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If you require a little inspiration of the green roof kind, stop ogling the neighbour’s sedum-topped shed and start Google Earthing the ACROS building in Fukuoka, Japan, instead.
While the ‘elegant urban façade’ of the building’s northern face has a formal entrance opening out onto bustling city streets, its southern side is altogether earthier. Lush green vegetation extends from ground level over multiple one-storey terraces, right to the very top. And under the building’s 14 terraces is more than one million square feet of space.
When designing a building to be located in the city’s only remaining park, architect Emilio Ambasz knew what he must do. “A plaza was taken away and I wanted to give them a plaza back,” he says. Using a range of local species – short-trunked to withstand typhoons – he began work on the green roof as soon as the shell of the building was finished, and well before anyone moved in.
The roof is irrigated using a traditional dripping system, with blackwater recycling at times of drought. “Otherwise the plants just prosper like any plant under the sky,” says Ambasz. “It’s very simple.”
In addition to the environmental benefits of replacing lost green space, there are aesthetic ones – with panoramic views of the bay from the top – and commercial ones, with all space rented out in advance of completion.
Ultimately, says Ambasz, ACROS demonstrates that: “You can have the building and the garden, not just the building in the garden.”