ERA Architects

Planting for an elevated bioswale in Scarborough

On a recent pleasant day in June, ERA joined green roof expert Atom Cianfarani and a group of community youth to plant a nursery in preparation for the future construction of an unusual green-roof shade structure at the East Scarborough Storefront.

Over the past year, we have been working with the Storefront, Sustainable.TO, ArchiTEXT, various volunteers, and youth participants on an exciting project in the tower neighbourhood of Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park. Soon we begin construction of a dynamic new environment including a kitchen garden and patio, a bee and butterfly garden, a small orchard, and a unique green-roof pavilion or “Sky-o-swale.”

The Sky-o-swale is so named because its roof acts as an elevated bioswale that purifies and harvests rainwater for irrigation of the adjacent gardens. Its soil is a lightweight, free draining growing medium and its vegetation consists of several sedum species of flowering succulents, which are tough, tolerant of drought, and require only a little soil.

In order to allow these plants to establish themselves, we have pre-planted a temporary nursery at ground level. After about two months it will be transferred in sections to a number of modular containers and raised to the roof level. The roof itself is to be constructed of chain-link fence fabric found onsite and suspended in a catenary curve. Once the swale is up and functioning we will monitor the system for quality and quantity of water provided.

Thanks to our Community.Design.Initiative mentors and youth for their hard work, and to Atom at AtomsEco for her valuable knowledge on bioswale and greenroof systems. Please check back for more on this project, including our youth engagement curriculum, community design process, and plans for construction.