnal & Technical High School by marjan hessamfar & joe verons architectes associes, Mont-de-Marsan, France

This High School building is surrounded by a woodland, a protected forest with several hundred-year old oak trees and tall pine trees. The forest on the hill side behind the school is visible from the front of the building which is split into individual blocks integrated into the landscape. The re-vegetation of the hill sides was continued onto the roof on the west side. Landscaping of the site has a continuous, flowing feel as it incorporates the building into the actual hill side and forest. Flowering meadows were chosen for both the slopes and the roof as they are easy to maintain and fit in well with the local wood.

Green RoofsGreen RoofsVancouver Convention Centre West by LMN Architects, Vancouver, Canada

The world’s first LEED Platinum convention center, Vancouver Convention Centre West fully integrates the urban ecosystem at the intersection of a vibrant downtown core. The iconic living roof, visible from throughout the city, forms the terminus of a chain of waterfront parks that rings the harbor and creates continuous stepping-stone habitat between the convention center and Stanley Park. Less visible but equally productive, an artificial concrete reef drops below the waterfront promenade, designed in collaboration with marine biologists to restore the ecology of the natural shoreline.

Green Roofs

Green RoofsCalifornia Academy of Sciences by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, San Francisco, CA, United States

The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is one of the few Natural Science Institutes where the public experience is directly related to in house scientific research, done in the same building, since its foundation.The roof, floating at the same height as the roof of the original halls, formally unifies the institute. It is landscaped with native plant species which are drought resistant and do not require irrigation. The green roof extends beyond the perimeter walls and becomes a glass canopy providing shade, protection from the rain and generates energy through more than 55,000 photo voltaic cells in the glass. In the center of the Living Roof a glazed skylight covers a piazza.

Green Roofs

Green Roofs

The Hotchkiss School, Biomass Heating Facility by Centerbrook Architects & Planners, Salisbury, CT, United States

Centerbrook has designed a new Central Heating Facility for The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut that heats the campus by burning woodchips. In order to merge with the surrounding landscape, the new building has a low profile and an undulating, sloped green roof. Sustainable features include the building’s vegetated roof of hearty sedums that will combine with a bio-swale/rain garden system to absorb rainwater and filter runoff before returning it to the ground.

Green RoofsGreen RoofsThe Marcel Sembat High School by archi5, Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France

The Marcel Sembat high school in Sotteville-lès-Rouen is separated in two parts reconnected by a bridge building. A public park is located straight on the south side of the site, and the entire school is divided in six buildings of different periods, from the 30’s to 90’s. The building starts at the boundary of the park and fits naturally to the site by the wavy design of its vegetated roof to varying curves and low height. The main ideas of the proposal are to find a unity and identity of the school with the whole site, and to integrate and connect the high school and the park with the particular shape of the “blades”.

Green RoofsGreen RoofsGarden School by OPEN Architecture, Beijing, China

Situated in the center of a new town just outside Beijing’s southwest fifth ring road, this new public school on 4.5 hectares of land is designed as the branch campus for the Beijing No.4 High School. The lower building contains the auditorium, gymnasium, and the swimming pool. Each of these spaces push the ground up from below into various shapes; their roofs take the form of landscaped gardens become the undulating new open ‘ground’. The roof-top of the upper building is designed to be an organic farm, with 36 plots for the 36-classes of students in the school, providing students the chance to learn the techniques of farming, and also paying tribute to the site’s pastoral past.

Green RoofsGreen RoofsHouse Behind the Roof by Superhelix Pracownia Projektowa – Bartłomiej Drabik, Kraków, Poland

House is located in the suburban zone of Krakow in Poland. The building is part of a housing estate consisting of 10 single-family houses. The estate is characterized by dense development resulting from high land prices. In order to ensure the privacy of the residents, the house is hidden from access road and northern neighbors behind the roof surface. The green roof has a 45-degree slope, and the characteristic element of the building is construction made of laminated timber with diagonally guided elements and undercuts at the edges of the roof. It has been exposed not only outside, it also penetrates to the interior of the building.

Green RoofsMoesgaard Museum by Henning Larsen, Aarhus, Denmark

The Moesgaard Museum was designed around its roofscape. With its green roof, courtyard gardens, and underground terraces, the museum invites various new and alternative kinds of exhibitions. The 16,000 m2 museum is uniquely located in the hilly landscape of Skåde south of Aarhus. With its sloping roofscape of grass, moss and flowers, the building appears as a powerful visual landmark perceptible even from the sea. The rectangular shaped roof plane seems to grow out of the landscape and during summer it forms an area for picnics, barbecues, lectures and traditional Midsummer Day’s bonfires.

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© Khmaladze Architects

Coffee Production Plant – Meama // Khmaladze Architects

Tbilisi, Georgia

© ASWA (Architectural Studio of Work - Aholic)

Inthamara House // ASWA (Architectural Studio of Work – Aholic)

Bangkok, Thailand