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Xifré's Rooftop: Floating Wild Garden

When a heritage building rooftop renovation meets biodiversity, social interaction & self-sufficiency, a project like Xifré's Rooftop: Floating Wild Garden is born.

Floating Wild Garden
Floating Wild Garden
© European Union, 2021

When a heritage building rooftop renovation meets biodiversity, social interaction & self-sufficiency, a project like Xifré's Rooftop: "Floating" Wild Garden is born. 

Last year, the project from Barcelona won the New European Bauhaus award in the category of "Preserved and transformed cultural heritage."

Xifré Rooftop is a dual-purpose renovation design that preserves a 19th-century block of ten buildings while respectfully creating a "floating" wild space that enhances urban biodiversity and social interaction between neighbours and visitors. 

The transformation of the abandoned space into an exuberant Mediterranean wild garden followed five design objectives:

  1. Heritage: Els Porxos d'en Xifré is an 1830's landmark protected under Barcelona’s heritage program.
  2. Biodiversity: a planting design of over 50 plant species and 10,000 plants chosen for their biophilic value.
  3. Social: a green living space for the residents.
  4. Low impact: materials chosen to lower the carbon footprint and environmental impact.
  5. Self-sufficiency: resources used circularly. Solar panels generate energy, rainwater gathering systems supply irrigation, and green manure and composting procedures eliminate the need for pesticides.

The garden was installed once the roof was fully restored, employing the weight of earth dunes, built-in benches, and gravel paths as ballast.

Sergio Carratalá, the designer, avoided attaching the garden to the building using a ballasted multilayer technical solution. Instead, the garden "floats" on top, making the project entirely reversible.

The garden includes ponds, insect hotels, bird nesting structures, and different varieties of plants, contributing to local ecosystems' regeneration.

Carratalá reintroduced nature amid the urbanized metropolis by combining engineering know-how and sustainable technology.

The design prioritizes circularity (recycling resources including water, electricity, and carbon), accessibility (adding adapted elevators to accommodate wheelchair users), and a multi-sensory experience for the user (a retreat from the busy city combining sound, smell, taste, touch, and sight).

📸 © European Union