Phoenix Rooftop

Architects Bent Architecture
Location: Australia, Melbourne
Year: 2017
Area: 45 m2
Photographs: Dianna Snape

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.

“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

31657 EatingArea
Image by Dianna Snape

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

31652 ViewtowardsEast
Image by Dianna Snape

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.

31649 ViewfromBatmanA
Image by Dianna Snape

“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

31658 ResidentBees
Image by Dianna Snape

Sustainability Features

Visible to thousands of office-workers every day, this project is a billboard for rooftop gardens. The message reads, ‘our buildings can be greener, both literally and figuratively’.

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.

31664 ViewfromEast
Image by Dianna Snape

Beyond helping to mitigate the urban heat island effect and insulating its owners’ apartment, Phoenix Rooftop achieves a number of other environmental sustainability outcomes. Raised garden beds improve air quality through absorption of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen and, in association with permeable paving (recycled river pebbles), help to absorb, slow and filter stormwater runoff. The planting encourages biodiversity in this densely urban environment, including creating a valuable habitat for birds and bees (a surprising sight to witness so high up). Recycled tallow wood and blackbutt are utilised in the material palette. Our clients are even experimenting by trying to create a productive garden – an urban farm – by tending to numerous herbs and a crop of tomatoes in the sky.

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