Green roofs may be a newer phenomenon in many places, but Norwegians have been planting greenery atop their houses for hundreds of years. Some have flowers mixed in with grass, creating a lush garden that just happens to keep the house below well insulated. The verdant roofs have many advantages, from maintaining regular temperatures within the dwellings to actually stabilizing the houses themselves.
Green roofs have become a long-standing tradition in Norway, and it’s not common to see them dotting the country’s landscape—or in this case, essentially melding with the landscape. During the Viking and Middle Ages most houses had sod roofs, and they were almost universal until the beginning of the 18th century. Tile roofs, which appeared much earlier in towns and manor homes, gradually superseded sod roofs during the 19th century, except in remote inland areas.
While the tradition declined and almost became extinct with the introduction of corrugated iron and other industrial materials, steadfast national romantics revived the older tradition. The renaissance of green roofs was also boosted by a growing interest in open-air museums, mountain retreats, vacation homes, and the preservation movement. In turn, many cultural and commercial institutions have integrated these roofs into the core of their design as an alternative to modern materials.
Every year, since 2000, the board of the Scandinavian Green Roof Association has granted an award to the best green roof project in the region.