By Michelle King

At first glace green roofs might seem a little bit gimmicky. Sure, they’re beautiful, but what do they do? As it turns out, green roofs do quite a bit more than just make your home look like something out of Lord of the Rings. They absorb rainwater and act as a natural filter, increase agricultural space, lower urban air temperatures and provide insulation. Really puts your roof to shame, huh?

We’ve compiled seven stunning green roofs from around the world below. Oh, and we’re currently collecting money for our fund: We Want a Green Roof. Kickstarter link to come.

1. Hundertwasser's Waldspirale in Darmstadt, Germany

The Waldspirale is a residential building complex designed by Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and is a testament to both Hundertwasser's disdain for straight lines and his love of nature. The large spiraled building has 105 apartments and more than 1,000 windows, all topped with a stunning forest of beech, lime and maple trees.

2. Solaire Green Roof in New York

The Solaire Building, located in downtown Manhattan, was the first green residential high-rise in North America. It boasts not one, but two green roofs: a 5,000-square-foot terrace on the 19th floor and a 4,800-square-foot green roof on the 28th floor. Yes, they look pretty, but these two roofs also help to make Solaire one of the greenest residential buildings in the country. The rainwater collected by the roofs is stored in Solaire's basement cistern and even used to water nearby parks!

3. Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sister Bay, Wisconsin

Located in Wisconsin, this restaurant is known for having live goats grazing on its sod roof. It's easy to assume that this is a recent gimmick, but the grass roof and the goats (though, you know, not the same exact goats) have been a part of the restaurant since 1973. Oh, and in case you were worried, rest assured: The goats have winters off from roof duty.

4. Nanyang Technological University in Singapore

The School of Art, Design and Media at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University boasts this five-story green roof. Unlike many other green roofs, Nanyang University’s slopes down to street-level, offering students and faculty readily accessible green space. We can only imagine how inspiring it is to study art and design under — or on top! — such an impressive architectural feat.

5. M2 Hill House in Denmark

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is best known for large-scale green roof projects, but the M2 is an example a smaller scale, though still green-roofed residential home. It was completed in 2007 as a private commission.

6. OS House in Cantabria, Spain

Madrid-based Nolaster Architects (since split into MYCC and FRPO, with the latter retaining credit for the OS House) weaved together green building techniques and minimalistic design to create this stunning residential commission in 2005. The guiding inspiration behind the construction was to interfere as little as possible with the existing topography, thus the green roof and low horizontal design.

7. Nine Houses in Dietikon, Switzerland

Architect Peter Vetsch's Nine Houses is comprised of — you guessed it — nine residential homes. All nine were designed with the goal of merging the environment with the architecture, resulting in a living surface on the roof derived from the building footprint.

Would you ever live under a green roof? Did we miss your favorite green roof of all time? (Who doesn’t have one of those?) Let us know in the comments below.

Michelle King grew up in South Florida and now lives in Brooklyn. Her contributions have appeared on BULLETT, Refinery29, xoJane and The Huffington Post. Harriet M. Welsch is still her role model and probably always will be.

(Image credits, from top: WikipediaSolaripedia; Treehugger; Al Johnson’s; The University of Queensland;; Archdaily; Green Roofs)

This blog post about gardening (sorta?) is brought to you by Nine Rabbits, the bestselling novel by Virginia Zaharieva now available from Black Balloon Publishing.

About the Book:

A restless writer's fiery enthusiasm for her family's culinary traditions defines her from childhood to passionate adulthood as she strives for a life less ordinary. Lush gardens, nostalgic meals and sensual memories are as charming as the narrator herself.

About the Author:

Virginia Zaharieva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1959. She is a writer, psychotherapist, feminist and mother. Her novel Nine Rabbits is among the most celebrated Bulgarian books to appear over the past two decades and the first of Zaharieva's work available in English.

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