Nothing beats spending time in the great outdoors, getting in touch with nature, letting the little kid inside us run free. For many of us city folk though, we seldom get the opportunity, with the reality of a job, study and/or family responsibilities leaving little time for us to enjoy what nature has to offer. That’s why the recent trend of ‘junglefying our cities’ is so exciting, and with the technical advancements in living infrastructure, no rooftop is safe from going green. .

As major cities continue to face issues related to high-density living and a rapidly growing population, many owners and developers are looking to the sky. Rooftops provide the perfect space for plants and ‘junglefication’, something that often gets lost in the chaos of increasing urbanisation. Plants and rooftops are like bread and butter, they just go together. The reasons why are endless.

Plants clean the air 

First and foremost, plants are natural air cleaners. They have the incredible ability to filter particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, meaning cleaner, healthier and more breathable air for everyone. The Growing Green Guide, a recent publication developed by industry experts, stated that “as urban populations continue to grow… it is projected that the concentration of pollutants such as ozone and fine particulate matter will also rise”.

Plants help to reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect 

Rapid population growth and urban development have led to the creation of areas known as “urban heat islands”; areas that are uncharacteristically warm due to the heat generated and retained by the surrounding infrastructure and industry. It is in these dense, urban centres where ‘greened’ rooftops, home to an abundance of plants, can create advantageous microclimates that benefit the health and wellbeing of the locals.

Plants can enhance the aesthetic of a previously unused space 

Converting previously unused spaces, such as rooftops, into comfortable, inviting areas is made that much easier with the addition of plants. Fully-accessible rooftops, many of which are located in highly populated areas, can become a relaxing little green oasis in the middle of the fast-paced, hustle and bustle of the busy city, with plants connecting high-rise infrastructure with street-level green spaces.

The benefits of plants on rooftops don’t end there. They can provide a source of urban food production and urban farming, they can improve the thermal performance of a building and they can provide a natural sound barrier, which is particularly significant for “entertaining” rooftops, such as bars and pubs, located in highly residential areas where neighbours need to be respected.

Recently, we have seen rooftop gardens popping up all over Australia, with some of the most well-known examples including Brisbane’s new Lady Cilento Hospital, Prince Alfred Park Pool Green Roof and the Burnley Living Roofs at Melbourne University. Historically, green roofs have been either extensive or intensive, and largely inaccessible to the general public. Whilst these roofs provide many of the aforementioned environmental benefits, the fact that people can’t access the rooftop means they are missing out on the wonderful health benefits plants provide. As waterproofing and irrigation technology has evolved, and the longevity and durability of green roofs has increased, we are seeing more and more variations of the traditional green roof being installed. The opportunities created by technological developments have led to the recent surge in public rooftop gardens and green walls being installed in rooftop spaces, such as bars and restaurants, which are accessible to those living in our increasingly urbanised cities.

High-density urban areas provide perfect opportunities for living infrastructure, such as green walls and roofs, and we cannot wait to Junglefy more rooftop spaces and encourage a deeper appreciation for plants as an integral component of the built environment.