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Undulating Green Grass Roofing

If we do not honor our past we lose our future. If we destroy our roots we cannot grow.

— Friedensreich Hundertwasser

This quote written by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian painter and sculptor, is reflective of his architectural designs, which incorporate natural features of the landscape (Dec 15, 1928 – Feb 19, 2000). One of Hundertwassers most well know buildings the Hundertwasserhaus, a low-income apartment block in Vienna, features undulating floors a roof covered with grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms.

Other architects that have followed in the footsteps of Hundertwasser include Lebanese architect Fadi Sarieddine, St. Louis-based architect Mackey Mitchell and Associates Inc and Polish based architect Robert Konieczny. In the UK, the spectacular new car factory for Rolls Royce uses a grass roof to conceal the building from the South Downs.

A grass roof is a key component of an autonomous building. Also known as “green roofs”, grass roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures and combat the heat island effect.

In 2002, Container City created three en-suite accommodation units at Cove Park on Loch Long (Scotland) to act as artist retreats. In order to blend into the rural surroundings USM architects decided to install grass roofs.

The benefits of grass roofs are addressed below:

  • Green roofs decrease the total amount of water runoff and slow the rate of runoff from the roof. It has been found that they can retain up to 75% of rainwater, gradually releasing it back into the atmosphere via condensation and transpiration, while retaining pollutants in their soil.
  • Combating the urban heat island effect is another reason for creating a green roof. Traditional building materials soak up the sun’s radiation and re-emit it as heat, making cities at least 4 degrees Celsius hotter than surrounding suburbs. It is estimated that green roofs reduce heat by 14degrees.
  • Green roofs have also been found to dramatically improve a roof’s insulation value. A study conducted by Environment Canada found a 26% reduction in summer cooling needs and a 26% reduction in winter heat losses when a green roof is used.

image via: HundertwasserLake side shipping container house.