Despite the premium placed on real estate in our overcrowded cities, one space remains woefully underutilized: the roof. And we’re not just talking about installing green roofs and urban farms but finding creative ways to spruce up the stretches of tar and concrete that top off our skylines. The Danish firm Julien de Smedt (JDS) Architects? rooftop shows what can be done with a little imagination: A rolling playground atop a turn-of-the-century building in Copenhagen’s multiethnic district of Nørrebro.
Nørrebro’s dense population means that its courtyards tend to be narrow and cramped, as is the case with this residential block. JDS Architects? idea was to create a “missing garden” above a new set of three penthouse apartments (also designed by the firm), thereby creating a dynamic pocket park for the “delight of all the co-op’s residents” as well as its neighbors. Not only is there a grassy hill with curved steps but a wooden deck, a playground (with a shock-absorbent surface), and a suspension bridge — all safely fenced in along the building’s perimeter. The budget for the penthouses and the nearly 10,000-square-foot roof: a reasonable $1.35 million.
The project points to the multifarious ways we can maximize what, in a recent post, Perkins+Will’s Karen Alschuler refers to as the fifth façade. By now, we’re familiar with the environmental benefits of green roofs, but here’s another incentive: the simple pleasure of experiencing the outdoors without leaving home.