Rooftop Republic’s projects are done on a commercial basis, so each project is a careful exploration of the economic returns that can be achieved as well as the opportunities for social experimentation around climate change and health such projects can create.
At Metroplaza, Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited the owner and manager of the mall as well as of the two overlooking office towers was looking for ways to increase overall building value. This meant “enhancing its brand image, improving engagement with visitors and tenants, and increasing footfall,” Tsui explains. “They were planning a mall refurbishment in 2017, and recognised that they had spaces within their property that had major untapped potential. They had an old playground on their roof, which over the years, became less and less visited by families or used by children.”
“So, we began working with them to show how they could transform this space into an urban farm. Unlike a landscape garden which only serves aesthetic purposes, the urban farm would help Metroplaza accomplish more of their motivations for their property revamp.
First, it combined nature and community together. The farm gives the public a green space to explore and relax.
Second, it gives the mall and the rooftop space an interesting story. Unlike a typical landscape garden, the urban farm is more unique and allows the public to interact with nature by observing and smelling all the growing fruits and vegetables.
Third, the farm acts as a natural backdrop for public workshops and events. Since the opening of the Metroplaza farm, the mall has hosted several events that tie in with the urban farming theme, such as our Little Farmers’ Programme where we teach families how to get started with growing their own food, farmers’ markets, and farm tours.”
While some activities are ticketed, like farm-to-table dining events organised in collaboration with the mall’s restaurants, the primary goal of such events is not direct income generation. The goal instead is to drive foot traffic and raise awareness of the farm.
“All of these factors help attract new shoppers and tenants for the shopping mall – especially audiences that are more interested in sustainable living. This in turn helps boost Metroplaza’s brand image and increase mall profitability,” Tsui argues.