Homes with living roofs

Carpets of green have topped dwellings since ancient times. If you believe the legend, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon blanketed an entire palace in exotic greenery. And during the Viking days, sod roofs made of earth were all the rage.

Once a relic of earlier civilizations, living rooftops are blooming once more, albeit with modern technologies like irrigation and drainage systems — eco-friendly alternatives to materials like asphalt or tile.


“You have to have a bit of a green thumb,” said Katy Brahler, who along with husband, Gary, “wanted to go as green as we could,” when they hired Cleveland architect Robert Maschke to renovate their three-bedroom cottage near Lake Erie a little over two years ago.

The Brahlers aren’t alone. The green roof market alone grew by 115% last year, according to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a not-for-profit organization touting the benefits of turf roofing.

And there are many: according to the EPA, green roofs insulate, filter pollution, reduce storm water run-off, and naturally cool the air, reducing what’s known as the “heat island effect.”

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Here are four homes that put green roofs to spectacular use.

Meera Sky Garden House, Singapore

The top roof of this modern home on the island of Sentosa (adjacent to the main island Singapore) is slow growing and easy to maintain carpet grass but still keeps the residence cool, according to Guz Wilkinson of Guz Architects. Wilkinson designed the home in a new development where the plots are not large and homes are built close together.

A solid wall provides privacy to each side and the home's layered effect makes each story feel like a single-story dwelling with a private outdoor garden.

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