Here is a guide to Japan’s top green-roof buildings. We mean literally green-roofed, not environmentally green, but they do that too!
ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall
Building Type: Commercial
The ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural Hall is perhaps Japan’s pioneering green-roof building, designed by Emilio Ambasz who is himself a pioneering green architect. Ambasz transposed a 100,000-square-meter park (Tenjin Central Park) in the city center onto 15 stepped terraces of the ACROS Fukuoka Hall, a center of international, cultural and information exchange.
Underneath the park’s fifteen one-story terraces lies over one million square feet of multipurpose space containing an exhibition hall, a museum, a 2000-seat proscenium theater, conference facilities, governmental and private offices, as well as several underground levels of parking and retail space.
The complex is considered groundbreaking because it created a new solution for a common urban problem, as explained by greenrooms.com: by reconciling a developer’s desire for profitable use of a site with the public’s need for open green space.
Building Type: Commercial
Namba Parks is a huge terraced green space and retail and office complex located in Osaka, just south of Namba Station. Built on the footprint of Osaka’s old baseball stadium, the development was conceived as a large sloping park that connects to the street, thereby encouraging pedestrians to enter its several city blocks of groves, rock clusters, cliffs, canyons, lawns, streams, waterfalls, and ponds. Namba Parks was developed by The Jerde Partnership and completed in 2003.
The development consists of a 30-story office building and a large shopping mall crowned by a roof-top park spread across multiple blocks while gradually ascending eight levels, creating a green oasis in a high-density urban area.
Roppongi Hills Rooftop Garden
Building Type: Mixed-used
Of course, a discussion of green-roof buildings in Japan wouldn’t be complete without mentioning building tycoon Minori Mori, the creator and driving force behind the “Vertical Garden Cities” re-development concept which seeks to build environmentally-friendly cities and to maximize open space in Tokyo’s high-density centers.
All of the “Hills” buildings around Tokyo have roof-top gardens, which are meant not only to give residents to a chance to engage in an activity normally not readily available to urban residents (farming!) but also to help mitigate the heat island effect. At Roppongi Hills people roll up their pants and plant rice!
The next time you go to see a movie at Roppongi Hills theatre, be aware, urban farmers could be busy working overhead.
Unfortunately, rice planting atop Roppongi Hills is usually limited to residents and workers in Roppongi Hills.
What if you want to break out your inner farmer, but you don’t live in Roppongi Hills?
Train Station Rooftop Gardens
Location: Numerous JR train stations around Japan
Completed: Started in 2010, ongoing
Building Type: Train station building rooftop rental gardens!
In 2010, JR East launched the first Sorado Farm (also called Machinaka Saien) atop the JR Ebisu station building, opening up the rooftop of the station building to Tokyo’s aspiring urban farmers.
There are currently about a dozen Sorado Farms scattered throughout Japan, including Tokyo, Gunma, Chiba, Saitama, Aichi, Nara, and Osaka, with plans to eventually roll out the program to all of the stations in the JR network.
In addition to Ebisu, in Tokyo, there are gardens at Shinjuku, Hachioji, and Ogikubo stations.
Three square meter (33 square feet) garden plots rent for between 80,000 yen and 129,000 yen ($747 and $1200) per year, depending on the station, and are extremely popular with families and the elderly, who use the space not just for planting vegetables but also as private picnicking spaces. The rental price includes all the tools and equipment you’ll need.
Video of the JR Ogikugo station rooftop garden below:
More information is available on the Machinaka Saien website, but is only in Japanese.
Location: Japanese seaside (exact location not made public by architect)
Building Type: Residential
And now for something completely different and more exclusive.
Much, much more exclusive…
The Ville Ronde complex lies somewhere on the Japanese coast, but its location has not been revealed by the architects, Ciel Rouge, as this is a private residence which also contains a private museum and guesthouse.
As the architects explain: “The design features a porous facade that allows the interior to experience the wind and natural light as well as provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Cross ventilation is achieved through an inner garden that serves as a convection system in attracting fresh air. A 40cm thick roof garden, which hosts 500 m2 of solar panels, serves as natural insulation in addition to blurring the physical boundary between architecture and landscape.”
You may also be interested in: Living Inside a Mountain in Kagawa Prefecutre, Japan