Sod Roofs

Tórshavn, with the island of Nólsoy in the background

Ordinarily when I photograph plants, they’re in natural settings. Sometimes they’re in gardens. Once in awhile I’ll do a still life.

But I never photographed plants as roofing material before going to the Faroe Islands.

the Faroese Parliament buildings (the red ones in the center), with sod roofs

Not every building in the Faroes has a sod roof, but a lot do, and they aren’t limited to farm outbuildings. Houses have them, too. Sometimes very large houses.

Even the Faroese Parliament buildings have sod roofs.

close-up of sod roof on a house in Mykines

I asked a tour guide in Mykines about them. From what I recall, there’s a base layer of tarred plywood that’s topped with layers of felt, bubble wrap, and plastic mesh; pipes on the edges keep the sod from sliding off. The pipes are often covered in strips of birch bark (the traditional base layer). Once the sod is established it makes an excellent insulator. It lasts a long time, and is inexpensive (though labor-intensive) to replace.

I was really quite taken with the combination of practicality and aesthetics.

 

sod roof in Saksun

 

 

 

 

sod roof on a house in Kirkjubøur, with sod-roofed dog house

 

 

 

 

sod roof in Gjogv

 

 

 

 

sod roofs in Saksun

the village of Funningur: a typical setting, with some sod roofs

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