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Published: 4 July 2011

The sky’s the limit: first Australian green roof guide

John Rayner

While green roofs and green walls are relatively new in Australia, internationally they are more than just
a ‘growth industry’.

Living Architecture: Green Roofs and Walls
Graeme Hopkins & Christine Goodwin
CSIRO Publishing
2011, Paperback
ISBN: 9780643096639 – AU$84.95

Last year in the USA, the area covered by green roofs expanded by 28.5 per cent, a sizeable increase from the 16 per cent recorded in 2009 (see, 29 March 2011 media release).

Until now European and North American publications have dominated the available literature. Living Architecture, authored by partners Graeme Hopkins and Christine Goodwin from Fifth Creek Studio in South Australia, is the first Australasian green roofs and walls reference.

With an impressive layout and some useful illustrations to guide the reader, the book is based around eleven chapters, including areas such as context and classifications, benefits and drivers, design principles, case studies, planting design guidelines, creating open space and research/advocacy.

Perhaps the most useful are those that discuss the increasing evidence that is leading to an expansion of green roofs across the globe: Benefits and drivers (Chapter 2) and Tackling climate change (Chapter 9). The two case study chapters (Chapter 4 Green Roofs, Chapter 5 Living Walls) are particularly relevant to local readers as they describe 38 different living architecture projects across Australia and New Zealand, covering aspects of location and context, drivers, design, materials, plants and construction details.

The final two chapters of the book provide a useful conclusion as they promote green roofs and green walls through contributions from government, from research and development, and through advocacy and capacity building.

This reviewer has some disagreement with some of the definitions used and the content of the some of the case studies presented. However, these don’t detract from what is a very readable and well researched text.

Living Architecture provides an excellent overview of the main considerations and challenges in design, construction and implementation of green roofs and green walls in Australia and New Zealand and is an important contribution to the advancement of this emerging industry.

John Rayner is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Horticulture at the University of Melbourne and is part of the green roofs research team at its Burnley Campus.

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