The Rooftop Garden Hall of Fame

Aesthetics aside, rooftop gardens are highly beneficial to urban areas. They regulate temperature inside their buildings using organic means, absorb carbon emissions from traffic below, provide ecosystem habitats for local plant and animal life, and reduce the ‘heat island effect’ caused by abundant black-tar roofs. This green trend has taken off in recent years all over the world. Here are some of our favorite examples:

Acros Fukuoka Building
Location: Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Why it’s great: From one side, this structure appears to be nothing more than an ordinary office building. However, the other approach reveals a spectacular series of elevated terraces that are home to more than 35,000 plants from 76 different species. In addition, the Acros Fukuoka gardens significantly reduce energy consumption of the entire building and capture a large amount of rainwater runoff that is recycled back into the building’s non-potable water supply.


City Hall Rooftop Garden
Location: Chicago
Why it’s great: Chicago leads the United States with more than 7 million square feet of green roof space; 600 new projects were launched in 2010 alone. Erected in 2000 by order of Mayor Richard M. Daley, the city’s best-known rooftop garden is the expansive display that sits atop Chicago City Hall. The garden is home to 20,000 native flowers, trees, and vines, which collectively reduce the ‘heat island’ effect caused by black-tar roofs and regulate temperature inside the building using less energy.


Punggol Roof Garden
Location: Singapore
Why it’s great: In a 2005 poll, more than 80 percent of Singapore’s 5.2 million residents supported city plans to install more rooftop gardens within the metropolitan area. So leave it to the Singaporeans to install a display this eye-popping on top of a parking garage. The garden, which spans 216,000 square feet, was completed nearly 10 years ago – yet it remains one of the world’s standout rooftop displays. 

Vancouver Convention Centre
Location: British Columbia
Why it’s great: Most rooftop gardens are measured in square feet, but the VCC boasts a green roof that spans a massive six acres and supports thousands of indigenous plants and trees – as well as an on-site beekeeping operation. The building also features a fish habitat built into the foundation, and was the first convention center in the world to receive ‘Platinum’ LEED certification.

Location: Darmstadt, Germany
Why it’s great: This eye-catching apartment building was the brainchild of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist known for eccentric designs – and a pioneer of sustainable retrofits. Named for the garden on top of the diagonal roof that switches back from the top floor and leads to an onion dome tower, Waldspirale (which translates to ‘forest spiral’) was completed the same year he died.

By Brad Nehring