Roofscapes, a startup founded by three MIT students, is planning to build greenspaces on pitched roofs in Paris to decrease temperatures, improve quality of life, and boost climate resilience. Pictured is a rendering of an ongoing pilot project over a former district hall. Credit: Roofscapes Studio
When the historic cities of Europe were built hundreds of years ago, there were open green spaces all around them. But today’s city centers can be a 30-minute drive or more to the vast open greenery that earlier Europeans took for granted.
That’s what the startup Roofscapes is trying to change. The company, founded by three students from MIT’s master of architecture program, is using timber structures to turn the ubiquitous pitched roofs of Paris into accessible green spaces.
The spaces would provide a way to grow local food, anchor biodiversity, reduce the temperatures of buildings, improve air quality, increase water retention, and give residents a new way to escape the dense urban clusters of modern times.
“We see this as a way to unlock the possibilities of these buildings,” says Eytan Levi MA ’21, SM ’21, who co-founded the company with Olivier Faber MA ’23 and Tim Cousin MA ’23. “These surfaces weren’t being used otherwise but could actually have a highly positive contribution to the value of the buildings, the environment, and the lives of the people.”
For the co-founders, Roofscapes is about helping build up climate resilience for the future while improving quality of life in cities now.
“It was always important to us to work with as little contradictions to our values as possible in terms of environmental and social impact,” Faber says. “For us, Roofscapes is a way to apply some of our academic learnings to the real world in a way that is tactical and impactful, because we’re tapping into this whole issue—pitched roof adaptation—that has been ignored by traditional architecture.”
Three architects with a vision
The founders, who grew up in France, met while studying architecture as undergraduates in Switzerland, but after graduating and working at design firms for a few years, they began discussing other ways they could make a difference.
“We knew …
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