Auckland City Library Green Roof - Natural Habitats | ArchiPro

Auckland City Library Green Roof

Partnering with Auckland City Council and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Natural Habitats was appointed to bring the Auckland Central Library roof to life.

With the library building dating back to the 1970s, it was time for repair work to be carried out on the roof. Auckland Council saw the opportunity to install plants as an alternative top layer to the usual stone ballast.

As the largest example on a council-owned building, the council engaged Natural Habitats to work with local iwi to design, eco-source native plants and install a green roof. The green roof was required to reflect the ecology of the area, pre-development and thrive in the extremes of the seasons.

Natural Habitats responded to the brief with its bespoke eco-pillow system. Comprising an impressive 560 eco-pillows, these special planters measure 1000 x 500 x 120 mm and are the lightest green roof solution on the market. Being made from recycled polystyrene from Auckland’s waste stream, along with a special mix of growing media, plants can thrive at heights without the structural reinforcing which other green roofs require.

The impact on the environment for a project of this scale is significant. Green roofs filter air pollutants, help to reduce temperatures, mitigate storm water runoff, and help to regulate the internal temperature of the building amongst many other benefits.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei completed the planting design, referencing a pattern known as “poutama” representing education, progress, and ascension. “It pays homage to the library as a place where people seek education, progress and ascension into greater knowledge and understanding,” says Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei artist Hinengarangi Makoare.

A project of this scale did not come without its challenges, being plagued by COVID-19 delays and seasonal extremes. Due to the delays, planting was pushed into the long dry summer of 2022 where young plants are challenged by lengthy sunlight hours. Due to the roof having loading limits, plants and materials were craned up in palettes in particular timings and quantities.

As the roof grows in, a range of benefits will be monitored, reported on and shared publicly to help others learn from this project. Natural Habitats will proudly complete the maintenance of this roof, caring for the plants and ensuring the integrity of the building waterproofing membrane and systems.

Special thanks to Bryan Lowe, Auckland Council for the photos.

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Watch the key people behind the project talk about the roof's significance in the industry, and for Te Ao Māori.