It was a Congress which has no equal. Superlative Green Roof projects, outstanding speakers, top-class presentations and an international collegial atmosphere made the two days at the 4th International Green Roof Congress in Istanbul from April 20–21, 2015 an industry highlight.
This year's Congress of the International Green Roof Association (IGRA), under the patronage of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, was a Green Roof conference that may be considered unique in the world, not only in terms of its 500 participants from 35 different countries. Featured Green Roof projects such as Marina Bay Sands, a landscape park in Singapore standing almost 200 meters above sea level, Bosco Verticale, a double-towered skyscraper in Milan with a façade-forest hosting more than 700 trees, and the congress venue itself, the Zorlu Center in Istanbul, whose roof garden is built on an elevated grade of 33 meters and has an area of 62,000 m², complete with swimming pools.
"The Sky is the limit – Nothing is impossible" – renowned speakers from various disciplines led the participants to the realization that the green building industry is advancing into new dimensions and that, true to the congress motto "Explore the Nature on Rooftops," there is much to discover in terms of new utilization.
The organizers intentionally chose Istanbul, the transcontinental metropolis, as the congress venue where Green Roof experts from East and West came together for an intensive personal exchange which would not have been possible within a purely digital platform.
As part of the theme "Green Roofs in Mediterranean and Dry Climates" participants learned how transferring the Oasis Principle can change the concrete deserts typical of urban rooftop locations into charming oases. Projects from Armenia, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey have thereby set new standards.
Over 250 participants from more than 40 countries attended the 3rd International Green Roof Congress (13th–15th May) in Hamburg, using it as a platform to gather information on future trends for roof and façade greening. One of the highlights of the event was Lord Mayor Olaf Scholz's appearance to present the new Green Roof strategy of Germany´s second largest city Hamburg.
The International Green Roof Association (IGRA) and the German Roof Gardener Association (DDV) invited the Green Roof branch to Hamburg for the three day multidisciplinary and transnational information exchange under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, Dr. Peter Ramsauer. Given the other events which were also taking place in Hamburg, namely the International Garden Show (IGS) and the International Building Exhibition (IBA), with their spectacular landscape designs and innovative living concepts, there was no better place this year to present a status report on Green Roofs at an international level and to identify future areas of application.
IGRA President Roland Appl provided the guiding principle for the congress with his speech "Green Roofs Quo Vadis?". The subject of Green Roofs in Germany is often limited to the ecological values of the so called "extensive" Green Roofs, which hampers the creative potential of architects. The Danish architect Jakob Lange (Bjarke Ingels Group – BIG) demonstrated in his speech "Green is the New Black" that green areas on roofs also have an impact on fun, quality of life and the design of experience spaces for the residents. It's not for nothing that the multi-award winning architecture firm feels bound to the concept of "hedonistic sustainability". The Singaporean architect Wong Mun Summ (WOHA) also places the needs and wishes of homeowners and tenants to the fore in his greening philosophy "Breathing Architecture". The same holds true for the urban waterscapes of the urban planner and landscape architect Prof. Herbert Dreiseitl, who brings rain water as lifeblood and a natural climate buffer back into public spaces and makes it a tangible experience. The important role which landscape architects can play to promote Green Roofs was emphasized by Ilya Mochalov, Secretary General of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).
The momentum which the subject Green Roofs can take when political deciders set the agenda was made clear by the Lord Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz in his greeting to the congress participants. With his vision of a living roof landscape with green and recreational qualities, he has commissioned the development of a comprehensive municipal Green Roof strategy.
During the two days 30 speakers from 10 countries presented new and fascinating ideas for the future of urban roofs.