BLOG Imagining green roofs in Dublin’s Docklands

Blog Post by Owen Reilly, September 25th 2015

The modern architecture that defines Dublin’s Docklands is a lasting legacy to the developers involved in the regeneration of the last twenty years. Now, motivated by the economy’s upturn, and Dublin City Council’s Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme focused on the Grand Canal Dock and North Lotts areas, a next development phase is beginning; the SDZ provides for the development of 2,600 additional residential units and Dublin City Council is ambitious in this regard; they say: ‘The ambition for the Dublin Docklands is for it to become one of the great living urban environments of Europe, providing a unique and enriching lifechoice and experience for residents.’ Recent visits to the green roof terraces at The Gibson Hotel at The Point Village and The Marker Hotel at Grand Canal Dock prompted my thinking about the possibilities that green roofs can offer the next wave of developers.

Access to communal green roofs would be welcomed by buyers and tenants

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are a requirement for all new development in Dublin and the SDZ advocates in particular for green roofs. The sustainability benefits delivered by green roofs are well-documented; in addition they can also offer a valuable communal amenity for apartment residents and allow for more efficient use of space. In all my time as an estate agent in the Docklands, I have never yet met a buyer or tenant who would not sacrifice private outdoor space for more storage space. Surely it is sensible to recognise that residents in fact spend limited time in the private outdoor areas attached to their apartments – given time constraints and frequently disadvantaged orientation – and to reconfigure the external amenities to focus instead on providing the optimal communal rooftop area for recreation when the sun breaks through.

High-rise development will put spotlight on roofs at lower levels

Seven and ten storey residential buildings are provided for within the SDZ planning scheme and, as Dublin embraces high-rise development, buildings’ roofs will enter people’s lines of sight to an increasing extent. While Dublin City Council has done some fantastic planting at street level and many apartment developments are built around really excellent green courtyards, the aerial view of the Docklands is one predominantly of grey roofs. Properly placed roof gardens will serve to enhance the aesthetic experience for the future residents and occupants of high-rise buildings.

The market for a greener Docklands

The higher front-loaded costs in connection with green roofs are clear. I sold the apartments at The Watermint in Cabinteely for Monti in 2008; the energy efficient high-end apartments were built to the most advanced sustainable standards and the buyers did pay a premium. In my opinion there is an opportunity to market homes in the Docklands that are energy efficient, enhance the green economy and provide the optimal urban quality of life – and perhaps that may include access to communal outdoor space that may be on the roof… Over to the developers now and their imaginations…

Owen Reilly, September 25th 2015