Rooftop Gardening

Container gardening is the ultimate form of urban greening: space-efficient, low-maintenance and productive. People in Hong Kong have been doing it for generations.

Last summer, on a sunny but oppressively hot day, I found myself on the roof of a 1960s-era highrise apartment building in Kwun Tong. Among the lines of billowing laundry were several clusters of potted plants maintained by the building’s residents. Though most were decorative plants, there were some fruits being grown, including kumquats and tomatoes. Anyone interested in growing their own herbs or vegetables could have easily done so.

Unfortunately, informal rooftop gardens like this are set to become a rarity. The Kwun Tong building on which these photos were taken will be demolished next year for a massive redevelopment project. Newer buildings tend to have smaller roof areas and no room for plants. My building has just two flats per floor, for example, which makes for a very small roof, most of which taken up by stairwell entrances and an elevator machine room. Even if I tried to start a container garden up there, it’d probably be cleared away by the building management.

The government is pushing developers to include green features in new developments. The public housing authority, whose buildings house more than a third of Hong Kong’s population, is experimenting with green roofs, vertical greening and community gardens. But there’s something to be said for giving people a bit of empty space and letting them do what they want with it.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Monday December 28 2009at 02:12 pm , filed under Architecture, Asia Pacific, Environment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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