Sunday, March 23, 2008

Veg.itecture #18

A significant number of Vegetated Architecture examples with facade and rooftop greening strategies. I hope no one suffers from sensory overload with this weekends dual Veg.itecture posts, so without further ado, the projects:
I spotted this project by Veg.itect Jean Nouvel via Dezain for the "Building C1" in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, and it was a pretty interesting form. Some more info showed up on designboom, along with an architect's statement, "'...this non tower is about stratification, about stacking, about finding reasons to invent terraces, fictitious horizons, contrasts, about revealing references, diversities, interferences with nature, a distant dialogue with saint-cloud hillside. the intention is for people to feel that the space that they live or work in is different from their neighbor's place - the people who use this building are not numbers."

:: images via designboom

Another recent example was featured on both Pruned and Treehugger (both via Archinect) for the evolo skyscraper competition entry entitled 'Symbiotic Interlock' by Daekwon Park. Both representationally and conceptually, this project continues the emerging dialogue about the use of facades for more functional uses such as food production and power generation. In terms of tall skyscrapers with small footprints and by default, small roofprints, the greening of the upper surface has certain limitations - so looking at other opportunities for functional greening makes sense. (Read more about this in previous L+U posts 'Building Edges' and 'Defining Moments')

:: image via Treehugger

Quoting Treehugger: "Clipping onto the exterior of existing buildings, a series of prefabricated modules serving different functions would be stacked on top of each other, adding a layer of green space for gardening, wind turbines or social uses to make new green façades and infrastructures."

:: images via Treehugger

The concept of adaptive reuse - or attaching new structures to existing is a novel concept for future increasing of urban density as well by not removal but augmentation of the existing structures - a way of updating without starting over in some cases. It also expands on the concept of using building-related and urban microclimates, particularly for site-specific generation of wind power (see image above) - taking the phenomenon of wind tunnels created due to building mass and creating some benefit from this.

:: image via Pruned

The coverage definitely picks on these threads of maximizing opportunities in urban areas, and the large amount of surface area on urban building facades. Obviously, this brings up certain more challenging technical aspects of the gravity-defying nature of greening building edges, which has been extensively covered here. These concept are still more representational than realistic, but it's compelling in expanding the dialogue (and technical problem solving) of what is possible. The challenge for designers: Make these fantastically wild ideas and make them work.

:: images via Pruned

One of my favorites of the evolo entries summary on Treehugger was from Claudiu Barsan-Pipu, Oana Nituica, Irina Dragomir and Bogdan Ispas and their vision of an 'Urban Bypass' in Bucharest with hanging pods of structured greenery along elevated tracks. Wha?

:: image via Treehugger

Back to Nouvel for a second - a cadre of projects for a current competition for the Tour Signal which envisions a new tower in the La Défense business district in Paris. While representational, it's a testament to the vertical greening phenomenon (and quite provocative idea) of diagrammatically showing the building program and potential form. Also, this seemed to be the only shortlisted submittal (along with Libeskind, Foster+Partners, Jacques Ferrier, and Wilmotte et Associes) with any significant greening (at least of the visible kind.)

:: image via Dezeen

And some new visions. The first from World Architecture News, we go to Dubai (again) and a new building that: "...includes a series of internal and external public spaces with treelined streets, light filled atria and rooftop gardens; places for people to live, work and enjoy life. The project will provide a unique human-scaled urban environment with over 1 million square metres (10 million sq ft) of developable area."

:: image via WAN

And a fantastically simple rooftop pattern garden by una2 architectti associati (via eye candy):

:: image via eye candy

Again the idea of building greening expanding beyond the rooftop to the building facades is a powerful paradigm shift that has gained considerable momentum in the past year or so. As mentioned, the next leap, one that has been handled successfully by Patrick Blanc and a handful of others, is to make this vertical greening a reality through parsing the technical aspects. I have mentioned a couple of times the need to get into the technical details and specifications (systems, plants, media, irrigation) - and it seems a fitting opportunity. Look for more soon.


  1. Hi Jason,
    Very cool blog you have going on here. Wanted to let you and your visitors know about our organization, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the nonprofit association for the green roof industry in North America and beyond. Check out
    We also publish a new magazine which may be of interest...called the Living Architecture Monitor and in Baltimore from April 30 to May 2, we are hosting our sixth annual conference, awards and trade show. Keep up the great work

  2. The images in this posting are crazy-daisy. To me, they look like buildings green-washed. How are they genuinely dealing with and re-gearing resource flows around the city and/or changing life styles? This looks like propaganda, arguing that cities can be modernisch in a boring twentieth century way as well as self-sustaining. Do you think that there is anything self-sustaining about these visions?

  3. AP... Crazy-daisy is a technical term right? :) I hear what you are saying. A good portion of the work that is shown on this blog has a large implied question mark over it, as in 'how does this work?' or 'what is the purpose of this?'. I try to parse the viability and technical sides as much as possible, but a good amount of this is mere visual fodder. For projects that are built - it's a slightly easier task, but still has questions about true sustainability. Look at any LEED building and I will ask the same questions?

    This work is visual fodder and perhaps visionary but I don't think it has no value to the greater discussion of Vegetated Architecture, green design, etc. Personally, I definitely don't think this is going to be the actual future. There will be threads of this in the reality that is constructed though.

    As for self-sustaining, maybe? I don't know. Integrated wind power, vertical greening that contributes to building energy strategies, views of plant life and nature, biofiltration with the natural function of plants, rooftop food production - all are aspects of this self-sufficiency. Will they work in these buildings? Not sure.

    But the vision is good - because it is proposing an important question, and also striving for an important goal - this self-sufficiency you speak of. The dialogue around these visions - not just our reactions of 'ohh' or 'ugh' is how we actually accomplish this - which I believe is the true vehicle to paradigm shifts and change.

    Thanks so much for the provocative post - and keep the dialogue going!

  4. Jason, don't get me wrong. I'm just airing my confusion. Sustainable green living and scale...on the one hand there are mega-Norman Foster architectural schemes just now in Russia that are 'sustainable cities'. On the other, hotel rooms in 'compact' sustainable cities are shrinking. I'm all mixed up about sustainability and scale and the scale of the schemes u show confuse me. Or more likely I should have concentrated in my math lessons in the past to be more equipped to be able to run a slide rule over stuff!

  5. I think this concept and question of scale (and the ability to apply sustainability to a range of nested scales) is interesting - look for a post as soon as I can track down some information, as I know of some interesting writings that have addressed this in some compelling ways.

  6. On the one hand schemes that claim to be sustainable get bigger and bigger; on the other, starter homes are getting smaller and cabin concept hotels thrive.

    in other words, cities are becoming more compact and a chasm is starting to open up in which the big get bigger and the smaller more boutique.

    the planetary question is carbon efficiency.

    but i do wonder whether your blog is starting to (helpfully) put (or is it point?) a finger at an epic phase of development.


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