A rooftop vegetable and herb garden to delight the senses

Newforms Landscape Architecture was commissioned to create this light and bright roof garden for an already-existing residence. The owners built the property in 2006/07 and were tired of looking at the top of a roof that sat adjacent to their outdoor entertaining area. They called on Newforms and Phase3 Landscape Construction to see if a functional and aesthetically pleasing roof garden was possible, and, as you can see, it certainly was.

There were a few design and construction challenges that had to be overcome to achieve the owners’ brief. Access to the roof below had to be maintained in order to clean out the existing box gutter. «The roof still functions as a roof below the garden and as such collects leaves and debris,» says Ryan Healy, project director. Removable grid mesh panels in the floor surface provide access for maintenance, and also serve as striking architectural features.

The roof was designed and engineered to float over the existing perimeter masonry walls and roof below so as not to compromise the flashing and waterproofing of the existing structure. There was also the issue of R-codes regarding the neighbour’s privacy as the deck overlooked the surrounding area. Compliance with the codes was achieved with the addition of frosted glass.

Construction wise, access to the roof was difficult as there was limited space down the side of the house to the rear of the subdivided property. «It was preferable not to bring a crane down the driveway due to the potential damage it could cause,» explains Ryan.

The structural components of the roof garden were therefore fabricated and constructed completely off-site, then dismantled and transported to the site, and man-handled into position for fit-off. «Phase3 and its sub-contract team delivered a beautifully finished result that enhanced the usability and functionality of the space while complementing the existing building as per the design intent,» says Ryan in terms of the finished result. «The client was wrapped.»

After the design and construction phases were complete, the owner had an attractive working vegetable garden and outdoor room space from which to enjoy the stunning harbour views.

The sleek planter boxes brimming with plantings add a softening and vibrant burst of colour to the deck and surrounds. The planter boxes are GRC (glass-reinforced concrete), made to look like weathered steel, and were custom-designed for the project. A painted hot-dip galvanised-steel PFC fascia to match the existing roof awnings, as well as glass screening, were incorporated to complement the adjacent alfresco area and existing screening.

The grid mesh was used on the deck for both aesthetic and practical reasons and is paired with timber decking to complement the cedar lining of the existing entertaining space.

The end result is a perfectly functional and stylish modern outdoor area that blends beautifully with the existing design, so much so that it’s hard to believe the deck area wasn’t part of the original house design. «The design intent and materiality were to produce a result that appeared to have always been there,» Ryan concludes.

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