The sedum, cranesbill and grasses have settled in well on the green roof of the bar and restaurant. Sadly that’s more than can be said for the fruit and vegetables of the Living Roof at the Cité de la Mode et du Design. Growing hardy, drought tolerant plants on a roof isn’t too difficult. Producing useful quantities of edible crops is more of a challenge.
The Living Roof is the result of a collaboration between an impressive list of partners, including architects, carpenters, designers, engineers, recyclers, beekeepers and social animators. There were biologists, landscape designers and agronomists on the list too, but I think they must have gone home after the design phase and left the care of the crops to the artists.
The wooden planting beds, benches and arbours are a great example of cooperative recycling and, as the pictures on the Living Roof website show, people of all ages clearly had a good time working together on constructing them. The Roof is now the venue for a wide variety of community events, including arts, cooking, practical recycling and, yes, gardening. But I couldn’t find a single food plant that was really growing well and the contrast between the effort that has gone into constructing the garden and the meagre crops in view is stark. This project has a way to go before it lives up to the description of ‘urban agriculture’.
(Click on any photo for a larger image and click again for a close up view).
The Living Roof is a two year ‘residence’, described as a space dedicated to ‘collective experimentation’, so perhaps someone has been taking note of successes and failures, working out which crops have greatest potential for cultivation under these conditions and planning ahead for next year. I hope I’ve misjudged this garden and look forward to being proved wrong by the abundant crops next season.