by Neometro

The Rooftop: Developing The Last Urban Frontier

Architecture, Ideas - by Open Journal
  • Rooftop at Jewell Station by NEOMETRO.

    Rooftop at Jewell Station by NEOMETRO.

As our urban centers grow ever denser we are beginning to see a huge acceleration in the demand for developed rooftop space in multi-residential developments. 

Until a few years ago, Melbourne’s rooftops were a virtually untapped resource when it came to adding outdoor space to residential property. However, with a plethora of uses, the humble rooftop is quickly being recognised as a highly desirable additional space with a staggering amount of potential uses. 

Artist impression of Melbourne’s rooftop green spaces. Image courtesy of City of Melbourne

Commercial enterprises have been on to the rooftop idea for a while. Melbourne’s urban centres are dotted with rooftop bars, cinema’s and communal meeting spaces and, as a city, we have heartily embraced them. With their usability extending across a large part of the year, thanks to Australia’s relatively temperate climate, the only thing that has kept us from harnessing rooftop space in the past is the luxury we have enjoyed in terms of available land…until now.  The view is one thing, the lucrative nature of additional space in built-up areas is not to be sneezed at. Residentially we are only just beginning to see the value in conquering this last urban frontier for its desirability as a functional, communal space to be enjoyed in a multitude of ways by the inhabitants residing in apartments below, as well as vastly improving the aesthetic of our urban sprawl.

QT Rooftop Melbourne. Image via Concrete Playground.

As small-scale, design-focused multi-residential developments continue to rise in value and demand, the architects and developers behind them are recognising the growing value in providing communal rooftop gardens as an amenity to their buildings. This aspect of a development is fast becoming as fixed an expectation for prospective buyers as off street parking. 

In 2014, Domain published a piece that touted the rise of the rooftop, claiming the provision of amenities accessible within this space didn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. In the 4 years since,  the trend has spilled out into the urban fringe with functional green spaces being increasingly incorporated into new apartment builds.

As apartments become more affordable (and hence desirable) than the single family home, more and more young families are seeking options that still provide full amenity conducive to family life. Outdoor space is high on the list and with building footprints becoming increasingly smaller, the rooftop can provide a vast wonderland promising space, connection with neighbours and an increased usable area inside apartments when things like laundry facilities and occupant storage spaces are moved out of the apartments proper and relocated upwards. 

Aside from the obvious spatial plus’s that come with the provision of a developed communal rooftop space, occupants that make their homes within multi-residential buildings boasting accessible finished rooftops are also basking in the emotional and physical wellbeing that these green spaces offer. Melbourne’s rooftops are suddenly providing opportunities to grow produce that can be accessed and used in kitchens below, to connect with neighbours and support interaction and social flourishing, and to incorporate functional areas that were previously spatial challenged (BBQ facilities for example). All this ensures numerous benefits to general mental wellbeing and flip residences from being referred to as “apartments” to instead being “homes.”

Roofop gardens and amenities provide residents with direct access to ample outdoor space, air, sunshine…factors have only loosely been part of the vocabulary of developers in these terms before and its high time (pardon the pun) they were acknowledged and prioritised in the design and build of our multi-residential developments. 

Words by Tiffany Jade.


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