An organic take on the Big Apple
Photos: Albert Vecerka/Esto, Christian Volkmann

Solar Roofpod: the vegetable plot above Manhattan

It might vaguely remind you of a designer allotment shed. Instead of discreetly nestling next to some railway track or other, the Solar RoofPod is proudly located three floors up from ground level, so the tomatoes and cucumbers growing there reach up into the skies of Manhattan. Few other common or garden cucumbers can boast of growing in the shade of a building called “Solar RoofPod”, with roots in the roof of the Spitzer School of Architecture. But the roof garden itself also provokes discussion as one of New York City’s first architecturally net zero energy buildings. It even has its own power base.

Prof. Christian Volkmann, who initiated the project, confirms this as he juggles some very large numbers. He speaks of between 150,000 and 200,000 roofs in New York City, which could be used to install such roof gardens. What now sounds like a vision of the future actually started life as a student project designed to finally make beneficial use of urban roof space that had previously lain fallow. It involved enthusiasm for one material in particular: wood. RAICO supplied the technology. The firm’s team was quickly enthused by the idea, and it donated material, help with installation and – ultimately – an impressive amount of money. The RoofPod project was a question of (literally) aiming high, namely at the roof of the School of Architecture.

Solar roofpod
Solar roofpod