Sunday, February 24, 2008

Veg.itecture: S, M, L, XL

I will eventually run out of witty, thematic ways of presenting Vegetated Architecture (ok, I may already have), but in the interim, a selection of projects in a range of sizes (with apologies to Koolhaas + Mau). Of the precedents previously shown on L+U, architecture and landscape combinations range from the modest to the extreme, and these are no exception.

S: A small-scale version of a indoor planting system, via Treehugger of student work in 'eco-innovation' at the Royal College of Art. One project, entitled Verticulture, is a frame of planters with integrated irrigation, designed for urban gardens. The product site envisions the product as 'the future of vertical gardening'. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's kind of hip in that Bucky Fuller kinda way.

:: image via Treehugger

M: a modest rooftop garden for the Diane von F├╝rstenberg Studio in NYC by recent media sensations Work Architects. Found on Atelier A+D, the rooftop spaces are integrated with a columnar lightwell to bring sunlight into multiple floors throughout the space. Work Architects are quickly becoming one of my favorites (and two weeks ago, I had never even heard of them).

:: images via Atelier A+D

L At the larger scale, a recent complement to the Caixa Forum building and the implementation of rusted corten panels. In this case, the Cremorne Riverside Centre in London UK, Sarah Wigglesworth created boxes of of steel to house a canoeing club on the Thames. It's interesting to see the mixed reviews of the building, from users and media (particularly a heated exchange on the Dezeen comment forum)

:: images via BDonline

Now we may ask how this meets the idea of Veg.itecture? Well, I have yet to see an actual example of this on the above building, but it has been reported that it contains 'brown' roofs, which consist of building rubble and other aggregate (with minimal planting and other items that provide habitat for a UK native bird species, the Black Redstart. From BDonline: "The roof is EPDM covered with demolition rubble, all of which was kept on site, which is intended to encourage the insect and spider life vital to sustain rare bird species."

I'm planning a post of green/blue/brown rooftops, where I will elaborate on the differences. Below is an example of another unrelated 'brown' rooftop, similar to what is described on the Cremorne Building. This, is, large!

:: image via Urban Habitats

XL While not oversize by Foster standards, our final super-size version is of vegetated architecture, picks up or thread (albeit loosely) of habitat via brown rooftops. The new zoological park in Vincennes, France, as covered wonderfully in BLDGBLOG in the post 'Simulated Environments for Animals' by the firm of Beckmann N'Thepe Architects. The creation, according to BLDGBLOG, includes six ecosystems or 'biozones' which "...include the savannah, the equatorial African rain forest, Patagonia, French Guiana, Madagascar, and Europe. Also included are a range of artificial topographies, which create a unique environment, as well as opportunities for interactivity for the visitors.

:: images via BLDGBLOG

While zoos have a long and sordid history (and a wide range of ethical dilemmas) there is a couple of ways of looking at this. One is to view all zoos as evil and inhumane, in which there is no way to create a positive project. The second is a stance that zoological parks are necessary for protection of certain species, providing us with a valuable connection with nature, and that when created humanely with appropriate knowledge of habitat necessary are a valuable asset to humanity. If you adhere to the second view, this project looks to be an exemplar of the landscape project type.

:: images via BLDGBLOG

The size and range of vegetated architecture project ranges from the personal to the global. We find opportunities in details, projects, and landscape types - to provide gardening in small urban spaces, for the creation of poetry amidst the urban fabric, for specialized urban habitats - either for native species, or for those captive in a foreign environment. The common thread is simple - plants.

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