Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reading List: Green Roof Systems

My good friends at Wiley sent me a copy of the long-awaited 'Green Roof Systems: A Guide to the Planning, Design, and Construction of Landscapes over Structure' by Susan K Weiler and Katrin Scholz-Barth. At first glance, the book is not remarkably pretty, which is usually a sign of a reference that aims for substance over style.

:: image via Amazon

A quick page through confirmed this suspicion, as this book is loaded with valuable information. Similar to other must-have references, this is not a book you read cover-to-cover, but zoom into tidbits of information, and check on questions related to all facets of rooftop design and construction. The book provides a bit of preface and context of the larger picture of green roofs from concept and planning - but this is not the strong selling point. That comes in the details.

:: image via Green Roof Systems

And there are details. The structure of the book guides a reader through systems, materials, documentation, structure, bidding and construction, and touching on liability and maintenance. This isn't a cursory discussion either but in depth information on a number of issues and the less fun 'essentials' of sucessful ecoroof design, such as specification writing, O&M manuals, and the nuances of structural systems - all the while providing a broad range of project types and components.

:: image via Green Roof Systems

The book does tend to favor the intensive, inhabitable rooftop terrace as opposed to the more extensive 'eco' roof, which is fine as the complexity is much more immense. I believe the evolution of the genre will further the separation of these deeper rooftops from the thinner systems - although the terminology continues to be fuzzy. There is also a reliance on many iterations of Olin projects (HannaOlin, Olin Partnership, and now merely a single word: OLIN, kind of like 'Cher' or 'Madonna') This is a bit limiting in regional scope, but guess is inevitable. I imagine it's a product of the authors experience, which is pretty comprehensive, but it'd be interesting to see how, say, the WaMu center building detailing stacked up to some east coast examples. Perhaps it merely my west coast bias showing through :)

There are some great items worth noting that are absent in other publications - probably best considered a much-needed update to the seminal work 'Roof Gardens: History, Design, and Construction' by Theodore Osmundson, which has long contained the most technical, albeit dated, information. Two sections that I've had to search for in the past for good information, which are covered in detail include roofing membranes and the connection between rooftop weights and the growth of vegetation.

:: image via Green Roof Systems

As I was at our booth recently for the Ecoroof Vendor Fair, I brought along a large stack of some of my favorite Veg.itecture books, which run the gamut from simplistic to visually stunning to essential. I was somewhat dumbstruck when someone asked me what the one book I would recommend for green roof design was - half because I was thinking 'who only wants to buy one book?' and half because I just didn't have the answer. While to sell the idea and provide stunning visuals and idea generation, other books offer much greater visual stimuli, this may be the only one you should probably own if you are serious about building landscape on structure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ecoroof Vendor Fair

It was great to spend Saturday hanging out with an energetic group of vendors and members of the community nerding out on Veg.itecture... good times. Spreading the gospel of the green and GreenWorks.

:: image via GreenWorks

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Thanks for those whom I had a chance to meet at the recent speaking engagements... I've decided to write that book on Veg.itecture I've been toying with, so any publishers out there, drop a line. And good news, more posts coming soon... for now, visit the flickr page from the fabulous Friends of the High Line... for your veg.itectural fix.

:: image via Friends of the High Line

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tonight: Habitats/Veg.itecture

integrating habitats defining veg.itecture
asla oregon - mt. hood section lecture
1515 SE Water Street - Suite 100
April 14, 2008 - 5:30pm

Two current trends that offer myriad opportunities for landscape architecture include trends towards truly integrated habitats and definitions of veg.itecture, the insertion of vegetation into architectural form. Jason King, ASLA LEED and Brett Milligan ASLA will provide an overview of both topics and provide an open forum for discussion of these important trends.

Part I will give a detailed account of their award-winning entry for the Metro Integrating Habitats Competition entitled Urban Ecotones: Transitional Spaces for Commerce and Culture. The proposal provides a vision for how innovative big box development design can regenerate, rather than destroy lowland hardwood forest habitat corridors within the expanding city of Portland. Using the model Nature in Neighborhoods ordinance as a guide, and Landscape Urbanism theory as a framework, the proposal is informed by time based, economic and ecological systems to provide an adaptive development model for the shift from fossil fuel dependency to a more localized economy. Particular attention is given to the thresholds at which commercial development meets natural systems. Rather than seeing these interactions as points of confrontation, they are approached as environments of unique richness—a synergy of both habitats akin to an ecotone: the transitional area between two ecosystems containing more diversity and biotic activity than singular habitats.

Part II will provide an engaging visual investigation of the recent trend of Veg.itecture and its impact on the allied professions of architecture and landscape architecture – including the representative, descriptive, and technical. This concept builds on and transcends our current implementation of simple rooftop gardens, ecoroofs, and living walls to encompass a holistic and integrated approach to design intervention that blurs the lines between landscape and architecture. Topics include a definition of the concept, including the eight common typologies of veg.itecture in action, and how this phenonomenon impacts and expands the practice of landscape architecture. In addition to providing this veg.itectural primer, the presentation will include a survey of recent projects from around the world as featured on Jason King’s blog Landscape+Urbanism including the work of Ken Yeang, Jean Nouvel, Patrick Blanc, Hundertwasser, Urbanarbolismo, James Corner, Mass Studies, and many more.

There will be time at the end for a thorough discussion of both topics, offering the chance to discuss, dispute, expand, and question these exciting topics that have current and future resonance for our profession.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vancouver CC Green Roof Videos

As promised some more coverage of the new Vancouver Convention Centre and it's massive green roof - this time in a pair of videos. First, a video featuring extensive interviews with the landscape architect, Bruce Hemstock from PWL Partnership, as well as Reece Rehm, planting supervisor for Holland Landscapers. Enjoy.

Thanks James from Radar DDB for the heads up. Another video focuses on the cost overruns on the project - which got particularly boring after a minute or so... anyway, check it out for a bit of info. Via YouTube: "The living roof is going to be something that is recognized around the world, said Campbell, taking part in a ceremonial planting to mark the completion of the 2.5-hectare plant-covered roof, the largest in North America.More than 350,000 indigenous plants and grasses have been planted in a 15-cm deep substrate of sand, organic mulch and lava rock and will be watered by 43 km of irrigation piping.There are more living plants on the roof of the Vancouver Convention Centre than flowers in all of Vancouvers 200 parks."

And a cool time-lapse video of the entire construction process - which is enlivened by the inclusion of the green roof soils and plantings...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

VIVA + VIA Sneak Peek

The inevitable issue with taking a break, even for a couple of weeks, from blogging, is that the flows of project ideas and concepts wait for no one and begin to pile up in a somewhat annoying fashion... so I have a massive backlog of projects to show off... and as it's late - a quick peek at some new ones before I get far into the projects. And as there seems to be a predominance of quick visual blogs popping up - I'm hoping to get some good dialogue and information going about both the visual and the realized.

For the (Veg.itecture in Visual Assessment) VIVA - GRAFT Architects and the “ao project” is a fantastic example of how wild the concept of Veg.itecture has come (via The Design Blog - via Designboom for much more). Or on another hand, it's an example of what happens to your glassy modern box if it gets lost in the back of the fridge for a month or so.

:: images via The Design Blog

And for the (Veg.itecture in Action) VIA we have the long-awaited Vancouver Convention Center (or Centre, depending on your location) - featuring the largest green roof in Canada... more on this one soon for sure.

:: image via Jetson Green

Food for Thought Winners

The winners for the competition 'Food for Thought' sponsored by 24-7 sandwich shop have recently been announced, and it seems as if the organizers were successful in providing some provocative visions of a new culture of food.

The winning entry 'Connection Wall' comes from Milos Milivojevic from Serbia and envisions a digital diner where virtual meetings can take place through the use of technology: "The central role of the dinner as gathering place of the family or friends is being dissolved. He is proposing a remedy. By making the 24/7 shop network a place were you can eat with your friends or family even if they are not there."

:: image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

Second place is from Vipra Kothary & Namrata Sharma of the UK for the entry 'Globe Trotting Kitchen', a parasitic structure that feeds on the host - in this case fast food chains - using this relationship to serve a healthy antidote to the ubiquitous food factories.

:: image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

Third is a disturbingly brilliant entry 'Le Vache-folle' by Mutabile Architecture that confronts our relationship with our food in all of it's bloody reality. Asking the questions: " do we treat the animals we eat? Why do we pick lobsters out of an aquarium but not chickens? Why not bring the food preparation much closer to the customer; Not by impletementing an open kitchen, but by bringing the slaughter itself into the restaurant."

:: image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

And in any competition, there are many worth runners-up, so I mined the archive for some interesting visuals of other entries, particularly some ideas around urban agriculture... no shortage of ideas on that topic. Check out many, many more at the 24-7 blog... definitely food for thought.

:: Urban Plant - image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

:: Delici(h)ous(e) - image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

:: Farm of Lost Tastes- image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

:: It's raining sandwiches - image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

:: 257MDM- image via 24-7 Sandwich Shop

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fungi Perfecti

Greetings... after a short pause from posting due to conference presentations and work (both paid and yard) - a breather to drop a few lines as a retrospective on the Soak it Up conference from last week. More to post in coming days, but a chance to rave about a pioneer and his book related to a vital and unseen aspect of sustainability. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti finished a fantastic conference with an engaging two-hour presentation on his work regarding the mycelia...

:: image via Fungi Perfecti

Now one might wonder how you may keep a restless conference audience gaping and engaged for two hours to discuss the humble mushroom, but the complexity and scope of the mycelial web that permeates the entire globe is some fascinating stuff. It helps that Mr. Stamets is a witty and talented speaker as well.

:: mushroom/mycelium - images via Fungi Perfecti

And I would be remiss without mentioning the book Mycelium Running, which I am currently devouring and savoring (say like some hand-picked chanterelles)...

:: image via Fungi Perfecti

I'm particularly enamored with the section on mycotechnologies - using mushroom cultures for curing some of our land and water ills, including:

:: Mycofiltration: the filtration of biological and chemical pathogens as well as controlling erosion.
:: Mycoforestry and mycogardening: the use of mycelium for companion cultivation for the benefit and protection of plants.
:: Mycoremediation: the use of mycelium for decomposing toxic wastes and pollutants.
:: Mycopesticides: the use of mycelium for attracting and controlling insect populations.

:: images via Fungi Perfecti

I will post more about the conference and the book as I get ramped up for more regular posting... as a prelude, see for yourself with this video of Stamets from TED... good stuff:
Info from TED: "Entrepreneurial mycologist Paul Stamets seeks to rescue the study of mushrooms from forest gourmets and psychedelic warlords. The focus of Stamets' research is the Northwest's native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas. ... There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet."