DeepDive: Look up! Let the greenery flourish on the city’s roofs

Spring is coming for the greenery on the city’s walls and roofs. White Arkitekter has created a leafy roof garden in the heart of Malmö’s vibrant city life.
“As a landscape architect, I see many unused spaces in the city that should be used. The roof terrace is proof of the fantastic green rooms we can create right in the middle of where we are,” says landscape architect Markus Magnusson.

The Priorn office building, designed by White Arkitekter on behalf of property company Vasakronan, is located in one of Malmö’s most central neighbourhoods. Its closest neighbours are Pildammsparken, Malmö Opera and the art gallery Malmö Konsthall.


It was clear from an early stage that one of the tenants would be Region Skåne’s Memory Clinic, a world leader in memory research and dementia care. The clinic requested an accessible, green external environment for patients, relatives and employees, inspired by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ rehabilitation garden in Alnarp.


Carl-Johan Gustavsson is head of business development at Vasakronan. He says that the idea of a roof garden sounded exciting, but he admits that he was unable to imagine how it would turn out.


“Of course we’re used to greenery on façades and green roofs, and you can see a little of this everywhere in the city. The same applies to solar panels on roofs, which we also have at Priorn. But planting an entire garden on one of the property’s roofs, it was difficult to understand in advance how that would actually look. I must say that it exceeded expectations.”

Landscape architect Markus Magnusson is pleased and proud of the result, for which he thanks good co-operation with other players. Thanks to their early involvement in the planning of the property, the team from White could focus properly and realise the Memory Clinic’s clear vision.


“When everyone involved has a shared desire to achieve a clear, defined goal, the result is good, as in this case. Everyone involved was faithful to the end result, from start to finish.”


For Markus Magnusson the garden is also proof that it’s possible to create a green, leafy room on a roof – with similar properties and values to a garden on the ground.


“As our towns and cities become more densely populated, property owners must progressively take greater responsibility and compensate for the lost ground; otherwise we’ll never be able to call our towns and cities green.”

He also sees important value in the existence of the garden, with all its vegetation and details.

“Rather than an abstract drawing, now we can show what we’ve achieved and what values green rooms actually add. It makes it easier for property owners and others in the industry to understand how it might turn out when they can visit a finished roof garden like this one.”
Markus Magnusson, Lead Landscape Architect

Jonna Tingberg is one of the unit managers at the Memory Clinic who has been involved in the landscape project from the beginning. Not only can the clinic now offer a garden adapted to the patient group’s specific needs in terms of materials, colours and tactile properties, the roof terrace also provides added value for relatives and staff.


“The garden has also become the ideal spot for a moment’s relaxation and recovery for my employees. There are seats here that enable therapy and patient conversations outdoors, and instead of sitting in the staff room we come out here for some physical activity during our breaks.”


Carl-Johan Gustavsson agrees. This project has made it clear to him that there are many ways that property owners can take additional responsibility for creating a greener city.

“This is a concept we’d like to take forward. We consider the ability to offer roof gardens to our office tenants to be an added value that’s exactly in line with the times. Partly from a climate and environmental perspective, and partly from creating unique green places where our tenants can spend time.”
Carl-Johan Gustavsson is head of business development at Vasakronan

A path, a conservatory fit for winter use and a variety of trees and plants create several separate spaces with different characters. The garden has a place for physical activities such as medical yoga and stress management and a place for therapeutic gardening. The clinic’s conference room is directly adjacent to the garden, which means the external room can be used as an extension of the premises.


Markus Magnusson believes that the garden, with its different rooms, would be valuable to employees in any workplace.

“Imagine being able to offer yoga or other exercise for employees in an environment like this. Or arranging conferences where the coffee breaks and lunches are taken in a garden setting, while being in the middle of the city.”


He also sees several valuable positives that a garden like this could offer residents in blocks of flats or properties owned by housing-co-operatives. Instead of a conference room, a conservatory fit for winter use could be created that residents could hire for parties, celebrations or other events for which their own home is too small.


“Furthermore, if, as a society, we are to take overall responsibility for achieving the goals regarding green towns and cities and increased biodiversity, projects like this are a win-win for people, animals and the environment.”

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