Phoenix Rooftop is a green refuge in the unlikeliest of places - 30-storeys high, on an exposed, yet spectacular site in the heart of Melbourne. This garden in the sky allows two down-sizing professionals to retain the joy of outdoor living as they transition from the suburbs to the city.
Arrchitect: BENT Architecture
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Size: 45 m2
Horticulturalist: Infinite Landscape
Builder: MRU Construction
Structural Engineer: Clive Steele Partners
Photography: Dianna Snape
From the architect: Our clients wanted their rooftop garden to provide functional areas akin to a typical suburban garden, but in a uniquely exposed, overlooked (and lofty) site. To achieve this, the site is divided into three distinct, yet connected zones: one for standing (cocktail in hand, raising a toast to the sunset), another for sitting (book over your face in the sun), and one for outdoor eating (BBQing a meal for family and friends under the stars). Raised garden beds, bedazzled with delicate mosaics and filled with fragrant and flowering plants, define each zone while acting as both balustrade and wind break; the coloured tiles, green, white, yellow and blue, an abstraction of the garden itself. A sculptural steel arbour dances overhead, supporting the canopy of an unwieldy creeper; shielding and protecting the garden and its occupants, responding to each zone's relative need for privacy, sunlight, and protection from the wind and rain.
"Bees buzz by, collecting the pollen needed to make their urban honey. Even the odd bird takes shelter on this highest of perches." BN
Rooftop gardens are still an experimental science — particularly 30-storeys high, in one of Melbourne's most exposed sites. To our knowledge, this is the highest rooftop garden attempted in Melbourne, and is an innovative example of the ongoing and important investigation into the potential of green roofs in our cities. Visible to thousands of office-workers every day, this project is a billboard for environmental sustainability. The message reads, 'our buildings can be greener, both literally and figuratively'. To us, creating functional, beautiful and liveable rooftop gardens is an important part of social sustainability, improving on the environmental outcomes green roofs alone can provide. Green roofs should be designed to be enjoyed and experienced by people.
"Swing open the door, climb just one flight of stairs and you are transported to a secret garden in the sky." Brodie Norris, Lunchbox Media
"The lights are on at the MCG; must be a game on tonight. Rowers glide by on the Yarra; the count of the cox not audible from this height. Acres of the Botanical Garden's lush green bleed into the grey of St Kilda Road's office towers and apartments. People, the size of ants, gather at Federation Square, like it's the site of a sticky spill of soft drink. At Flinders Street Station, the ant-people rush in and out of their yellow and green mound, working busily for their queen. Shimmering in the distance are the calm waters of the bay and the distant beaches of summertime holidays. Surrounded by the tangle of this surreal secret garden makes this incredible view even more breath-taking." BN
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