October 2018Designer Spotlight: 855 Brannan Apartments Rooftop Community Space
As more and more people move to urban centers, rooftop spaces have become increasingly popular as spots for gathering and relaxing. When treated like an outdoor “room,” rooftop terraces and patios are an elegant extension of an interior space. But because of exposure to wind, creating a functional, beautiful design for a rooftop is tricky.
When designing for a rooftop space, you’ll want to keep these things in mind.
Have you included elements that act as barriers against the wind? A pergola fixed over the space will offer some protection for furniture and planters (and also the plants in them, by preventing wind scorch), by changing the wind’s direction, so that the full force of any gust doesn’t hit the space head-on. For vertical gardens, a trellis will help keep plants fixed in place.
Furniture and decorative elements that have significant weight are better able to withstand the onslaught of wind. A chair that weighs 15 to 20 pounds, for example, might shift a bit as the wind blows, but it’s unlikely to achieve liftoff. Furniture with aluminum frames is the lightest, and is generally not suitable for outdoor designs where wind is a concern. Stainless steel is a better choice, and wood, with its natural density, is the best option for rooftop patios and terraces. Or try a combination of wood and steel, like this weighty yet sophisticated bench.
While some furniture—especially benches and tables—can be bolted down, fixing chairs in place isn’t the best design approach. People come in all shapes and sizes and like to adjust their chairs for optimal leg room, or to stay within arm’s reach of side tables. They may also need to move their chairs to suit different types of gatherings. Again, stick with heavyweight frames for chairs, and you won’t need to bolt them down.
Rooftop terraces and patios are an elegant extension of an interior space. When choosing outdoor furniture, ensure they are rated for all kinds of inclement weather.
Besides weight, lack of air flow is the biggest reason why outdoor furniture gets picked up and strewn across a yard or street during heavy wind. A bench, chair, or stool with a slatted back and seat, or with open sides, allows the wind to pass through the object, rather than buffeting it.
For maximum protection in a windy environment, choose furniture with frames, fabric, and cushion foams that are rated for outdoor use; this isn’t just for safeguarding against the wind, but also for protection from sunlight, rain, and snow. If the cushions don’t come with ties, ask the manufacturer to add them. It may cost a little extra, but it’s an investment you’ll be grateful you made when your neighbors are chasing their chair pads down the block in the next storm, while yours stay put.