Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ground to Sky Connection

The idea and concept of connecting landscape from ground to sky (from terra firma to veg.itecture, if you will)- offers some great possibilities in the integration of site and building. This offers access to open space (with the obvious safety precautions) as well as the potential for aesthetic opportunities, and habitat linkages. And similarly to an earth-sheltered form of construction - there are numerous micro-environmental and energy saving opportunities for integrated design.

There are a good number of projects with features such as this that have been featured on L+U. A quick perusal showed 10 or so great examples already (ok, a quick perusal is no longer possible, which is a good thing, right?) A number of recent projects tend more towards the grassy, but are no less integrated in their approach. Via Designboom, the Delft University Library from 1998, from the interestingly named Dutch firm, Mecanoo - offers a good simple and elegant example of the concept.

:: image via Designboom

A great example from Inhabitat, for the Hayle Estuary by GHK International in Cornwall, England. This Ecolodge offers a great example of fully integrated connectivity, along with a rooftop cafe, great for birdwatching.

:: images via Inhabitat

A really stunning example is more of an earth-sheltered analog, made to fit into the organic natural surroundings via The Design Blog. Located in Seville, Spain, the Casa de Retiro Espiritual by Emilio Ambasz is worth a look.

:: images via The Design Blog

The more illustrative Sinosteel International Plaza by MAD shows a small building area tucked under the base of these towers in Tinajin, China.

:: images via Dezeen

Finally, the Cap Gemini Campus in Utrecht, Netherlands with a undulating grassy cap (via Arch Daily). Designed by de Architekten Cie and Veenendaal Bocanet & Partners, this project includes a central plaza to connect the five separate buildings.

:: images via Arch Daily

While not usually a fan of full grass atop rooftops, it is pretty stunning, and definitely a good material for a uniform surface material - as well as accessible space. It's interesting to see a couple of things... how it fits into a modern aesthetic that include spare plantings (typically with the building inside the flat greensward) and eschews some of the more picturesque foundation plantings. There are a few trees, but it also is a looks to be a pretty sterile space - more fishbowl than public park?

:: images via Arch Daily

One interesting aerial shot showed some drying at one of the areas, presumably at the thinner soil depths - it'd be interesting to see water usage and maintenance for this monoculture, as opposed to lawn on ground level, or other rooftop plantings. Must be interesting to see this year-round.

:: image via Arch Daily

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