The tradition of dwellings clinging on top of other structures like swallow nests on a cliff has a long and honored history. Many bridges in medieval Europe housed rows upon rows of haphazardly-built houses and shops. More recently, numerous countries that lack strong zoning laws have left space for people with apartments to get creative with additions – many post-Soviet countries are host to the sight of occupants on top floors of apartment buildings taking upon themselves to strive upwards, demolishing the roof and adding an extra floor on top, sometimes endangering the structural integrity of the entire building in the process.
There are, however, premeditated cases of single-family homes capping larger structures, such as this cool flat roof project in the city of Zhuzhou, China. As the photo that accompanies the article shows, a giant, square shopping mall has been incongruously capped with four American-style, single-family residences, complete with yards and lawns that have been spread like a carpet on the concrete.
While questions have arisen about the feasibility of these rooftop villas, city authorities have stated that the project is in compliance with building laws and safety regulations.
A green roof usually means a rooftop garden like the kinds that now dot New York City, with patio chairs and shrubbery in pots; the Chinese project may herald a new trend in construction, and a new way of thinking about urban density and methods of grafting spacious suburban comfort onto a busy and bustling 21st Century downtown.