Part of winning local approval for an assembly plant in the picturesque countryside near Goodwood, England, was an agreement by Rolls-Royce to cover the roof with live grass.
The BMW-owned automaker has done so to assure that even the tiny portion of the roof still visible on the skyline would blend in with the fields around it. But the locals say Rolls’ grass isn’t growing fast enough: the roof, it seems, is embarrassingly bare, and what little that has grown is patchy and brown.
Rolls-Royce CEO Ian Robertson concedes the point but argues that the sedum grass specified by architects Grimshaw and Partners was never designed to grow fast. “We’ve planted 3,500 trees and 300,000 plants and shrubs,” he says. “But it takes three years for the sedum plants to become established. Grass which grows rapidly is no good – you can’t have people up there mowing it all the time.”
Robertson argues sedum is a mossy plant that changes color as the seasons change. Sometimes it can even look like a plowed field – perfect camouflage in Sussex in winter.