While useful and efficient in packing away a lot of cars, parking garages aren't the most attractive feature adorning today's urban landscape. On top of their often unsightly appearance, these garages also soak up a lot of heat during the day contributing to urban heat island effect. But as Houston-based Intexure will tell you, there are certainly ways to improve on their design, particularly by transforming the rooftop of each garage into a public garden space. Recently revamped, the Houston Medical Center was once dull and unattractive with a parking garage rooftop, but now finds itself hosting a tranquil oasis and meditative garden for patients and their families to find quiet respite.
The 6,000 sf garden is divided into textural zones, with each serving as a distinct open or enclosed space for group meetings and quiet contemplation. A white tensile structure in the center gives way to seating underneath and provides an area for gathering. Nearby, lounge chairs set in a zen-like pebble garden offer up individual seating for those seeking solitude. Bamboo planted in a circle makes for a quiet outdoor room, while a drought tolerant turf lawn can become an impromptu yoga field or a place to bask in the sun.
Plants in the garden are contained by 46″ rooftop trays, and individual species were selected with respect to their ability to tolerate drought conditions. The garden features the butterfly iris, purple foundation grass, horsetail and bermuda grass.
Apart from the obvious health benefits of a garden, the green roof also reduces stormwater runoff, protects from solar heat gain, purifies the air, and provides a natural habitat and urban refuge for birds in the Texas flyway.
Patients of the hospital, their families and visitors can all relax on the rooftop garden and step away from whatever ails them inside the hospital. Handicapped accessible ramps and walkways make allow anyone to make their way through the garden with ease. And even though the hospital is located in the middle of the city, the garden is set high enough from the street to offer a true slice of peace.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
Green roofs such as this one provide a number of environmental benefits: they reduce the urban heat island effect, insulate interior spaces, and help to reduce stormwater runoff.