Sunnyside Up by SO-IL



Brooklyn architects Solid Objectives - Idenburg Liu (SO-IL) have designed a rooftop landscape of allotments to showcase green roof technologies on an industrial building in Queens, New York City.


The project has been commissioned by Garden City Roofs, a company that specialises in green roof systems.


"As a result of [Mayor] Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, in which he call for buildings to be more energy efficient by 2030, interest in green roofs is on the rise," says Florian Idenburg of SO-IL. "Our client is a start-up company who is catering to this new interest, mostly by inexperienced building owners.


"She is providing a one-stop-shop, where one can learn about the roughly half a dozen systems available, get structural engineering advices, tax rebate advice, installer and maintenance recommendation.


"We have designed the allotments; and a small sales offices, that doubles as a display for “green” materials for which our client is a rep as well."


Here is a full project description from SO-IL:


Sunnyside Up

A roof garden in the garden city

Roofs are underused in New York City. Garden City Roofs, a startup company headed by Beth Lieberman, caters to a growing need for technical expertise and access to green roof systems. Garden City Roofs is converting the unused roof of a large industrial building into a showroom and knowledge-center for green roof systems. SO-IL has been asked to evaluate access, layout the roof systems and hard-scapes and design a sales- and learning center on the roof. The factory building, where once typewriter ribbons were made and which now houses a gym and billiards hall, is located along the train tracks in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, opposite of the New York / Korean Presbyterian Church by Gregg Lynn.


Sunnyside (above) is known for one of America’s first planned communities, Sunnyside Gardens. Constructed from 1924 to 1929, this residential area has brick row houses of two and a half stories, with front and rear gardens and a landscaped central court shared by all. This model, based on Ebenezer Howards garden city principles, allowed for denser residential development, while also providing ample open/green-space amenities.

In this spirit, and that of one time resident Lewis Mumford’s ideas of the organic city, the project is conceived as an integral part of the natural roofscape. The idea is to create an atmosphere as if working under a tree with little division between in- and outside. The pavilions form is achieved by slicing and rotating a Truncaded Octahedron, one of the most beautiful Archimedean Solids. The structure will be a showcase of materials that are either completely biodegradable or recyclable. Climate control will be created with natural elements; rain water, sunshine and shading through trees and plants.


Above: the industrial building sits along the train tracks, just north of the historic district of Sunnyside Gardens.


Above: once typewriter ribbons were manufactured in this building, now it houses a billiards hall and gym.


Above: the 21000 sf underused roof is a vast landscape of covered skylights and mechanical equipment.


The idea is to create an atmosphere as if working under a tree with little division between in- and outside.


Above: a 200 sf pavilion sits between the gardens, for information and display of materials. The allotments for the different roof-systems on display can be reached by a pathway connecting entrance, allotments and a deck which is used for educational purposes.


Above: a map of the different materials on display on the unfolded truncated octahedron.


Above: natural light comes in through a sole window.


Above: the building is well visible when landing on La Quardia Airport. The allotments form a recognizable pattern from the air.


Client: Garden City Roofs
Location: Sunnyside, Queens, NYC
Date: 09/01/08
Program: Entrance, office, hard-scape Area: Exterior: 21.000 sf; Interior: 200 sf.
Budget: $40,000
Note: To be completed spring 2009.


Posted on Sunday August 24th 2008 at 8:46 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • DJ

    so – ill.

  • edward

    What are these people smoking? The practical issues make this a non-starter.

  • critic

    go florian go!
    however, I’ve seen more exciting projects, still good they get to “build” something.
    btw, it’s spelled la Guardia, not Quardia.

  • Mad Scientist

    Pure formalism. What is the special value of that hexagonal orgy?

  • MGR

    Booooooring… zzzz

  • Sam

    nice project.

    dezeen has the most bitter responders on the net.

  • Figs

    Looks like part of the Death star crashed in Queens.

  • isobel

    that’s no moon… its a truncated octahedron.

  • zana

    Garden City Roofs are smart tapping into something which has the potential to grow immensely in cities around the world- with their ability to counter pollution, and the urban heat island effect. Interesting challenging the traditional rectangular allotment gardens configuration.

  • dag


    think first, and than comment. You think every think is about “the look, the appearance’s”, It seems to be a good project, with possibly not much budget.
    despite the look, essence is there. So let me know you “form’s baker” what would you do if you have to work with constrains, (economic constrains for, instance), what would you do then???

    I think it is a good example of what NYC need the most… intelligent and cheap options for giving the chance to the pre-historic, energy killing dinosaur, to pass away and became something better…



    • WaxWing

      Perhaps they should have come up with a smart solution which respects the program and economic restraints, rather than create something that looks like it was inspired by an urban outfitters trinket and an afternoon on Pinterest.

      What about this is proposal is intelligent or cheap dag? So-ill is not about smart, useful design. They wrapped a nearly windowless box in chainmail made from millions of hand welded rings.

  • tricky p

    florian idenburg is one bad dude. take note suckas, this homeboy is blowing up!

  • edward

    “forms baker” ? “cheap’? Right. Strip the old roof, repair any damage to structure, install high tech roof system with 8” of earth and pray it doesn’t leak. And I’m sure the marginal enterprises buildings like this house will generate the cash flow for the cost.

  • dag

    …FYI… ” an extensive garden roof, today, doesn’t need more than 3″-4″ growing media”…

    leaking?… why leaking?… do your research first!

    cash, cash, cash always cash…. what about Energy, Energy, Energy…

  • edward

    Toyota does make a grass tile that looks cost effective and has just gone on sale. But the kind of maintenance a building in this category would get makes it seem impracticable to me. A new structure or a well maintained on would work.

  • tina

    Florian Idenburg is such an interesting architectural thinker and writer. His role was pivotal in making SANAA an international firm and was critical to the management of the New Museum in New York- one of the best building this city has seen in a long time.

    But really, Florian, you need to get your house in order design-wise- Is this dungeons and dragons dice for real? I’m glad you are taking on an ecological issue here, but either make that shed elegantly complex, or brilliantly simple! is not creating a subtle atmospheric condition like a tree as you say.. ‘cmon!

    I want that feeling of inside/outside you promise, and I bet So-iL can do it- but take a second to make a sophisticated space. You are brilliant- but you need to stop thinking and describing, and start making artful, powerful material environment…

    take this as constructive, please. SO-IL has great promise..

  • dag

    Thanks for the last comments, it’s enjoyable and Interesting again,
    That is the art of discurs (discussion) deezen needs…


  • very nice and informative post. I love the post and ver nice collection of pictures. thnx for sharing. :)

  • felix

    $40,000 sounds very cheap for the size of the project…

    I like the formalism of the hexagons. It's like the ground is the net pattern for the office. They haven't convinced me the office is fit for its purpose… having not really explained what that purpose is. Very small for what a 'sales and learning center' sounds like to me though. No storage, nowhere for brochures or back of house… weird.