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Tag Archive for 'Green Roof'

How does a rather excellent real ale and the UK’s largest sedum roof go together?

adnams_distributecentre

I recently saw a very large and impressive sedum roof at the Wildfowl and Wetlands site at Martin Mere, Lancashire. It got me wondering who can lay claim to having the largest sedum roof in the UK?

I felt sure it would be housed somewhere like the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth (Wales) or maybe one of the large regenerative building schemes undertaken over the last few years for eco-friendly social housing or public buildings?

I did find a few nice examples of sedum and regular green roof schemes:

Certainly quite a number of educational buildings such as St. Martins-in-the-field Girls’ School, London roof and one at Cambridge University plus many new build schools across the country.

The well-known Eden Project has a small green roof, the most picturesque I could find was the Gallie Craig Coffee Shop, Drummore, Scotland. Wow, I SO want a hot beverage there now! :-)

gallie_craig_coffee_shop

Sometimes the choice to create a green roof was by necessity, such as the restaurant within St. James Park, London; any design for the new roof there had to blend in with the surrounding parkland or it would not gain planning permission.

An award-winning illustration on my doorstep here in Manchester is the Norman Foster designed scheme called Budenberg HAUS which has 4,500 square metres of green roof sited on the edge of Altrincham overlooking the Bridgewater Canal.

budenburg_haus1

The largest UK green roof (not wholly sedum) is at the Rolls Royce factory near Chichester which has a huge roof space measured at 40,000 square metres.

Eventually after a fascinating journey delving into various schemes I found a winner … and a real-ale brewery at that! Any real-ale fans will have heard of Champion Beer Brewers Adnams who are based on the Suffolk Coast in Southwold. In 2005 beer sales were up and faced with this growing demand they realised that a new distribution centre was required.

Adnams website lists their environmental goals “We aim to manage our impact positively on the social, natural, and built environment” and on this newbuild project they certainly went for it, not only creating the UK’s biggest sedum living roof but also building the Centre predominently from bricks formed using locally-grown hemp, lime and chalk.

These building materials certainly earn green brownie points (sorry I couldn’t resist!) but they also add effective functionality. Acting rather like a cellar, it maintains a steady 11 degrees celsius temperature within the warehouse, and means there is no need for expensive air-conditioning units. Heating for the offices is provided by solar panels. Though the initial build for the scheme was higher than a conventional approach, is has meant running costs are nearly half what they were at the Brewers smaller previous warehouse. So in the long term it will result in a considerable cost saving.
sedumroof

The roof itself is predominently sedum. These low maintenance, fleshy, thick skinned succulents have excellent insulation properties and also help filter out air pollutants. The plants are low maintenance and usually require no artificial irrigation, they absorb sound (useful in an urban environment) and can provide a habitat for birds and wildlife. The Adnams planting scheme also included regional wildflowers and wild grasses to supplement the sedum and to blend more naturally with local flora.

However, Adnams may soon be knocked off the top of their green perch. Work is ongoing on a scheme in Hemel Hempstead for a new Indoor Ski Centre. The sedum roof here will be a jaw-dropping 21,500 square metres and is set to open in the summer of 2009.

I have rather skirted over the pioneering use of the hemp and lime bricks on this project, but that is only because I am planning a longer post on this Stone Age plant and it’s modern applications in the very near future.

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Creative Studio sharing … a Danish example but it needs a green roof!

Maybe one day I will dabble in a bit of studio sharing. I often think it sounds like a stimulating and fun environment to work within, different creative skillsets all housed in one building with the possibility of collaboration plus the practical benefits of sharing facilities. Whilst savouring the wonderful design work on the bloesem site, I discovered a successful creative workspace enterprise called ‘Lynfabrikken’ (the lightning factory) based in Denmark.
I suppose the closest thing we have here in Manchester would be The Craft and Design Centre but it rents out only small units and does not have the space to attract photographers/musicians/film-makers. Maybe Islington Mill has the potential to grow into something bigger, though the Danish example seems to have a more central location and therefore the ability to morph itself into trendy cafe, place to be seen plus a gallery and performance venue. Lynfabrikken is open to the public with opportunities to buy and view unique work and provides a meeting spot for all the creative tenants and their clients.
I shall carry on with my idealised daydream for the Perfect Studio ….
Of course it would have to utilise all roof space, maybe a green living roof similar to the Unicorn Grocery roof project in Chorlton, their site has a live web-cam (you can actually control the camera movements!).
The Unicorn scheme provides a green escape for their employees and was designed specifically to attract the rare black redstart, a bird happy in the urban environment but rapidly disappearing from the UK. There have been reports of at least one breeding pair of these birds this summer in the centre of Manchester (near the CIS building) so maybe they will wing their way over to Unicorn one day soon.

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