Monday, December 8, 2008


City roofs seem to be barren expanses of rubber and metal, littered with air units and exhaust piping. Recently however, and especially in areas of green construction, plants and vegetation have been sprouting up on new buildings’ roofs. These plants provide numerous benefits, both to the building and to the environment, but could vegetation atop buildings become even more advantageous?

The Idea: rooftop nurseries.

Rooftop nurseries would be an extension of green roofs, but would be available atop standard buildings (both commercial and residential) as well. Rooftop nurseries would be, quite simply, regular nurseries housed on city roofs. The vegetation could range from houseplants and flower bouquets to full blown vegetable gardens and starter trees. They would provide many of the benefits a green building's roof provides, while simultaneously encouraging many economic benefits. Rooftop nurseries would create opportunities for businesses and employment, as well as opportunities for increases in locally grown products; further, they would give an aesthetic boost to downtrodden neighborhoods.

A variation could be to free up valuable metropolitan real estate. In many cities, there are a number of gardens – often spanning entire blocks - which are tended to by residents. Perhaps the owner could choose to sell the land their garden is on in exchange for a plot on their roof, where their plants and vegetables could be relocated. This would benefit everyone involved, since it would allow the developer to create profitable housing, commercial real estate, or a mix of both; it would allow the residents to maintain the gardens, with the possibility of increased growth due to the new altitude and unguarded sun; and the city would bask in the economic, environmental, and public relations benefits that would come along with brokering such a deal.

To learn more about existing rooftop vegetation projects, check out

1 comment:

Christina Samuelson said...

This is a great conversation starter. I think rooftop nurseries and gardens makes a lot of sense. From the economic and ecological growth, to the local food production, to an increased aesthetic, there is no reason there should not be more of these. The only idea I was not in love with, was the uprooting of pre-existing gardens for more construction development. But I do think many positive possibilities can come from these ideas. Good thinking guys.