Vandusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre


IGRA Green Roof Leadership Award

During the International Green Roof Conference in Hamburg, Germany the green roof at the Vandusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre was awarded the IGRA Green Roof Leadership Award 2013.

The IGRA Green Roof Leadership Award stands as recognition and appreciation for outstanding examples of Green Roof architecture and Green Roof initiatives all around the world. The prize should be a signal for architects, landscape architects, city planners, municipal staff, landscape designers and real estate & property developers to explore new ideas for green urban spaces off the beaten track Some of the previous winners of this award are "The Highline" in New York, USA - "Rolls Royce production plant" in Goodwood, UK and "Fusion Opolis towers" in Singapore.

The project

The green roof of the new Visitor Centre in the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver is designed to imitate the petals of an orchid and the central atrium of the building reflects the stamen, presenting an impressive and harmonious balance between architecture and nature.

Situated on the Pacific coast, Vancouver is the largest and most powerful economic centre in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The VanDusen Botanical Garden, some 22 hectares in size, has been in existence since the 1970s. A new representative Visitor Centre, approx. 1,800 m² in size, was built there in 2011. It has a projecting green roof shaped like an orchid. As the roof pitch ranges from 2° to 55 °, different greening solutions were required. They were implemented safely and in line with the specific project requirements thanks to ZinCo technology.

The people behind the idea

The unusual orchid idea was conceived by the internationally-renowned Canadian architect Peter Busby and Canada’s leading landscape architect, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander together with their teams. Both have a strong commitment to “green building” and have demonstrated this throughout their life’s work. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, born in 1921 in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, was already considered to be a pioneer of green roofing in the 1970s. This elderly lady is known for incorporating her landscape designs into the overall architectural concept and the natural environment of a project. Her technical expertise goes hand in hand with her aim of creating cultural, social and environmental references in her work. Architects and landscape architects have together created a symbol that practically celebrates nature in an urban setting.


Besides the IGRA Award 2013, the Visitor Centre has already been awarded the LEED Platinum Standard for environmentally-friendly and sustainable building. In addition, the concept and design of the Visitor Centre complies with the stringent requirements of the Living Building Challenge LBC Standard. This is the most challenging appraisal system for “Green Building” with strict guidelines such as, the building must meet its own energy requirements with locally-sourced, renewable energy. 100 % of the water needs must be met by means of rainwater harvesting and chemical-free water preparation. Water purification is biological thanks to the plants. The bio-reactor is the first of its kind in Vancouver. Other requirements of the LBC Standard concern various aspects of healthy living such as the materials used or designing with light and greenery. Top level sustainability and environmental protection has been achieved with the VanDusen Visitor Centre as it complies with this standard – a tangible model for the 21st Century.

Site Board

Building project: Visitor Centre, VanDusen Botanical Garden

Client: VanDusen Botanical Garden Association

Architect: Peter Busby, Busby Perkins + Will Architects

Landscape architect: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Sharp & Diamond Landscape Architecture Inc.

Construction year: 2011

Roof area: approx. 1,800 m²

Roof pitch: between 2° and 55°

Green roof build-up: ZinCo system build-up with Floradrain® FD 40, Floraset® FS 75 or Georaster®

Plants: Native grass landscape

Green roof contractor: Houston Landscapes,

Consultant: Architek Sustainable Building Products

Author: Jelle Vonk, B. Sc - Account Manager ZinCo Canada Inc