10 Living Roofs You Have To See To Believe
With square footage at a premium, it’s time to think … up. Rooftop gardens have moved away from secluded eco-retreats and onto chic houses and apartment buildings in cities around the world, and are quickly becoming the urban must-have. Living Roofs, written by Ashley Penn and published by teNeues, takes a look at gardens and green spaces perched atop dwellings of all sizes, proving once and for all, you can have a green space in the city with or without a backyard.
Click through to see some of the spectacular outdoor spaces!
This garden has everything you could possibly hope for in an urban oasis. There’s a calming solid oak and Corten steel water feature filled with water lettuces and hyacinths, an outdoor shower (hidden behind stucco walls on the very left, past the fabric screens), and a pergola with Japanese wisteria climbing all over it.
What else would you expect from the West Coast? This townhouse’s small backyard rises over five meters to create a very steep slope, which leads up to a wooden deck, complete with a chair and views of San Francisco’s Bay Area. Low-lying greenery acts as a walkway, while Japanese maples and koi bamboo frame the garden provide some structural height along the path.
The fifth floor terrace on this studio and house is one of three patios on the property and spans the entire roof, measuring 320-square-feet. A concrete kitchen and movable dining area are perfect for al fresco entertaining. The mismatched metal furniture is oh-so-fun and ideal for casual dinner parties.
This penthouse garden in the heart of New York City is as spectacular as you’d expect for a piece of prime real estate. Spanning 6,500-square-feet, it’s an urban playground filled with seating areas, a dining area and a stainless steel hot tub that’s spread over four levels, which wrap around and above the penthouse.
Another Milanese property, this time with a distinctively modern feel. The deck features an inlaid wooden rug-like border, offering seamless separation of space without any walls or dividers. Colors from the bright furnishings are reflected in the plantings of Japanese maple, geraniums and sedums.
Made up of two cabins, the private retirement residence for two artists was designed to blend as seamlessly as possible with their surroundings. This photo was taken from the roof of the lower cabin, looking up towards the top one. The gently sloped roof was designed with layers of materials, including plants to alleviate any possible erosion.
Even a historical rowhouse can have a green roof — it just takes some smart planning. This rooftop terrace was retrofitted onto the historical building and constructed with lightweight materials. The plants are limited to those with shallow roots that thrive on limited soil. Mexican feather grass, Korean reed grass and Alliums provide lush borders.
Photographed at night, the soft pink LED strip lights are visible, which are a softer alternative to crisp white light. The deck is edged in narrow borders of crushed glass aggregate — a fun alternative to gravel or soil.
Offering a spa-like zen appeal, the unified palette of natural materials gives this outdoor space a sense of calm. The planting of Himalayan birch, Japanese maple, and Bisset’s bamboo contrast the strong lines of the wooden architecture with movement created by their light foliage.
One of the popular styles of backyard layouts in Toronto is the detached garage that exits onto an alleyway. This home makes the most of the structure by placing an entertaining space above, accessible by a ladder from the doorway on the left. Above, a reflection pool decorated with amber glass mosaic tiles echoes the warm wood decking, all of which tempers the deep greens of the boxwood plantings. It’s the perfect place for a cocktail or two!