Auckland’s Central Library Has New Residents: Plants

A collection of 2050 native plants may now be positioned at the top of Auckland’s Central City Library. Upon climbing the ladder that takes you to the roof, you’re exposed to a lush space that feels paradisiacal. This space now allows visitors to soak in the nature around them while promoting eco-friendly living. You may breathe in the fresh air, take in the surroundings, identify the plants, and even remember your National Casino login.

A living or green roof is a roof that is partially or entirely covered with plants and a growth medium that is grown over a waterproofing membrane. Extra layers, like a root barrier or drainage and irrigation systems, may be added to living roofs. The living roof on top of the library will improve biodiversity. It will also help control building temperatures and lower noise levels by bouncing and absorbing sound.

This new green roof will also help to cut stormwater runoff by capturing 70% of total rainfall, as well as enhancing air quality. 2050 low-maintenance and resilient native plants were planted in 560 “eco-pillows” constructed primarily of recycled polystyrene. To keep the plants happy, the cushions contain a combination of dirt and nutrients. As soon as the plants have matured in the cushions, they will weigh the same as a standard washing machine. Iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei cultivated the plants in their nursery and designed the roof. The design is a kind of poutama weaving that depicts development, knowledge, and reproduction.

From above, the plant arrangement resembles a tukutuku panel seen in a marae. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei also placed certain plants on the roof that would have been found on the ancient Waihorotiu Stream coastline. Etienne Neho stated that it is a fantastic way to display native plants. It’s not a landscape accomplishment as a green roof feature, but it’s a method to be able to restore the mauri inside the CBD. He went on to explain that it benefits both rivers and airways, so the more plants they put on buildings, the better. Neho expressed his desire to see the entire CBD grown in urban spaces.

According to Mayor Phil Goff, this is the first time the city council has developed a living roof. It’s sustainable, and it’s a critical component of what they need to do to address rising global emissions and climate change. Goff stated that it was a perfect moment for other city center property owners to build a living roof, as this paves the path for others to follow.

The living roof was built as part of the library’s roof remediation project. This cost roughly $10 million. The living roof cost an extra $730,000 and took eight to ten months to complete. According to Auckland Council project manager Rachel Devine,  this seemed like the perfect chance to leverage and improve the repair work. Pallets of plants were lifted up onto the rooftop. The vegetation serves as an alternate upper layer to the traditional stone ballast. In the next few months, another 300 to 400 plants will be placed to increase total coverage.