by Neometro

All Grown Up

Ideas - by Open Journal

In 2010 a handful of inspired young business leaders launched the Growing Up Project to address climate change in our cities. With the support of the Future Focus Group leadership program, offered by the Committee for Melbourne biannually, their vision for a greener CBD took its first steps. Their hope was that The Growing Up Project would be the catalyst for a thriving green roof industry in Melbourne and beyond. Their work aimed to raise awareness about the countless benefits green roofs can bring to our cities while breaking down barriers to green roof installation in existing and new buildings. And the best way to do that? Build a world class green roof in Melbourne’s CBD, of course.

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The Growing Up Project green roof at 131 Queen Street in Melbourne’s CBD (Culnane, N. 2015)

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(Culnane, N. 2015)

After securing funding from a range of Public agencies and, later, a three year ARC linkage grant with University of Melbourne, the group identified a rooftop ready to be greened and embarked on their mission. Through a design competition, open to both professional and student Architects and Landscape Architects, a design submitted by Bent Architecture was chosen and the process of bringing together a previously fragmented industry was begun. Throughout the project’s delivery property owners, architects, engineers, academics, builders, suppliers and tenants alike came together and contributed to what was a living demonstration of the kind of social and environmental benefits these types of projects can offer. Nic Culnane, a Growing Up Project Committee member, describes the momentum that the project gained as a “contagion” in which “all parties were immersed” [1].


Overwhelmed by the degree of industry and community support they received for the project, Nic says their team “developed momentum for the industry with [their] tenacity and problem solving attitude which leveraged the skills of an industry that was crying out for acknowledgement and an opportunity to demonstrate their benefits.” But while the administration of the green roof resulted in a strengthening of industry and public dialogue, the contribution of The Growing Up Project didn’t stop there. As was always intended, some of the most significant impacts have materialised since.


The knowledge generated by the pilot project at 131 Queen Street has informed a range of further work by the Growing Up Committee and its project partners. Bent Architecture have now become the leaders in green roof design in Melbourne and the Architectural industry now has a credible precedent with which to strengthen the argument for future green roof opportunities. A green roof policy paper was prepared and delivered by the Growing Up Committee to both State and Local Government, informing best practice design guidelines for green roof installation now detailed in Victoria’s Growing Green Guide. The group continue to deliver regular informative talks to interested stakeholders such as the Royal Botanical Gardens, and open their green roof to the public during the annual Open House Melbourne event. Nic, however, maintains that the research generated through the pilot project is by far the most important legacy of their work. The project at 131 Queen Street became a vehicle for the development of detailed research into which plant species can survive without irrigation in Melbourne’s climate, and how best to design substrates that will last for five years or more without breaking down. This new understanding has had a significant impact on both the perceived and practical viability of green roof projects city wide.

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(Culnane, N. 2015)

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(Culnane, N. 2015)

While not as prevalent in retrofitted buildings, the utilisation of CBD rooftops in new buildings has increased due to a greater awareness of social, environmental and economic benefits of projects such as this. The comprehensive success of The Growing Up Project is a testament to the potential of the green roof industry, and of the integration of green roofs in our CBDs as a strategy to address climate change, while generating many other positive impacts.


Perhaps an equally salient observation to make from this project’s success is the important role that public agencies such as the Committee for Melbourne play in facilitating a reshaping of our urban futures. With The Growing Up Project being added to a list of Future Focus Group success stories – such as Melbourne’s White Night, Open House Melbourne, and Melbourne Little Libraries – it becomes clear that funding and support programs like this are crucial to harnessing the creative leadership potential of those outside of the public and private sectors. Nic summarises their understanding of the unique position they were afforded by saying that “in a way, we acted like government by going where the private sector wouldn’t. The Growing Up project was a catalyst for industry players to join together in a truly collegiate way to demonstrate the benefits of green roofs and therefore grow the industry for all.”

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131 Queen Street façade from street level (Culnane, N. 2015)

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(Culnane, N. 2015)

  1. Culnane, N., & Crawford, T. (2015, May 15). Growing Up Melbourne. (K. Bush, Interviewer)

 Text: Kyle Bush


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