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green roofs

When artist Jorge Bakker came up with an idea to fill an aquarium with floats containing model trees, little did he expect his installation to turn into reality. Trying to raise questions regarding the relationship between nature and people living in cities, Bakker surely couldn’t imagine that his concept would be recognized as something that should actually be given an opportunity to thrive in real life through groundbreaking architectural concepts.

Naturally, such recognition could only have come from people who understand, love and respect nature and who had to learn so much about it before making the most of what it gave them. So, if you find yourself in Rotterdam and see floating trees rooted in buoys next to the Floating Pavilion, another landmark in this Dutch city, it doesn’t mean your mind is playing tricks on you. On the contrary, you’ll be treated with one of the most eye-catching and original installations in this part of the world.

Image Credit - uncubemagazine.com

Water Square

Moving towards the modern city center, you might come across a square tucked in between a 19th-century church and a long linear block containing houses, offices, a theater and two schools. This unused and dull space often used to be flooded, since it rains quite a lot in Rotterdam.

Most other places would have solved this problem differently, but not the local city council. A significant investment was made to convert this square into one of the most interesting and vibrant places in Rotterdam. Namely, three pools were created which fill up with water when it rains, and are then used as sports playgrounds and dancefloors. The Water Square is now one of the most popular attractions among both the locals and tourists.

Floating park, hotel,…

Another fascinating idea related to water and its preservation is the emerging Recycled Park, whose purpose is to use recycled plastic to create litter traps for marine litter, thus preventing it from entering the North Sea. The more plastic is retrieved, the bigger the Park will grow. However, the most important impact is, by all means, the protection of water.

Image credit - inhabitat.com

And it is more than obvious that Rotterdam is not going to stop there. The list of projects being currently developed includes a floating subdivision of houses, a floating dairy farm and a floating hotel, deep down in the harbor, at the Innovation Dock.

Water management

Now, you might wonder how come the citizens of Rotterdam are so keen to manage water so carefully. The answer is pretty simple, actually. With almost two-thirds of their country below the sea level and their own town situated around six meters below the sea level, it’s clear that local authorities have to make the most of the advantages that water provides.

As we have seen, they often have to come up with innovative solutions, such as those for emergency storage during heavy downpours and systems for a delayed discharge of rainwater, which ensures that the city has enough high-quality water even during the driest spells.

That’s why the water storage is omnipresent in Rotterdam, with green roofs doing their part in creating a healthy, sustainable environment. They absorb rainwater, lower the runoff, which in turn leads to less pressure on the sewage system.

For almost a decade now, the City of Rotterdam has been running a subsidy scheme for supporting the installation of green roofs on private residential buildings, so more and more people are using this opportunity to improve their living conditions, help the environment and lower the installation costs.

It’s pretty obvious that Rotterdam has not only turned its potentially most dangerous enemy as a means of improving the quality of life of its citizens but has also made it a tourist attraction. It’s widely accepted that Rotterdam’s example is one of the best in terms of collaboration among key stakeholders and experts. Many have been calling it the “water city of the future” for quite some time now, and rightfully so. The way this city uses water should also help us all in our struggle to deal with the climate changes and the consequences they bring.

Green architecture has many versatile advantages. Green buildings consume less power, last longer and it is healthier to live in them rather than conventional houses. Their construction requires less material and they are usually self-sustainable. Of course, they also have a smaller negative impact on the environment.

The investment in green home is investment in your health. How productive are you when you have a headache or you are under stress? You can get a headache or be stressed because of harmful vapours from low quality materials used for construction of your home, poor lighting, constant noise, etc. Less energy is consumed when we have good natural light and quality insulation. When you live in a green house you have more money to spend on things you like, because you have lower costs for doctors, repairs, heating and cooling, maintenance, etc. You can make your home greener by installing green walls and roof.

How to make a green wall?

Green wall, or an indoor vertical garden, consists of fixed or movable supporting structure, space to accommodate the plants and irrigation system (pump, tank for nutrition and water, a timer and a dropper).

Plants for the green wall are grown in containers with special fibres that concentrate the root in one place and they are usually in regular geometric shape (cube or rectangle). Attach metal construction that will carry your new vertical garden on the wall and along the construction conduct watering system. Make sure that every plant gets access to the water. You will also need a waterproof layer that will insulate your regular wall from moisture. After that, stack the plants next to each other and make a plant mosaic.

Plants that are recommended for green walls are creeping philodendron, dracaena, ivy, scindapsus, ferns, Spathiphyllum, aglaonema and plants with small root system.

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How to make a green roof?

The construction of the green roof and its layers depend on the purpose of the roof. All green roofs have one thing in common and that is that they must contain certain layers so their ecosystem could live.

The layers of the green roof are:

  • Supporting structure – its purpose is to withstand the roof load and it represents the support for the other layers.
    Waterproof layer – which is intended to retain the rain water and its channelling towards the sewer or to a system for storing the rain water.
  • Layer which prevents the penetration of roots in the supporting layer – this layer prevents the roots penetration in depth. The most commonly used material for this layer is geotextile.
    Drainage layer – this layer that is intended to retain the water that plants can use for nutrition during drought periods.
  • Layer for filtration – which prevents the penetration of higher layers and roots in the drainage layer but allows the water come through.
  • Sand or small rocks – are used to help drain the soil, they are porous so they provide an excellent basis for application of the soil.
  • Soil – or any other substrate that enables plants to grow.

There are other layers that you can use for green roof construction but these are the most commonly applied. If you want to grow something other than grass and small plants on your roof you have to apply thicker layer of soil and stronger supporting construction so the plants can grow undisturbed.

http://www.greenroofs.com/

By building green you invest in your health, reduce the impact of construction on the environment, improve the quality of your living space and reduce the costs associated with the using of the building. There are more and more people on our planet and less and less resources. We have to be more responsible when we build so the next generations don’t end up left without necessary resources.