The Eye of the Fish

September 13, 2012

Green Roof

Following on from the last post about Fashion, we all know that Green is the new black. Actually, it has been Green for a few years now, so beige is probably the new green, and possibly puce is the new beige as well, but anyhow: yes, well: Green roofs are certainly IN right now. And green walls. But first of all: the best picture of a green roof that I have ever seen:

Isn’t that luscious?
So often now you see ever hopeful architects planting some pathetic little clumps of sebum, in about 100mm of dirt, weighted down with pebbles (of a size carefully selected that they don’t blow off). But that’s not a Green green roof – that’s a pathetic little woosy attempt at being green, without really committing. I mean, look at that house up above – now THAT is commitment! Think of that tiny carbon footprint! Envy at the credits from the ETS that will be racking up, as the rafters slowly cave in…

Alternatively, of course, you could have a green wall. Now, that’s even more difficult. Basically, as they have found out in the Manawatu Gorge, green stuff doesn’t like to grow vertically up walls, and when made to do so, it mainly falls down again. Green walls take an awful lot of work to keep them looking good. The French manage it, of course, but then the French specialise in looking good under the most extreme circumstances. Here, quite surprisingly, is a luscious green wall in New Zealand. Its not even dead yet!

13 - 09 - 12

Perhaps this is a cunning way to get us to think about

Hundertwasser Arts Centre struggling for funding in the Penniless North. Len Lye Centre flying into flak in the Wild West. Is the big bang era of museum building coming to an end?

14 - 09 - 12


14 - 09 - 12

Interestingly, notwithstanding local authority restraints and the gravitational pull of Christchurch rebuild projects, some of the traditional sources of funding for big box culture and heritage sites are still there. The Lottery Grants Board particularly is still trending up for example.

Have we (re)built all the museums we need, or is there still scope for the triumphalism of civic vanity projects like the Auckland Museum and Gallery? Is the appetite for big modernist temples of visual culture still there? Perhaps the Hundertwasser proposal would be more popular on the streets of Whangarei if it looked like this…

14 - 09 - 12

“Is the big bang era of museum building coming to an end?”


Museum building is too closely associated with the deification of the ‘object’ in material/consumer culture – aligned with both capitalism and modernism – i.e. largely a 20th century phenomenom.

Punters are now increasingly looking to the internet as the fountain of cultural knowledge/s, which is becoming increasingly recognised by institutions creating online accessible archives. As the potential for immersive experience grows in the digital realm, museums will grow more and more redundant (for better or worse – personally, I never could stand museums).

In that respect it would be interesting to track the budget trends for physical versus online material developed by someone like MCH over the past decade or so…

15 - 09 - 12

Add in the National Library makeover (with or without Treaty Room) Rotorua, Tauranga, Otago Settlers, Napier and so on and das capital is still winning by a mile. Plainly, bricks and mortar haven’t lost their attraction yet. In more than one of these developments, the holy spirit of Bilbao is invoked in the fervent hope that crowds will form in regional centres.

16 - 09 - 12

I don’t understand these green roofs. You spend tens of thousands of dollars making your home damp-proof and dry. Then you stick a whole mass of soggy soil and plant matter on the roof. At least the leaky-building people didn’t go out of their way to expose their structures to damp and water.

Kent Duston
19 - 09 - 12

davidp – You know, I think you’re onto something. Maybe the mould growing in the walls of the 1990s polystyrene boxes with no flashings were simply a crap way of trying to get green walls to function correctly in our rainy climate, in a very DIY way. Maybe I shouldn’t have looked askance at the Roger Walker-designed leaky home horror (now demolished, thankfully) on the corner of my street … I should have had the foresight to see the porous water-absorbing “cladding” for what it actually was – a growing medium! :-)