Where to find nature in the city: Roof gardens in Metro Manila
We live in an urban jungle of concrete, smoke, traffic, and train lines that fail us. It sounds really bad, but what’s even worse is we’ve gotten used to all these things, when in fact, we deserve much better.
Sustainable architecture is the direction we should all aspire to, and bland, resource-intensive buildings are not the way of the future. In a world where everyone is becoming more aware of climate change and its effects on countries like the Philippines, people have gone to great lengths to create new ways to make our lives less of a strain on Mother Nature.
But where do we place plants when almost all of Metro Manila’s idle lands are barren or covered in concrete? Why, rooftops, of course. Sustainable architecture is still in its infancy here in Manila, but the city is a potential market for it.
“We see the Philippines as the next up and coming market to embrace green roofs and sky gardens as a next trend in architecture,” Ho Wan Weng of Verditecture told Manila Bulletin. Verditecture is a Singapore-based green roof consultancy firm.
In 2009, the local government of Quezon City passed an ordinance that sets “green” standards for public structures to become environment-friendly. Landscape architects and business owners are moving inch by inch toward more environment-friendly operations by creating these hidden, tiny parcels of paradise. The rooftops of these buildings are the modern-day Hanging Gardens of Babylon, providing the much-needed greenery in the grays and blacks of the metropolis.
Pasig City Hall
The 2,000-square meter roofdeck of the Pasig City Hall was once a bulk of concrete “that toasted in the sun.”
“We could not grow large trees so we resorted to membrane roofs for shade,” PGAA Creative Design, the company in charge of greening the City Hall’s rooftop, said in a Facebook post.
“However, we did find opportunities for lawns and shrubs using green roof technology and creative planning of spaces.”
Makati City Hall Building 2
This building has brought the Binay clan a lot of trouble because overpricing allegations. But you’ve got to admit, the gardens are quite impressive.
SM North EDSA Sky Garden
The second biggest mall in the Philippines is also one of the pioneers of green roofs in Metro Manila, with its 400-square meter Sky Garden. Man-made ponds, waterfalls, fountains, and 55 various species of plants line the walkway of establishments that connects to the three main parts of the mall.
SM Aura Premier Sky Park
Like the SM North EDSA Sky Garden, the Sky Park is scattered with various species of plants. It also houses the egg-shaped Samsung Hall, an events space also similar to SM North Edsa’s SkyDome.
A photo posted by Edmund Libres Dizon (@dmnddzn) on
Every floor in TriNoma has its own Hanging Garden, allowing shoppers and diners to eat in an al fresco setup, but the garden at the topmost floor is the biggest one in the mall. The flowing water and various plants make It a perfect example of a usable open space because of the volume of people just chilling about.
Greenbelt 5’s roofdeck was AyalaLand’s testing grounds for the company’s green roof plans in their upcoming projects. Unlike the gardens set on top of malls with restaurants nearby, Greenbelt 5’s garden is a lush expanse of uninterrupted green grass that also serves as an insulator that keeps the mall’s interiors cooler.
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement building in QC
Established in 1952, PPRM is one of the first NGOs that provides livelihood education to rural folk. The roof of their headquarters in Mother Ignacia Avenue isn’t just a place for normal garden plants, but it’s also an agricultural garden.
Henry Sy, Sr. Hall in De La Salle University
The newest building on the Green side of Taft Avenue is literally green as well. Also known as the Centennial Building, it has “a green roof, solar panels, a rainwater collection system, and a water re-use system.” Aside from their rooftop garden, they also have cozy indoor garden study halls that make studying for exams more inspiring.