A roof top garden in the city centre of Birmingham has been proven to contribute towards student health & wellbeing.
Onyx, a 1025-bedroom student accommodation project developed, designed and built by McAleer & Rushe, was targeted to- and has achieved- BREEAM “very good”. Part of the BREEAM achievement is directly attributable to the green roof and landscaped roof garden, attaining points in three of the five categories- Health & Wellbeing, Resource & Energy and Land Use & Ecology.
Located in Lancaster Circus, Onyx features two towers, 13 and 24 storeys respectively, connected by a ten-storey link. The scheme features an artificial grass area and paving on the top 24th floor and a similar grassed area, paved walkway, cobbles, planters and sedum green roof atop the ten-storey building, both supplied and installed by Eco Green Roofs Ltd (EGR) on behalf of waterproofing contractor Able Waterproofing. EGR also supplied and applied their bespoke soil to planters across the ground level courtyard.
The roof terrace was designed to a detailed specification, with angular areas reflecting the design aesthetics of the residential structures. Behind the enclosing glass screen, EGR created the asymetrical layout using a combination of pebbles, flagstones and ornamental bark between sections of artificial grass and plant beds encompassing low and medium height specimen shrubs, hedging and specimen trees. The trees were carefully planted and anchored to ensure they withstand wind loading at height.
EGR SB+ Sedum Blanket Green Roof System was installed, the first component fitted was the EGR DBR20 cuspated drainage board, added EGR F filter layer and then completed with the surface using EGR Extensive Substrate overlaid with EGR Sedum Blanket on coir matting. Sedum green roofs offer an aesthetically vibrant finish, offering colour all year round. EGR’s system has a high water-holding capacity due to the EGR drainage/retention boards and the EGF specialist substrate. Sedums are succulents which hold water within their form which further enhances this system’s performance. This helps mitigate urbanised flooding. Sedum blankets specifically offer at least 90% coverage from install, delivering instant effect and helping prevent invasive species from bedding during initial establishment.
James Foster, Director at Able Waterproofing, explained:
“The client brief was very exact and comprehensive to deliver due to the central city location. From experience that we could rely on Eco Green Roofs to deliver the green roof and hard landscaping efficiently and professionally, giving us a single point of contact for both, differing elements”
Added John Higgins, Project Manager for McAleer & Rushe:
“Under Birmingham’s Design Plan, ‘developments need to be supported by suitable green and social infrastructure’, so inclusion of green elements within the Onyx scheme was key to our ability to develop the project. The green roof and landscaping were also part of the BREEAM criteria. Their delivery, to specification, by Eco Green Roofs, was a fundamental element in achieving the BREEAM very good target for the scheme. Most importantly it delivered a living environment for students that, despite its highly urbanised setting still gives them a welcoming outdoor space on-site to relax beside nature.”