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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Living Roof in Berlin, Germany by NAU Architect

May 22nd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

The Living Roof offers you the essence of the city. It condenses all the functions of daily life into a compact and selfsustaining capsule, intended for urban rooftops, but ready to be airlifted into the savanna at short notice. The minimal interior allows for concentrated thought and recuperation, while the highly efficient enclosure helps resolve one of the paradoxes of modern life: the contemporary citizen seeks mobility, but also wants to tread softly on the environment. For just this sort of traveler, NAU has designed the Living Roof, the first short-term housing unit to produce more energy than it consumes.

Exterior View

  • Architects: NAU Architect
  • Project: Living Roof
  • Location: Mobile but initially conceived in Berlin, germany

Off the grid


  • Length: 8.5m
  • Diameter (max): 4.1m
  • Weight: 3,870kg
  • Occupancy: 1-2 persons

Perched on a Rooftop


  • Design / Engineering: 2010 – mid 2011
  • Prototype: 2nd quarter 2012
  • Delivery to market: 4th quarter 2014

Interior in sleep mode

The Living Roof is a living environment boiled down to its most essential elements: a refuge to recover, plan excursions into the city, or simply stare into the stars. Intended as an alternative to hotel rooms or as a temporary residence for multi-city dwellers, the prefabricated 8.5m unit has an exuberant twist which shapes window flow across it toward turbines at each end. Meanwhile, its ultrainsulated shell generates electricity with integrated photovoltaic cells; the Living Roof effortlessly combines stylish living with a good conscience.

Evolving Interior Concepts

Today’s traveler, be it a short tour or a longer stay, wants to experience urban life as the locals do. Countering trends to concentrate hotel guests in tourist ghettos, the Living Roof project exists as individual suites spread throughout the city. These lodgings are located in the most sought-after quarters of the city, reflecting the variety of experiences possible. Their location changes every two years, ensuring that distribution reflects the city’s development and continues to provide unexpected adventures for repeat visitors.

Evolving Interior Concepts

City life is experienced by immediacy, occupants are enticed to absorb local culture and cuisine rather than being segregated by the hotel’s services. Thus traditional hotel lobby, bar and restaurant are replaced by a comprehensive dining and culture guide. It is updated weekly, and customized for each location and guests’ preferences, so they can eat, drink and party where the locals do. This interactive guide, complete with video preview and menu listing is available on the suite’s integrated touch screen, or can be transferred to a PDA.

Living on Roof

Checking in is a simple as inputing your guest ID on an external terminal. A hatch slides open, stairway extends, and a pleasant voice welcomes you inside.

Embedded Photovoltaic Array

Guests will first take note of the interior’s reduced palette, harmonious curves and panoramic wrap-around window bands. The real innovation however resides in the Living Roof’s accommodation of the occupant’s functional needs. Rather than dispersing different activities — increasing the unit’s size and demands for heating and cooling — a rotating ring vertically combines sleep, lounge and work areas. Guests can choose to lie in bed while gazing through a skylight, watch a film while looking out across the skyline, or do a bit of work simply by rotating the ring to the desired module. Bathing and cooking functions are sequestered at one end, assuring a bit more privacy and a firm connection to the waste water filtration system.


The feel is closer to a first class cabin than a hotel room, with flush-fit panels, built-in information systems and plenty of clever storage to stash belongings out of sight. A large information screen provides the latest dining tips or a wide screen cinematic entertainment experience. Comfortable upholstery softens the experience while the window bands provide views overlooking the city from all directions.


On the edge between hotel and residence, individuals booking a weekend getaway or frequent business travelers, will find the Living Roof an attractive option. Guests can sleep with a clean conscience; as you rest and recharge, so does the Living Roof. Even when visitors exit the unit, and set it in dormant mode, its photovoltaic array continues feeding electricity into the electrical grid or on board battery packs. Depending on guest use, over the year the suite can be a net electricity generator. This, along with a rainwater capture and gray water filtration system, make the Living Roof one of the world’s greenest structures. Luxury, style and ecology are effortlessly provided in the Living Roof, a new urban retreat.


NAU is an international, multidisciplinary design firm, spanning the spectrum from architecture and interior design to exhibitions and interactive interfaces. As futurists creating both visual design and constructed projects, NAU melds the precision of experienced builders with the imagination and attention to detail required to create innovative exhibits, public events and architecture. A story is often told not only in built form, but through lighting, media and interaction. NAU offers the rare ability to combine these elements into narrative strategies—spaces that convey new ways to live, express a company’s brand effectively or communicate information in a didactic and playful manner. Active at a variety of scales, NAU’s work includes custom furniture pieces, virtual showrooms, high-end interiors for private clients and contract work for multinational corporations.

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Category: Urban Design

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