Frederick University Collaborates with Urban Gorillas NGO to Explore the Potential of Rooftop Utilization in Cities for Adapting to Climate Change

On 19 January 2024, Dr. Anna Merry (Frederick University) had the opportunity to meet with Marina Kyriakou (Cyprus Energy Agency, NGO and Urban Gorillas, NGO) to discuss the multiple benefits of rooftop reutilization within the urban realm. During the discussion, it was highlighted that this innovative urban planning practice can make significant moves towards the goals of the European Green Deal and the ideals of the New European Bauhaus.

Rooftop project: The European Creative Rooftop Network (ECRN) is a network of organizations, across 9 European cities promoting the creative and optimal use of urban rooftops to tackle contemporary urban challenges. This partially undiscovered layer of urban space offers a diversity of opportunities. From the generation of new places to meet and the creation of cultural breeding grounds to innovative living labs exploring sustainability. The ECRN works together to develop local and translational projects that inspire citizens and stakeholders to reimagine a sustainable roofscape in cities.

As a result of the initiatives of the ‘rooftop’ project, the GREAT team of Frederick University (Aravella Zachariou and Anna Merry) and Urban Gorillas, NGO have teamed up to use the GREAT methodology to engage with multiple stakeholders to promote a new form of dialogue using the positive impact of games, allowing each group to express their attitudes and facilitate dialogue to policy issues relating to rooftop utilization and to gain insight into the needs of each group. The initiative aims to drive change in the way our buildings are designed and how the utilization of currently ‘lost’ spaces of the city can be reclaimed in the context of the climate emergency.

The first activity of the collaboration was the demonstration of the Rainbow Rooftops Policy Paper which outlines a colour code per rooftop function as explained by Marina Kyriakou of Urban Gorillas.

  • Green: rooftops used to provide green space, increase biodiversity in the city and reduction of urban heat effect
  • Blue: rooftops used to collect and store (rain) water and ensure delayed drainage
  • Yellow: rooftops used to generate sustainable and renewable energy
  • Red: rooftops used as meeting spaces with social functions such as culture, sports or recreation, that promote social cohesion
  • Orange: rooftops used for urban mobility purposes
  • Purple: rooftops used for vertical densification by adding new volumes (mostly residential, but not exclusively)
  • Grey: rooftops used for technical functions, such as installations and utility services

Since roofs account for 20–25% of all urban surface areas, currently, within the city of Nicosia there are thousands of square meters of flat roofs remaining underused.

Initiatives such as the Agora Temporary installation on the SPEL rooftop by the Urban Gorillas and the green roof pilot of the Cyprus Energy Agency on their office building premises in the old town of Nicosia are considered pioneer projects in a genre of Urban planning practices that have great potential.

Imagine being able to utilize 25% of all available roof space. This would have a positive impact on restoring urban biodiversity, increasing the use of Renewable Energy Sources and water retention solutions, improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and increasing the lifespan of the existing stock. Last but not least, it would improve the aesthetic image of the city and provide more spaces for cultural and social exchange between citizens.