The Hottest (& Coolest) Thing in Construction

Green roofs, living roofs, living walls – there are many names for this increasingly popular innovation and they are now one of the hottest things in construction.

It is not just a UK phenomenon either: Last month, France passed legislation that new buildings in commercial zones must have either green roofs or solar panels.

France is not alone. In Switzerland, all buildings must have a green roof if they have a suitable pitch and across the Atlantic, Toronto began requiring some new buildings to include rooftop planting in their design as early as 2009; the requirements now apply to industrial buildings as well.

Wide Ranging Benefits

We’ve known for years that green roofs save energy and help with the local environment but the health benefits of such design choices are only just The Hottest Thing in Constructionbeginning to come to light.

One of the lesser known benefits relating to the installation of green roofs relates to the fact that by reducing heat transfer through the building roof, can improve indoor comfort and lower heat stress associated with heat waves.

Did You Know?

Roofs generally take up approximately between 15 to 25 percent of many cities’ surface areas. Because roofs are typically be replaced or retrofitted on a more frequent basis than entire buildings, they represent the perfect opportunity for developers and building owners to dramatically cut the “heat island effect” in urban environments as well as achieve energy cost savings and other goals relatively quickly — as long as they make the right ‘green roofing’ choices.

For more about the green roofing solutions available from Wallbarn, please click here.

Hampton Court Flower Show 2015

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show recently celebrated it’s 25th year and marked this very special anniversary with silver anniversary floristry, historic gardens and scarecrows celebrating the past. As ever, Hampton Court’s famous rose displays wowed visitors in the Festival of Roses marquee, with a historical theme throughout.

Diverse Displays

The Wallbarn team went along to the show and were amazed at the diversity of many of the displays and delighted with some of the ideas which were incorporated.

There are some bird boxes with special wooden “bee caves” drilled to encourage bees into urban gardens, which will in also encourage other insects, which will in turn encourage birds; thereby increasing wildlife diversity in cities. Along with green roof systems constructed onto specially designed steel frames bike shelters, bin stores; garden designers and urban planners are trying to find ways of increasing the diversity of flora and fauna in urban areas.

Some Interesting Facts!

Unless you have been to visit the show in person, it is difficult to understand just how big it has now become.

To help provide you with a little insight, we have picked out a few facts. Did you know…

  • It takes three weeks to build a show garden & two weeks to build a small garden – but they’re dismantled in just three days.
  • An average of 130,000 people attend the show every year.
  • The Floral Marquee is 6,750 square metres, big enough to fit an FA football pitch, it will feature more than 100 nurseries and growers in 2015.
  • The British Rose Festival was introduced in the second show, in 1991.
  • There are seven exhibitors that have taken part in every show since 1990: Blackmore & Langdon, The Botanic Nursery, Fibrex Nurseries, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Southfield Nursery, Squires Garden Centre and WS Warmenhoven.

For more on the Hampton Court Flower Show, please visit the official website by clicking here.

Refurbishment project in Bermondsey, SE1

We were recently called in to help complete a refurbishment project in Bermondsey, SE1 which involved us acting in the role of advisor to the main contractor as they worked towards resurfacing the flat roof at the top of the school for the pupils to use as a play / outdoor classroom.

The main contractor was Kier Services – Facilities Management and the sub-contractor, who called Wallbarn in for advice, was PM Associates.

Working To a Tight Schedule

The time schedule for the project was extremely tight with the roof needing to be re-waterproofed and covered with the hard landscaping in the one-week window of the half-term break. 

The roof deck was built to a fall to allow adequate drainage off the surface, the overall fall across the 10 metre length was approx. 100mm. Access to the roof area was very restricted.

Working with no crane resulted in all of the products having to be handballed up five flights of a very tight, Victorian staircase. Handballing 3 metre lengths of timber decking boards and softwood substructure was impossible.

Suggested Materials

We suggested using IPE hardwood timber tiles – 500 x 500mm x 30mm in size – mounted onto ASP adjustable pedestals. This would allow the decking surface to be laid to flat, creating a better finish for the pupils and teachers. 

Wallbarn delivered the materials to site and everything was carried up the stairs to the roof area. Laying the decking boards onto the ASP pedestals meant that no fixings had to be made through the waterproofing membrane. This meant that the waterproofing seam was not punctured, which avoided the risk of leaks and meant none of the warranties were compromised. Installation of also extremely fast and simple. 

Installation Techniques

The tiles were lined up at the highest point of the roof mounted onto fixed height 7mm rubber pads and levelling shims, and as each row of tiles was installed, gradually higher and higher pads and pedestals were laid under them to create a flat upper surface.

Half of the roof was laid with tiles, the other half with artificial grass. The junction between the grass and the tiles was fitted with an angled rubber fillet to prevent the tiles moving over time.

Exceptional Resolution

The installers were very pleased with the speed and ease of the system, and the project was finished in time and within budget. The end result was an extremely attractive finish. The client was delighted with the result.

The following gallery highlights some the changes that took place during the completion of the project.

CASE STUDY: Snowfields Primary School – London SE1

Resurface and overlay project on flat roof on Victorian school building – whole area 100m2 – 50% hardwood timber decking, 50% bonded artificial grass.

Main contractor / client Kier, subcontractor PM Associates – May 2015

The area was a flat roof on top of a 5 storey school in South London. The client needed to re-waterproof the deck and install a hard landscaping surface on top. The project was constrained in a number of ways, including the fact that access to the roof was only available via a narrow stairway up the 5 storeys and, being a working school, the only timescale available to carry out the work was within a one-week half term window in May 15.


The subcontractor overlaid the deck with a synthetic fully bonded waterproofing membrane. A timber decking and artificial grass finish was desired by the client. The contours of the deck surface could not be compromised and the area needed to be free draining. However, the warranty from the manufacturer of the membrane would have been compromised if any fixings were made through it after testing, so a suspended system was sought out.

Because of the difficulty of access to the roof, it was not possible to transport traditional decking boards and battens to the area.

 Untitled1  Untitled2
Wallbarn ipe timber decking tiles, mounted onto fixed height pads and ASP adjustable pedestals was the obvious solution. The pads and pedestals were delivered in boxes and the 500 x 500mm ipe timber tiles were able to be carried by hand up all the flights of stairs to the roof area.

Half of the roof area was to be decked and the other half was to be covered with artificial grass. Because this was an old, Victorian building, there were a number of original features which could not be moved or tampered with, such as the current window and door thresholds. The roof fell approximately 100mm over the area to be decked and had to start from a very minimal height at the centre.

The installers were able to start laying the tiles flush up to the window thresholds in the middle of the roof and by twisting the stems of the ASP pedestals, they were able to achieve a flat upper surface of decking (using the tiles) along the length of the roof deck up to the other end, where it fall into the gutters and outlets.

A rubber angled bar was fitted at the point where the decking and the artificial grass met, meaning the decking was held firmly in place, surrounded on all four sides, and would not move over time.

 Untitled4  Untitled5
The result was extremely impressive. The installation on the 100m2 roof was completed in three days. The school was able to open normally after the half term break and the pupils and teachers were able to use the area immediately as an outdoor classroom / break and leisure area.

This solution meant that this inner city primary school has access to an extra 100m2 of outdoor space. A fast but extremely effective solution was achieved using Wallbarn ipe hardwood timber tiles and the range of fixed height pads and adjustable pedestals.