Millennium Village, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Green roof size: 197,542 square feet
Award recipient: Durante Kreuk Ltd. (landscape architect) Project Team
Architectural services: Merrick Architecture Borowski Sakumoto Fligg Ltd.; GBL Architects; IBI/HB Architects; Nick Milkovich Architects; Walter Francl Architecture; Robert Ciccozi Architecture
Client: Millennium Development
Green roof plant supplier: Linnaea Nurseries
Green roof supplier: Xero Flor Canada; Live Roof

Millennium Water is a single-phase development which covers eight city blocks in Vancouver, and is LEED Gold-certified neighborhood. Eight parcels, amounting to over 50% of the total roof area, supports 197,542 square feet of green roof.

The intent behind the design of the all-private parcels was to create a series of courtyards that range from semi-public to private. Those located on the ground floor can be accessed by anyone meandering through the neighborhood. Each courtyard was designed to have a unique character with a wide range of programming elements to meet the future intended mixed demographic of the neighborhood. One important aspect of each courtyard is the drop of the structural slab, in some cases up to 36 in., which allows generous growing medium build up, creating a seamless experience within each courtyard. Some of the main features include outdoor terraces, urban agriculture, lawn areas for unstructured play or relaxation, water features, and children’s play areas, all of which was intended to nurture the development of relationships between neighbors building a strong sense of community. In most cases, the courtyards are surrounded by a mix of buildings such as senior living, rental, and social housing.

The green roofs host a variety of interesting features. Rain and wind sensors which are tied back to a smart controller to avoid irrigating when not required. The irrigation system operates in the night, reducing water demand and loss from winds and evaporation. Also, each building has its own cistern that has been sized to accommodate for a minimum-six week drought. Water is collected from every rooftop and stored in the cisterns, which then reuse the water for irrigation and toilet flushing.

The green roofs are designed to stimulate the senses. One key element was the harmonious integration of water features from fountains, waterfalls, flowing channels, and reflective ponds, which play an important role in the aeration of water collected and stored in the cisterns preventing otherwise stagnant water. In addition, parts of the green roofs were designed to be a fragrant garden. A variety of plants with fragrant blossoms and foliage such as lilac and roses were selected to provide pleasing, natural perfume to stimulate the senses.

Much of the landscape was designed to incorporate edible plants, such as blueberry bushes, raspberries, cherry, fig and pear trees and even some kiwi vines to encourage residents to understand where food comes from, as well as support wildlife. Other plant material was selected based on its characteristics to attract bees and other pollinators to promote and assist the overall ecological system of Vancouver. The remainder of plant material is indigenous and adaptive plants, which have a high drought tolerance, greatly reducing water demand. The wide variety of plants and soil media depth (from 3 in. to 30 in.) has served the roofs well as a useful research site for the British Columbia Institute of Technology.