As our urban environments become denser and denser, those traditional features of residential dwellings that used to be taken for granted – for instance, vegetable gardens – disappear. Aside from the negative impact this dwindling of green space has on communities, it also comes at an exceptionally bad time for the environment; a time wherein sustainable architectural practice and eco-friendly living is becoming more crucial than ever.
Thankfully, architects such as those at Damian Rogers are emerging as champions in the race to innovate. For instance, Damian Rogers’ Leaf House in Melbourne tackles the problem of yard space by utilising the roof as an edible garden.
The brief from residents was to provide new living, dining and kitchen spaces to the existing house; a challenge made more difficult by the tight heritage controls on the home and surrounding streetscape. It was also important to the client to incorporate a fully-fledged vegetable garden into the limited space.
“The extension reconnects the dwelling with nature, from the play of sunlight filtered by the trees to the glazed roof which connects the interior to the external landscape,” reads a statement from the architect. “Inspired by the client to live sustainably, it was essential to give back to the landscape what would be lost. The roof is utilised as an edible garden, adding a deep, intrinsic soul to the space.”
“Beyond the building’s function, it also seeks to inspire a lifestyle choice of sustainability through the connection and inspiration of its contextual landscape. The angled glass blurs the lines between the roof and walls, to continually enhance the visual connection with the garden at both levels.
“Reconnecting with nature will inspire sustainability.”
The most distinguished feature of the extension is the abstracted roof form made of off-form concrete, Corten steel and glass. While respecting the heritage dwelling and streetscape, the geometric roof adds new and contemporary interest to the site. The angular form itself is a reference to the nature focus of the site, and lends the project its name – Leaf House.
“The bold form of the extension linking the two existing buildings has been abstracted from the existing roof forms,” says the architect. “The play of sunlight filtered by the trees embraces the building as part of the landscape. The glazed roof floats as if it were a leaf on a tree branch and connects the interior to the external landscape, capturing views of the trees and sky. The dwelling will continually change with the landscape.
“The solution was to extract from the existing roof forms to create an angular structure that leans towards the existing heritage house. The angular form both respects the heritage house while standing alone as a separate object. The roof top vegetable garden resolved the lack of backyard space and also visually connected it to the dwelling interior.”
Clearly, the execution of the brief was a success. “The owners rarely buy vegetables these days,” says the architect.