Monday, June 30, 2008

Namba Parks

It's funny those particular projects that fly under the radar, even when you are looking straight at them. Treehugger has a case in point, from a post on Green Roofs in Osaka, particularly with the Namba Parks project.

:: image via Treehugger

Built in 2003, "Jerde Partnership Architects "conceived Namba Parks as a large park, a natural intervention in Osaka's dense and harsh urban condition. Alongside a 30-story tower, the project features a lifestyle commercial center crowned with a rooftop park that crosses multiple blocks while gradually ascending eight levels. In addition to providing a highly visible green component in a city where nature is sparse, the sloping park connects to the street, welcoming passers-by to enjoy its groves of trees, clusters of rocks, cliffs, lawn, streams, waterfalls, ponds and outdoor terraces."

:: image via Treehugger

:: image via Metaefficient

There is a bunch more info on Jerde's website, including a plethora of images. See below for some additional eye candy on this one. FYI, the landscape architect on the project is EDAW.

:: The Canyon - image via Jerde

:: additional project images - via Jerde

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Panopoly of Green Roofs

I heard recently of a conversation where one person said that green roofs are dead. I'm guessing the person that said this either had tongue planted firmly in cheek, or was sadly misinformed. Our awe and excitement has transformed itself into innovation and adoption on a wide scale. While living walls are definitely the vegitectural hero du jour, the green roof in all of it's incarnations will be around a long while.

A number of posts that weren't necessarily all of the visual elements for Veg.itecture, but alas are good info to capture and read up on the latest info. Below are short tidbits and links - aka cleaning house...

Dwell started with mentioning the growth of the industry, and a number of the incentives and grant programs that municipalities are bringing to create more projects, faster. The earliest and most robust is Chicago, which started doling out grants in 2005, and the results have paid off - with by far the greatest percentage of planted rooftops in North America. I've mentioned our new plan in Portland, and it seems Washington DC and New York both have programs in the works. Still, we have a long way to catch up to Germany... or Japan even.

:: ACROS Fukoka Building Green Roof (no not in Chicago) - image via Dwell

Dwell mentions again the popularity of green roofs, with a GRHC study showing 2.4 million square feet planted between 2006-7. It was interesting in the article featuring The Wild Project and the install techiques of green roof specialist Marni Horwitz of Alive Structures, that the project used ELT, a tray system. I'm not sure if you all are aware of my disdain for prefab systems - and she also used Styrofoam additive which is definitely a light but questionable choice. Perhaps it's just that when you specialize, you become a specialist, not necessarily an expert? I definitely will poke around the site and see if anything turns up.

:: The Wild Project Green Roof - image via

An upcoming book release (September 2008) everyone should be excited about 'Green Roofs in Sustainable Landscape Design' by Steven L. Cantor. I remember showing Steven a couple of Portland rooftops in 2004 during the Green Roof Conference in Portland, and he mentioned this book. With the dearth of green roof literature out there (but growing slowly) this will be a welcome addition to any library. As always, I will try to get an advanced copy and give everyone a sneak peek.

:: image via

Treehugger is always good for some snippets about green roofs, and their article about the new green roof accessory, bees, was no exception. The post mentions the Fairmount York Hotel in Toronto, "...where Chef David Garcelon grows herbs and vegetables. Now he has added bees."

:: Fairmount York Hotel, Toronto - image via Treehugger

Via the Globe and Mail: "The only other place that's brought bees to such heights is the Paris opera house," Royal York spokeswoman Melanie Coates told Anthony Reinhart of the Globe and Mail. He writes that Chef Garcelon came up with the idea last summer, when he noticed a multitude of bees buzzing around the herbs, vegetables and edible flowers in the raised wooden beds of the hotel's 10-year-old rooftop garden. He evidently has "visions of fresh honey dripping into his salad dressings, soups, pastries and countless other creations."

They may want some fact checking at the G&M, as the Chicago City Hall Rooftop Garden has had bees, hives and the works (from the best of my knowledge) since 2003... and the harvested honey is used to fund after-school programs... soooo... anyone confirm this fact? I'd hate to be wrong, but really, this is a blog - and I will readily print a correction/retraction :)

:: Chicago City Hall Rooftop Garden - image via

A couple from the huh? department. First, I just love the title of this article from World Architecture News (WAN) - 'The American Society of Landscape Architects builds a green roof for others to emulate'. OK, I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and I know it's heretical). It's a beautiful and successful project. It's a boon to the profession of landscape architecture and ASLA. But it is NOT, I repeat, NOT something for others to emulate. If we're using this as the pinnacle/exemplar for green roof adoption (not just as a great one off project) with it's enormous price tag - we're all doomed. Marketing it that was is just plain wrong.

:: ASLA Green Roof in Bloom - image via WAN

And while a good post - the opening page of the Treehugger story about Green Roofs at Doors Open Toronto has this shot... sorry, PVs area green technology on a roof - not a green roof... :) Plus, don't they know that the efficieny of PVs are increased with green roof additions...

:: image via Treehugger

There were some follow-up images of some great projects, including one of my favorites, the Mountain Equipment Co-op store with it's wildflowery roof.

:: image via Treehugger

Finally, I've been remiss in reviewing the innagural copy of the Living Architecture Monitor from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Caroline from GRHC was kind enough to send me a copy, and coming soon will be my take on the content of this almost singular resource for building greening. Yikes there's a new issue out - and now I'm really behind... Caroline!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Veg.itecture #31

As I mentioned, there's been a lot of activity - and now that the roots of Vegitecture have been illuminated... let's see how these buildings are dressing themselves... lots of great examples. An interesting article beyond this photo, from the NY Times article 'I’m the Designer. My Client’s the Autocrat.' which looks into the trend of starchitects working for countries with questionable human rights. Check it out, and check out the image Thom Mayne’s design for a corporate headquarters in Shanghai - build the building, save the world...

:: image via NY Times

Another from Syd Mead... a project for the Qatar Steel Corp. I had not made the connection, but via Gizmodo: "You may know "futurist" Syd Mead from his design work on geek friendly movies like Blade Runner, Tron and Aliens—but in his most recent work he envisions a future city by the name of Doha, Qatar. Naturally, his work speaks for itself, but I must admit that it stands in stark contrast to the bleak world of Blade Runner. Maybe he has become more optimistic as the years have passed."

:: image via The Design Blog

Another, via Inhabitat, is Grid House, a project in Philadelphia by Moto Designshop. A response to dense infill development, it contains a number of rooftop spaces to allow for open spaces on multiple levels.

:: images via Inhabitat

Via Bustler, Oslo Central Train Station by Norwegian architect firm, Space Group.

:: image via Bustler

A new town plan for Dubai (go figure) SMAQ (via Archinect) - a 60 hectare project named Paramount. A sustainable, mixed use village for 7000 in Dubailand (why does that sound so wrong?). Via SMAQ: "In the design, the built up area has been compressed to occupy only fifty percent of the site as a reaction to the sun condition, to achieve a compact and shaded fabric. Its structure is defined by alternating narrow pedestrian alleys and small squares, typical of Arabic towns. This urban tissue is divided in elongated islands that are orientated so to gain from the prevailing winds crossing the site. The cool breeze from the sea is channelled between the islands and through the longitudinal cuts in the urban fabric, while the hot wind from the desert is deviated above the development." More info via Cityscape Abu Dhabi.

:: images via SMAQ

Designboom featured a multi-family housing with terraced green roofs from taller13 architects.

:: image via Designboom

BDonline featured Mark Hines Architects eco-friendly community centre at Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire. The colorful green roof offers a sustainable top to this simple structure.

:: image via BDonline

Finally, MoCoLoco linked to ArchDaily with a series of 8 sweet green roof houses, the Finca El Retorno Eco Shelters,by G Ateliers. "The design acknowledges the natural beauty of the site to create 8 ecological shelters that care to minimize the impact on the site and achieve a delicate fusion of architecture and place. These shelters emerge from the topography and enhance the surrounding nature without competing with it. Corridors at the perimeter, traditional elements from the Colombian dwelling architecture are introduced to achieve a clear relationship between interior and exterior."

:: images via ArchDaily


Wow - this one has exploded in the past few weeks. I refer you to LilyPads by Vincent Callebaut Architectures. I was planning on including it in the last version of Veg.itecture #30 - but it seems as if this needs some of it's own space to breathe. This project has been everywhere, and has stirred up emotions and controversy. You can read about the project in more depth at a variety of sources, so I'm going to, per usual, go to the imagery.

:: images via Inhabitat

The project is envisioned for the year 2100, and is subtitled 'A Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees', which is definitely a present and realistic danger.

And a brief synopsis (via Callebaut's site): "It is a true amphibian half aquatic and half terrestrial city, able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and inviting the biodiversity to develop its fauna and flora around a central lagoon of soft water collecting and purifying the rain waters. This artificial lagoon is entirely immersed ballasting thus the city. It enables to live in the heart of the subaquatic depths. The multifunctional programming is based on three marinas and three mountains dedicated respectively to the work, the shops and the entertainments. The whole set is covered by a stratum of planted housing in suspended gardens and crossed by a network of streets and alleyways with organic outline. The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of the couple Human / Nature and to explore new modes of living the sea by building with fluidity collective spaces in proximity, overwhelming spaces of social inclusion suitable to the meeting of all the inhabitants – denizen or foreign-born, recent or old, young or aged people."

:: images via Inhabitat

A close up of the vegetated walls and wind generation turbines, or what I like to call 'The Seagull Blender' - I would steer cleer of the vents on those guys. :)

:: image via Inhabitat
It's definitely a large scale version of Biomimicry - as Mad Architect points out: "Inspired by the lilypad of Amazonia Victoria Regia, this floating ecopolis will be made of polyester fibres and covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2). The Lilypad City will made use of all renewable energies - solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phytopurification, biomass will produce much more energy than it consumes and also, the floating structure will “reach” zero carbon emissions as all the carbon-dioxide and the waste will be recycled."

:: image via Mad Architect

:: image via Archinect

:: Amazonia Victoria Regia (surface, bottom) - image via Archinect

While I jest with my title, it's definitely a laudable idea and something worthy of investigations (not to mention a cool vision with some great science and design to back it up). In essence, it's potentially necessary and completely plausible. A few questions, I'm sure others have kicking around (or have discussed). First, will our world possess enough foresight to build this very cool structures in time for the inevitable flooding caused by global warming? My big question is: Who get's on board? Is it the ones with the means to pay for the luxury, or is it real climate refugees in poor countries, with little fare to offer? And if there are enough of these for all - do they get segregated, or are they a real floating ecopolis utopia, where everyone lives in harmony because they are glad they survived...? While climate refugees could span economic classes - the amount of cash and amenity (as well as the 50,000 population limit) makes this an option I will guess will not be available to all.

:: image via The Design Blog

So I mentioned controversy, right? Archinect featured the project in it's showcase in mid-June - then promptly pulled the plug due to similarities to another project... in their words: "It had come to our attention that this featured project is surprisingly similar to an earlier scheme by PLOT/JDS architects title Mermaid... We're going to keep the feature offline while we explore this issue further, but feel free to review both projects, as they're both quite inspiring."

This thread was picked up by Architecture.MNP, which discussed the fact that 'Lily Pads Aren't Snowflakes...' by looking at some of the similarities between Lily Pads and the Dolphinarim and Wellness Center . PLOT - btw, was a collaboration between two firms subsequently, Julien de Smedt Architects (JDS) and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) - with this project continuing on in both names as I've seen posted. Plus, it's worth a look at the Mermaid-cliented project - where it's populated by beautiful and scantily clad - I assume, mermaids?

:: Dolphinarium and Wellness Center - PLOT - image via Architecture.MNP

While there are definite similarities, there is also a LOT of copycatting going on in design. The comment stream on Archinect showed a great example... again - between the top image - Glen Small designed Turf Town in Los Angeles (1983) and the bottom - BIG/PLOT designed Mountain Dwellings in Copenhagen (2006). This won't be the first nor last time this happens:

Similarites in design... never :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Go On Safari - Green Roof Style

This intriguing post came via Treehugger, about a new series of tours with the witty Green Roof Safari moniker. Ok, we're probably not going to encounter lions or other megafauna while atop green roofs in Germany and Switzerland, but the ability to interact with this habitat - sounds great. Tours are going in September on two separate dates, and will visit a range of projects, including:

:: Hundertwasser's Waldspirale, Darmstadt - image via Green Roof Safari

:: Green Roofs in Stuttgart - image via Green Roof Safari

:: Stuttgart, Germany 50,000 m2 Distribution Center - image via Green Roof Safari

:: Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart - image via Green Roof Safari

:: UBS Green Roof, Basel - image via Green Roof Safari

:: Peter Vetsch's "9 houses", Dietikon - image via Green Roof Safari

:: Sihlpost platforms (Biodiversity Roofs), Zurich Main Station- image via Green Roof Safari

Some details via Treehugger: "The tours are hosted by Christine Thuring of chlorophyllocity and Jörg Breuning. Christine is a Swiss-Canadian with an M.Sc. from the Centre for Green Roof Research at Pennsylvania State University. Jörg is German and works with Green Roof Service in the US."

It is interesting to see the concept of green roofs (or green buildings and other projects) being used as a method of inspiring eco-tourism. I'd guess Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, and other PNW green leaders would be able to leverage some good dollars by offering this service - particularly a combined trip. Green roofs are definitely interesting for this, as there's always issues with access and it's not as easy to have a self-guided process. A set date/time with a localized group may be the way. Maybe the money raised could go towards on-going maintenance, or R&D? Anyone want to offer this, you're tourguide awaits :)

Revisiting the High Line

Continuing the coverage of NYC's High Line project, which has been featured in detail here, and minimally here, as well as a study of one of the precedents in France here... Curbed has a multi-part feature showing the project evolving from idea, with some new renderings of Phase II. I'm trying to track down some current construction shots of Phase I - which is coming to fruition.

Starting with some of the new renderings. Via Curbed: "This morning, for the first time since 2005, we were blessed with new images of The High Line. ...we have the new sundeck water feature at the 14th Street bend, which features half an inch of running water for barefoot frolicking (and, when the weather's cold, becomes just part of the planking)."

:: image via Curbed

"The Standard Hotel is attacked by giant seagulls! That's just part of the fun at the Gansevoort Woodland and Washington Grasslands that comprise the segment just to the north of Gansevoort Street (this rendering looks north)."

:: image via Curbed

"...10th Avenue Square from above. This is definitely one of the major highlights of Phase I, especially if you like ramps to recline on."

:: image via Curbed

Finally, "An oldie but a goodie from the '05 vintage renderings release, again looking north."

:: image via Curbed

Continuing from Curbed, Pt.2, some additional new images. My favorite below, "The Woodland Flyover, which runs between 24th and 27th Streets, lifts pedestrians off up the High Line bed and sends 'em soaring into the, er, sumac trees. The sumac trees, which officials assure us are only poisonous to certain human beings, echo the old sumac grove that grew here back in the day. This is all part of a microclimate, it seems, which doesn't make this whole thing any less jaw-dropping."

:: Woodland Flyover - image via Curbed

And some more eye candy - enjoy... Check out Curbed for more full High-Line coverage.

:: Chelsea Thicket - image via Curbed

:: 23rd Street Lawn - image via Curbed

:: 26th Street Viewing Spur - image via Curbed

Finally, a big new move, the 30th Street Cutout: "Another highlight of today's announcement was most certainly the 30th Street Cut-Out, in which the High Line's concrete deck is cut away to show beams, girders, and whatever the heck sort of illicit behavior is going on down at street level."

:: image via Curbed