When Japan hosts the Olympics in 2020, the extraordinary displays of athletic prowess may be bested by the stark beauty and profound subtlety of the Japanese aesthetic tradition as imagined in the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
Balance and harmony are the highest ideals of the Japanese aesthetic sensibility, which is reflected in both the built environment, as the planned stadium will showcase, as well as in the county’s famed gardens and landscaping. Traditional Japanese garden design continues to be celebrated around the world, particularly for the sense of quiet the muted colors and simple forms can cultivate.
Wagner Murray Architects is looking to bring this element of style to Charlotte. The firm was recently engaged to design a rooftop garden accessible from a 6th floor terrace at 101 Independence Center in uptown Charlotte. The 15,000-square-foot space will be heavily inspired by Japanese design techniques such as is found in the traditional stone garden.
While inspired by those traditions, the space will also play with texture, scale, lighting and other materials to harmonize with Charlotte’s other delightful and delightfully whimsical open spaces (such as the interactive water features found in Romare Bearden Park), pocket parks (The Green), and public green spaces (Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery).
The Independence Center project will utilize landscaping best suited to challenging urban environments including drought tolerant plants and light-reflecting materials. Rooftop gardens are distinctive for their environmental benefits: reducing heat absorption and energy loads and reducing stormwater runoff.
As useful as these environmental benefits are, however – a 2005 study of Tokyo found that installing rooftop gardens on half of the city’s buildings could bring down ambient temperatures by nearly a degree – rooftop gardens also provide an inspired retreat from the traffic and noise at street-level.
Indeed, rooftop gardens create another level of activity in cities, but one that is decidedly less chaotic. Situated just a few stories up from street-level, the 101 Independence rooftop garden will be visible to office dwellers in several neighboring high-rises and will be accessible from the adjacent office tower.
WMA looks forward to completion of this project. We believe Charlotte has a rich tradition of inspired landscape planning — from garden suburbs to public parks. The 101 Independence Center project will connect to that tradition, adding to the growing inventory of interesting open spaces in Charlotte’s fast-changing, dynamic urban environment.