I was amused to find myself branded as a 'green-roof zealot' by Austin Williams in his report on the AJ green roofs conference (AJ 07.07.05). However, Williams' cynicism seems to have led him to misunderstand what I said. My main message was that over-complex systems of layers and fancy irrigation systems are unnecessary. Unless, that is, one is seeking to create the classic English striped bowling green, which is generally not particularly useful on a roof.
I argued that it is much better to keep things simple and allow a natural ecosystem to develop on a green roof with plants that can adapt to the conditions there. A meadow changes through the seasons and never dies. A bowling green will die if not watered.
I don't promote, as Williams claims, 'the aesthetic merits of letting nature kill off plants', but rather prefer to work with nature to create beautiful self-sustaining green roofs which do not need to be constantly irrigated with precious water, as one part of a wider strategy to create sustainable buildings.
Williams is correct in reporting that I am keen to raise the public's consciousness of green roofs, but until I read his article I didn't realise quite how far there is to go to persuade some people to take green roofs seriously.
Jonathan Hines, director, Architype, Cinderford, Gloucestershire