Sharrow School, close to the city centre, features one of the most ambitious green roof projects in the country. Sharrow is on a sloping hill and the new primary school (as of 2009) was designed to be on several levels, and therefore several roof layers, which double up as outdoor learning spaces and green roofs. The 2000sq metres of multi-level roofs contain a number of habitats, from Peak District limestone grassland, wildflower meadows, urban brownfield sites to a wetland area with a small pond. The roofs have been the first in the country to be granted local nature reserve status.
One of north London’s more recent hipsters quarters, Dalston, mixes a fair share of bubbling creative activities with serious social challenges. Dalston Roof Park has been set up for three years in Ashton Street, (possibly twinned with Lewes’s former Socialist Republic of Leicester Road) as a social enterprise atop a mixed-use workspace building to be used for all sorts of social and community activities, from open-air movies in bed (I kid you not!) community bake offs, local company’s product launches, and music and party type activities.
The Muse has been until recently the work studio for Bere Architects, and remains home to its founder, Justin Bere. While Bere, the architect, and Bere the practice have become known as leading advocates of the Passivhaus approach to zero energy design, the building they work from has also been featured as one of the most attractive and photogenic roof garden projects in London, earning features in the National Geographic. Bere, (in the architectural mode) has created a fantastic roof garden within a very tight urban space round the back of Islington Square.
In Britain, the midlands city of Sheffield is at the forefront of developments with green roofs. Planning rules for the city require all new buildings over 1000 square metres, or more than ten houses, to integrate 80% of vegetated cover. Policy and initiatives have been influenced by the Green Roof Centre, which is part of Sheffield University’s Landscape Architecture department. The Centre has been conducting green roof experiments for the past decade, including Sharrow school, (pictured) and several of the rooftops of the university’s new buildings, as well as on various other buildings across South Yorkshire. To date there are over a 120 green roof building projects in the one time steel city.