Plant-Integrated Architecture: The Union of City and Nature
From year to year, the concern towards global climate change continues to grow. The mounting awareness has prompted many to take action towards unearthing new ways to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint. Those on this green path of discovery have embraced the rising trend of integrating plants into large scale architectural designs.
Forms of plant-integrated architecture continue to pop up around the globe. From France to China to the Netherlands, architects everywhere are embracing greenery as a medium. Vertical planter walls and plant covered tower blocks are just some of the ways in which architects are shifting their designs in a more organic and natural direction in order to help combat the damage of global climate change.
Architect Jean Nouvel has been at the forefront of this green design movement. With his diverse projects and plans beginning to cover the globe, it is likely that this is only the beginning of this trend. For instance in Sydney, Australia the One Central Park building showcases one of the world’s tallest living walls, while in São Paulo, Brazil the Rosewood Tower, functions as a luxury hotel covered in plants.
One Central Park is currently composed of 700 residences as well as a five story shopping center. It is also currently home to 35 different plant species that live on 1,000 square meters of the building.
Jean Nouvel about the Torre Rosewood under construction in São Paulo: “This architecture will speak of the past, the present and the future. Of the past, since the scale and wood building techniques have spanned the centuries. Of the present, since we’ve consciously chosen to respect the scale and style of the dated bricks and tiles of Cidade Matarazzo Hospital. Of the future, since it will flag the fact that living at height does not mean abandoning local materials, variations, or landscapes that have gently and knowingly accompanied the lives of many generations”
Slated to open its doors in 2019, the Rosewood Tower will have a combination of plants and trees planted in the terraces surrounding the building.
Beginning his architecture career in 1970, Nouvel received his education from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and both his mentors Claude Parent and Paurl Virilio. He believes in his “ability to infuse genuine uniqueness into all the projects he undertakes”. Thus, enforcing the notion that buildings can be transformed into environments complementing the cities in which they live. His international reputation was founded on the premise of going beyond the norm of standard urban architecture.
On the Left Bank of Paris’ River Seine, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has proposed a plan to create an eco-luxury hotel. Like Nouvel, Kuma is no stranger to designing exquisite buildings that transform a space. Kuma, like others have utilized the technique of creating a façade on the side of the building using wooden blocks that allow plants to grow through. In addition, within the property, there are also plans for a huge garden in the center.
The project would also complement its neighbor connected through the garden. The hostel designed by the Parisian studio Marchi Architects welcomes the idea by stating, “In the dense urban context of the Avenue de France, we felt the need to create a green lung for the city”.
Kengo Kuma & Associates “aims to design architecture which naturally merges with its cultural and environmental surroundings, proposing gentle, human-scaled buildings”. In order to do so, Kuma is always searching for new and more eco-friendly methods and materials for his projects. Kuma’s experience and education at the University of Tokyo has enabled him to both design exquisite projects and expertly educate architecture students in both Japan and the U.S.
Italian architect Stefano Boeri has big plans to combat China’s air pollution by planting one of his “vertical forests”. Boeri defines the term as, “a model of metropolitan reforestation that conceives vegetation as an essential element of architecture”. He plans to achieve his vision for the 175 hectares of the Liuzhou Forest city by utilizing the roof tops and balconies of the skyscrapers which will run along the Liujiang River. The project will set out to encompass almost 40,000 trees and one million plants of more than 100 species.
Furthermore, Boeri plans to take his “vertical forest” to the Netherlands by creating a skyscraper filled with affordable housing that will be covered in more than 5,000 shrubs and trees. After introducing its “Green Policy Plan” Eindhoven has earned the title as one of the most eco-friendly cities in the Netherlands, thus making Boeri’s plans a welcomed addition.
Boeri has channeled his education from the Architecture at Politecnivo in Milan and Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia to create remarkable designs. Like Kuma, he has also educated students around the globe in countries such as Italy, the U.S., Russia, the Netherlands, and France. Through his work he aims to design projects that unify the city with nature.
These organic-green structures serve as both an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally beneficial purpose. Their ability to aid in wide-scale smog reduction, thus improving air quality is a large reason why they are so incredible. As the global awareness of climate change continues to increase, it is likely that more projects such as these will continue to take shape in a variety of places.
Architects such as the ones above and more have plans for projects in a multitude of cities across the globe. All of which are aspiring to aid in decreasing CO2 levels, as well as increasing both oxygen and biodiversity levels. Large urban cities with high and/or increasing pollution rates are ideal locations to integrate this innovative environmental-architecture.
We applaud the efforts by these forward-thinking architects who have stepped out of the box and created a way in which to bring nature to the city. Plant-integrated architecture has the power to greatly decrease the negative effects of global climate change as well as advance the transformation of a more environmentally sound world.