Design over the rooftop

Design Over The RooftopIn densely populated global cities like London, Hong Kong and New York, space is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity. Although iceberg homes have proven popular in some areas, they also require extensive planning permission and by definition tend to lack natural light. It’s therefore fairly logical that innovative designers are turning their focus instead to building a little higher up – all the way up to the rooftops, in fact. Several properties have unused flat roofs that have great potential to become gardens, terraces and sundecks with just a little creative thinking and some expert advice. Not only are many of these spaces natural suntraps, but they could also incorporate anything from a comfortable barbecue area to an outdoor pool.

The first thing you’ll need to consider is the strength of your roof, as this will be a crucial deciding factor in how far you can push your design ideas. If you already have a concept for your converted rooftop space, talk it through in detail with a specialist architect to assess whether your building can support the load. Depending on the extent of your renovation and the region you live in, you may also need council approval.

Once you have an idea of how much additional weight your rooftop can sustain, you’ll need to start making some calculations. As with any building project, it’s important to begin with an accurate and detailed budget that recognises the cost for each part of the process. Transporting materials up to your roof and waterproofing tend to be the most expensive elements, but if your plans involve a garden, drainage and irrigation should also be factored in.

Just as no two gardens are the same, your rooftop space can be completely personalised to suit your aesthetic vision. The only common denominator in rooftop design is that lightweight is always best – no matter how structurally sound the building is, you should minimise the load wherever possible. However, this doesn’t mean you have to exclude lavish features. The rooftop pool of this stunning Ibizan palace makes full use of the property’s excellent location above the island’s Old Town, while sun loungers, umbrellas and pot plants complete the terrace’s perfect suntrap setup.

In this penthouse in Cannes, the rooftop terrace is used as a spacious outdoor lounging area, with a summer kitchen and an elegant dining table. Low walls and plants neatly divide the space into distinct areas, making this an ideal rooftop for entertaining large parties on warm evenings. A similar combination of wooden decking and neutral outdoor sofas works well at this Mallorca villa, but here the space has a more open-plan feel that emphasises the full size of the terrace.

When designing your space, remember that a rooftop will inevitably be subject to stronger winds than those experienced at ground level.  This will not be a major setback for any visitors to the rooftop, but without suitable windbreaks you may find that your plants are adversely affected by strong winds. Should you wish your rooftop to fulfil a primarily horticultural purpose, lattices are generally the most effective option, allowing some wind to reach your plants without overpowering them.

To view more exceptional properties with rooftop terraces or to start searching for your own today, just visit the Engel & Völkers website.