Architects Journal Response
Last week, AJ Technical Editor Felix Mara attended the launch of Pocket Habitat at Arup’s new HQ. Pocket Habitat, a modular planting bag designed to promote biodiversity on roofs.
Hill Holt is a charitable trust set up to offer a alternative way of life to young people in our inner cities. Hill Holt has built a new conference and teaching facility set in a rural woodland location.
Arup and Sky-Gardens have launched Pocket Habitat, the only modular planting system actively designed to promote biodiversity on new or existing roofs, or provide temporary greening at ground level.
Each module is a stand-alone unit made from environmentally friendly material and containing recycled substrates and wildflower seeds. They link together to form a continuous vegetated surface, which may be moved when required.
Rebecca Stewart of Arup said “The Pocket Habitat is an adaptable way to create a biodiverse rooftop environment allowing a green roof to be easily retro-fitted to existing buildings. Furthermore the innovation is generating much interest from developers for temporary greening of development sites. The Pocket Habitat can be rapidly installed and removed if maintenance of the roof or other areas is required. A further attraction is that it can be tailored to a user’s home or work area postcode, using locally sourced aggregates, thereby promoting localised biodiversity and reducing carbon footprint through travel.”
The concept will also help cities meet energy efficiency goals.
Mike Cottage of Sky-Gardens said: “This is the perfect time for this innovative new product. Green roofing is taking root in city environmental agendas the world over. In Greater London alone it is estimated there are 24,000 hectares worth of building roofs. That is 16 per cent of the capital. Pocket Habitat can help effectively and effortlessly convert this area into a greener space.”
Ideal for use by roofers and waterproofing manufacturers, the habitats can also be used by landscapers. Installation and removal is easy and requires no expert knowledge.
Pocket Habitat’s size and weight means it may be installed on development sites, existing roofs, new builds or retrofits, without the need of a crane or specialist equipment. Furthermore, when installed it already looks great, eradicating unsightly growing periods.
Pocket Habitat emulates an environment similar to the natural living conditions of plants, aiding seed germination by providing shade and shelter from the wind, while offering a large open area for maximum exposure to the sun.
It offers flexibility to host plants, flowers, grasses, bushes, shrubs and even vegetables, enabling users to personalise individual modules, as well as the look of an entire area.
Benefits to wildlife, particularly birds, butterflies and bees, are plentiful, most notably in urban areas.
Mike Cottage said: “Pocket Habitat arrives as green roofing emerges from the margins to become a mainstream product. Efforts are being made in the UK to raise the profile of green technologies already used in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where policies are in place to drive the uptake of green roofs. An estimated 10 percent of roofs in Germany are already converted.
“The New London Plan of 2008 included the first such policy in Britain, stating that all new major developments should include green roofs within their design and that smaller green roof projects should be encouraged by the 32 London boroughs.
“Pocket Habitat will help meet this challenge – and others across the country - by making an effective and easy to use product available to the widest possible audience.”