Green roofs are sprouting up everywhere and the ones I’ve seen are all beautiful – from a distance. As in "There’s our lovely and functional green roof." But then I discovered this one at the co-housing community Eastern Village in Silver Spring, Maryland. (If you’ve not familiar with co-housing, it combines homeownership with community living, using a co-op legal structure. There are individual units and shared spaces like party rooms, exercise rooms, and so on.)
What was once an abandoned office building is now the LEED Silver-rated home to over 100 people, one of the few residential buildings in the U.S. to have attained that badge of environmental goodness. (Here‘s lots more about Eastern Village’s awards and media coverage.)
But we’re gardeners here so let’s look at their outdoor spaces. Except for one bench, the courtyard is filled with trees and shrubs, so is not a garden for people to gather in or for playing on the grass, but that’s okay because everyone’s favorite space is up on the roof. There I found not just the beautiful, ubiquitous sedums, but also children’s play equipment, a hottub, a large gazebo for live music events, seating and picnic tables, and plenty of spots for residents to just spread out on a beach blanket.
All very cool. But I’m more of a feet-on-the-ground type and my reaction to the whole thing was: Wouldn’t people rather be hanging out in the courtyard? But to my friends who live with exactly that situation (and shown here in a previous post about their co-housing community – click to enlarge the tiny photos) the courtyard’s not really private.
Back on my quiet, leafy street, the only change I take a bit of credit for is building the first deck, a structure that’s now de rigeur. Hell, my own house didn’t even have a window on the back side of the house overlooking our lovely wooded valley. With homes today being all about great rooms with expansive views of the back yard, it’s hard to imagine, much less understand, the anti-outdoors domestic style preferred by my parents’ generation.
THE POWER OF THE WINDOW BOX
The residents of Eastern Village DO love their window boxes, and the whole effect is wonderful, as
shown in their slide show. Great way to inject color and fun above the cool greens of that courtyard.
Bottom photo from the EVC website.