Rooftop gardens breaking new ground – The Age

Age green roof articleMelbourne is developing a world of private parklands hidden from the streetscape.

Rooftop gardens are springing up across the city, luring residents away from traditional house blocks to apartments with shared green space.

Colliers International’s Matthew Stagg said rooftop gardens were becoming more popular as the city’s apartment market matured.

“Traditionally, apartments in Melbourne have been catered towards singles and couples,” he said.

“Buyers and tenants are now looking for additional amenities that are available exclusively to residents, particularly Asian buyers and an increasing number of families with children seeking larger apartments and amenities.”

Melbourne is catching up with the latest international trend popular in New York, Singapore and Shanghai.

Gail Hall, project co-ordinator of urban landscapes at the City of Melbourne, and co-author of the Growing Green Guide, has seen an increase of green developments over the past year.

She said inner-city councils encouraged the uptake of green roofs as it helped make the city more resilient to the negative impact of increased density and loss of greenery as population increased.

Not only the inner city is recognising the need for more green space. Earlier this year Stonnington Council indicated it would consider creating more parks in its suburbs, which have only 6.7 per cent as public open space. The council is also looking at creating “pocket parks” in dead-end streets and roof gardens.

As well as improving aesthetics and creating open space, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victorian president Jon Shinkfield said rooftop gardens should also be functional.

“I love the idea, for instance, of being able to walk down Collins Street and to be able to buy tomatoes at a street vendor where the tomatoes have been grown on the top of a building,” he said.

The Far East Consortium’s Upper West Side project, bordered by Spencer, Lonsdale and Little Bourke streets and Rose Lane, is one of the developments going green. It will give residents access to more than 4000 square metres of podium garden when completed.

Sprawling over four interconnected residential towers, amenities will include barbecue facilities, pavilions for shade, vegetable patches and a bocce court.

Cottee Parker Architects’ Victorian manager, Shane Williams, who worked on the project, said this would be the largest of its kind in Melbourne.

Freshwater Place in Southbank, one of the tallest residential towers in the CBD, was completed in 2005 with a garden on level 10. The space was designed by LBA Design director and landscape architect Laurence Blyton.

“Because of the clientele they were trying to attract, empty nesters from the leafy eastern suburbs, the roof garden on Freshwater Place was designed to resemble what they’d left behind,” Mr Blyton said.

He doesn’t see the trend easing. “People are now demanding a hamburger with the lot. They don’t just want a lovely new apartment, they want the garden to go with it.”

Rooftop Workshop Participant Designs – OHM 2014 – More to come!


Green Wall Walking Tours – Open House Melbourne 2014

The team from Do it on the Roof in conjunction with Stuart Tyler from Fytogreen hosted some short green wall walking tours in the Docklands as part of Open House Melbourne 2014.

Showing love for our city.

Showing love for our city.

The tours included three green walls – ANZ Docklands, The Gauge and Medibank.

ANZ green wall on Navigation Drive is a Fytogreen project completed in 2009. The landscape architects were Hassell and they specified the plant species. The wall is a contemporary treatment with blocks of single species in a patterned array with the main goal being aesthetics. The wall utilises harvested rainwater from the roof and car park surfaces held in tanks and powered by water pumps.

ANZ Docklands green wall, Navigation Drive.

ANZ Docklands green wall, Navigation Drive.

The Gauge green wall at 825 Bourke Street is an internal green wall designed and constructed by Mark Paul of the The Green Wall Company in June 2008. It is 12m x 6m and planted with ferns, epiphytes (plants that grow on plants) and lithophytes (plants that grow on or in rocks). It is irrigated at 2.5litres per square metre per day through an automatic drip system.

Green wall at The Gauge cafe in Bourke St Docklands. Image from

Green wall at The Gauge cafe in Bourke St Docklands. Image from

The Medibank green walls and facades at 720 Bourke Street comprise a large (external) vertical garden, 502 green facade planters covering 16 stories, as well as a roof garden (which we didn’t see on the day). The vertical garden, which covers around 400m2 is split into two sections from ground level to the fourth story. The vertical garden utilises 78 exotic species and is in a shaded south facing exposure.

The Medibank vertical gardens in Bourke Street.

The Medibank vertical gardens in Bourke Street.

Special thanks to Stuart Tyler from Fytogreen for making himself available (on a Saturday!) to discuss the projects with the general public. If you’re keen to check out The Gauge green wall the cafe is open Monday to Friday at 825 Bourke St, you can sit right underneath the foliage!

Rooftop Workshops – Open House Melbourne 2014

Do it on the Roof facilitated some rooftop workshops as part of Open House Melbourne 2014 to give interested Melbournians a taste of what a green roof is, what can be done on a green roof and what to think about when designing for rooftop activities.

Showing love for Melbourne

Showing love for Melbourne

Do it on the Roof CEO - Dr Shelley Meagher

Do it on the Roof CEO – Dr Shelley Meagher








At the beginning of the workshop participants were taken on a virtual journey from Morocco and Greece where you might see people washing clothes on the roof, some chairs for drinking tea, and some trees in pots, to Germany where you would see vegetated roofs covered in sedums, to New York and Chicago where you’d find rooftop farms, to the UK where biodiversity is a driver for green roofs, to Japan, Singapore and many other parts of the world, including of course Australia where you might see some solar panels combined with a green roof. The world is doing it on the roof.

Leading the group through green roof design considerations.

Leading the group through green roof design considerations.

The Do it on the Roof Team then took participants through what is a green roof in particular the various layers; roof deck, waterproofing, root barrier, protection mat, drainage layer, filter sheet, growing substrate and the vegetation layer (see image below).

Karolina Bartowicz from RMIT’s Landscape Architecture school then outlined the fantastic green roof research being carried out on the rooftops of RMIT’s university buildings in Melbourne’s CBD.

Tosh and Alex (pictured below) from our renewable energy partners Energy for the People and The People’s Solar then gave the group a run down on how best to integrate solar panels and green roofs and the multi-benefits of crowdfunding solar panel installations in your local community.

Alex Houlston from The People's Solar.

Alex Houlston from The People’s Solar.

The Team also discussed the design considerations for green roofs, namely; the existing condition of the building structure and roof membrane, the goals of your green roof, and the environmental and other benefits you’re trying to achieve. The team finished off with a call to action directed at local government, specifically asking them how communities can get on with greening our grey streets and buildings? In the mean time we would like to encourage readers and participants to post pictures on Twitter @doitontheroof of grey areas in their community that they’d like to green and include the hashtag #greytogreen. If you have specific feedback about the workshops or what you’d like to see in future workshops please email us directly

Green roof layers as shown in Growing Green Guide.

Green roof layers as shown in Growing Green Guide.