A small section of the glorious living green wall outside the new Cbus tower in Sydney CBD

A small section of the glorious living green wall outside the Cbus tower in Sydney CBD

Yesterday the ABC published a great article called – Concrete Jungle.  In it there was some very interesting information about green walls & green roofs in Sydney.

  • There are already 75 green roofs in the City of Sydney LGA.
  • The City of Sydney Council receives at least one DA for a green roof every week.
  • They want to increase green roof coverage to 23.5% by 2030.

The article includes two short videos that are worth watching.  The first is about the green roofs & the benefits that these spaces bring to the people in the city.

The second video speaks about the green walls & microclimates of the green walls in the One Central Park Broadway development currently being constructed.  One of the central walls on the south side of this development is the biggest green wall constructed to date at 14-storeys tall & 4-metres wide.  The buildings also have 5-kilometres of balcony gardens.

Apart from the beauty of the green walls in the One Central Park development, where every façade – 1,000 square metres – will become ‘a veil of green,’ it is the cantilever terrace that projects out into the air that most fascinates me.  This space will have a small pool, flowering trees & a private garden where residents of the top 5 floors can go to relax & take in the panoramic views.  Talk about a selling point.

Whenever I think about green walls & green roofs I think of the development happening at the old RSL site in Marrickville called ‘The Revolution.’  At the Joint Regional Planning Panel meeting about this development, an angry crowd of about 100 local residents listened to the Architect answer three questions, one being – Had you considered a green roof?”  His answer was, “Not an environmental mandate.  You have to water a green roof. To what end is pumping water up to the roof?” 

The research I did on the requirements of watering green roofs found this simple explanation from Alive Structures –

Extensive green roof (3-7 inches of soil) – No, however the roof will need to be watered occasionally during the first year of establishment just like any landscape. But after the first year the plants can sustain themselves, with the only watering exceptions in extreme periods of drought.

Intensive (8 inches + of soil) – Yes. Since an intensive green roof can accommodate a large variety of plants, shrubs and trees, their watering requirements are higher than succulents and herbs. Intensive green roofs generally have an irrigation system installed.  http://alivestructures.com/FAQ/greenroof_faq/37

This DA decision for ‘The Revolution’ was at the tail-end of the period of currency of the old Marrickville Local Environment Plan (LEP) & the Development Control Plan 2010 (DCP).  Many in the community hoped that green roofs & walls, decent green space & decent sized trees in the development would be a requirement for high-rise development in the next LEP & DCP as these were to take us through the next 25-years.  It failed to eventuate.

The next time I saw a plan for a green roof was for the new Marrickville Library. That plan consisted of covering the roof with long straw-like grass & using the same long grass for the land out front of the Library, which many in the community had hoped would become a new small park.   This space was not usable for the public, so it wasn’t a surprise that this particular design was not chosen.

So City of Sydney powers ahead in yet another environmental area, while we have to rely on the benevolence of Architects & developers as to whether they will include such green features in the high-rise development to come – & there will be a lot of it.

The argument that City of Sydney Council has more money does not stand up here, because it is the developer who pays the cost of building the developments.  Their planning guidelines promote the environmentally-friendly options.

Housing is at a premium & whatever is built is sold.  Whether it is mediocre housing or great housing is the question.  One Central Park is at the premium end of housing, but there are another 74 green roofs elsewhere in the City of Sydney municipality.  They can’t all be premium.

You can read the article & watch the videos here – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-09/concrete-jungles/4742290

I took a screen shot directly from the ABC News article - with thanks.  Note what is happening in Brisbane with 51% canopy & 2-million trees planted over a 4-year period.  Very impressive.

This is a screen shot directly from the ABC News article – link above – with thanks.  Note what is happening in Brisbane with 51% canopy & 2-million trees planted over a 4-year period. Very impressive.

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