Ōtākaro Orchard Blue-green Roof with Solar Panels

Name of case study

Ōtākaro Orchard Blue-green Roof with Solar Panels


 Ōtautahi Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand







NbS employed

Hybrid living/engineered interventions.

Type of NbS

Bio-Solar green roof, Blue-Green roof


Food Resilience Network


Christchurch City Council, Lotteries, crowd-funding, Rata


Total budget for the building including the roof was $NZ2.4 Million

Design group

Field Architects and Wood Limited

Solar panels integrated on the blue-green and biosolar roof. Photo by Ōtākaro Orchard.
Planting native flora on the blue-green and biosolar roof. Photo by Ōtākaro Orchard.
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Increased temperatures
  • Indirect health, social, cultural climate change impacts
  • Loss of other ecosystem services
  • Reduced air quality
  • Reduced water quality
  • Storm surge
  • Urban heat island effect
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Economic and social development
  • Energy security
  • Food security and quality
  • Human physical health and wellbeing
  • Pressures of urbanisation (waste management, hygiene, etc)
  • Water security and quality
Ecological benefits
  • Climate regulation
  • Creation of a sense of place
  • Education and knowledge
  • Fixation of solar energy
  • Production of fuel / energy
  • Habitat provision
  • Purification (of water, soil, air)

Summary of case study

Ōtākaro Orchard is a community-led initiative that emerged from the rebuilding vision for post-earthquake Ōtautahi Christchurch. Initiated by the Food Resilience Network, the project provides a community urban orchard/food forest in central Ōtāutahi, addressing issues of food security and offering a learning hub for growing food and building environmental awareness. At the heart of this community-led project is the construction of a sustainable building which houses an information centre, a cafe and the HQ for the Food Resilience Network (Ōtākaro Orchard, n.d.). The building aspires to meet the Living Building challenge and demonstrate how urban green spaces can be made to be edible. 

Central to the building design is the integration of a living roof, the first of its kind in Ōtāutahi. The decision to incorporate a living roof into the building was driven not only by the multitude of benefits it offers but also by the desire to showcase this nature-based design approach which stands at the forefront of resilient and adaptive design strategies internationally (Ōtākaro Orchard, n.d.). The project, launched in 2019, faced interruptions due to fundraising challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite setbacks, it is set to be completed in May 2024. A final crowd-sourcing fundraising initiative in 2023 successfully secured the remaining $60,000 necessary to complete the building.

Ōtākaro Orchard’s living roof incorporates two blue-green roofs with bio-solar panels, combining these systems to optimise their collective benefits. The Ōtākaro Orchard living roof seeks to be a best-practice example of appropriate plant selection, planting hardy native flora that characterises the sloped roof as an extruded trans-section of localised pre-human vegetation (Ōtākaro Orchard, n.d.). While not directly interacting with Indigenous knowledge, choosing native flora for green or living roofs in Aotearoa New Zealand aligns with a place-based approach, reflecting an Indigenous sense of place and enhancing urban biodiversity. Moreover, beyond addressing building sustainability concerns like stormwater management and insulation, living roofs present an opportunity to establish habitat creation for rare and endangered flora and fauna, contributing to urban biodiversity conservation efforts (Davies et al., 2010).

Read More
  • Davies, R., Simcock, R., & Toft, R. (2010, November). Islands in the sky, urban biodiversity enhancement in NZ on indigenous living roof landscapes. In 44th Annual Conference of the Architectural Science Association, ANZAScA.
  • Ōtākaro Orchard. (n.d.). About us. Ōtākaro Orchard. Available online: https://otakaroorchard.org/green-roof/. Date accessed May 5, 2024.

Further resources

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