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Reimagining MENA office rooftops after COVID

Green Roofs Dubai
Rooftops provide an alternative for safe, accessible and useful recreational and wellness spaces for occupiers, while also improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Rooftops have come into the spotlight as a "rediscovered opportunity" according to a recent report by Gensler.

Rooftop spaces are mostly used as storage areas for items such as water tanks and power generators. However, they can provide a spacious alternative for occupiers seeking fresh air, natural light, and a daily change in scenery, the report by Gensler noted.

This is especially relevant in the post-pandemic world, where outdoor space is central to occupier experience and wellness.


The report outlined a number of ways that rooftops can be repurposed to provide more value to occupiers. This would ideally depend on the purpose of the redesign — to provide small recreational spaces, or larger event spaces.

Basic requirements for the redesign would include slab reinforcement for paving and planting, and elevator and staircase (a minimum of two stairways) access. Putting vestibules in place can further help to control stack effect, allowing air to move more freely.

Rooftops can also help improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Owners can make room for green roofs and rooftop gardens for thermal benefits, replace old materials with newer, more energy efficient ones, and also put solar panels in place to create a source of renewable energy.  

Further, rooftops can be weather-proofed as well, and made available for use across seasons, by putting glass wind screens and pergola structures in place.


While buildings in Masdar City in the emirate of Abu Dhabi are designed to consume 40% lesser energy, rooftops are also fitted with a one megawatt solar rooftop system. In Saudi Arabia, APICORP got Yellow Door Energy onboard to undertake rooftop solar panel implementation, and retrofitting programs, at APICORP’s headquarters in Dammam.

Elsewhere in the UAE, Farnek is working on a 240 square metre rooftop vertical garden project with Denmark-based Urban Ponics. The vertical garden is located at Farnek’s staff accommodation centre in Farnek Village.

The garden will feature a 200 square metre shade house to provide shade for certain plants. Along with shade netting, the site will include grow pods, lava buckets, misters, pumps, water tanks, irrigation and drainage pipes. 

In Egypt, green design studio Shagara has built Green Roof Classrooms co-designed with Ikea. These pergola-like structures, made from reclaimed wood and built on rooftops, are fitted with solar panels, and include biophilic elements as well. 

FarnekGreenRoof Project.jpg

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