When living in the concrete jungle, we are often blissfully unaware of anything happening that is above eye-level. But these days city rooftops are being used for a variety of purposes other than 15 minute breaks and a place birds spend their time – from hosting Secret Sunrise events to creating beautiful urban gardens or giving city dwellers the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of down below and hide out at a rooftop restaurant or bar.
“In compact city apartments, city rooftops can also maximise and at times even double the living space. They also offer opportunities for residents and city workers to find fresh air, to escape amongst the stars, or to hone their green thumbs,” says Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO of Cape Town Partnership.
One example (while not exactly a rooftop), is from the Cape Town Partnership who have used their balcony to create a garden that helps feed staff who pick the leaves or tomatoes to supplement their lunchtime salads or harvest plump aubergines for homemade pâtés, moussaka and even pickles.
Makalima-Ngewana says that this encourages their team to eat healthily, while also thinking about where their food comes from. “With rising food prices, home-grown, or in this case, office-grown, vegetables and herbs represent a cost-saving too.”
Another example of how a Mother City business embraces the space they are given, is the legendary Grand Daddy Hotel. The hotel offers their visitors the chance to camp out in style, as they use their rooftop space to house seven vintage trailers so that one can experience the “American trailer park” without leaving the city. They also regularly host open-air movie screenings, bringing attention to the opportunities rooftops pose to a wider audience.
However, Makalima-Ngewana says that they most encourage developers and existing residents that have the space to create rooftop gardens. “I like how in a place like New York, Central Park is regarded as the green lung of the city. There are already an abundance of green spaces in Cape Town, but what city can have too much green space?”