Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
One of the advantages of living in a city is that the urban environment is in many ways more sustainable than suburbia — mass transit provides easy access to different areas without cars or highways, and dense planning efficiently fits more people into less space. But the quintessential architectural unit of the city, the skyscraper, isn’t always the greenest method of building. Enter “farmscrapers,” a new creation by the France and Belgium-based firm Vincent Callebaut Architects.
Detail of a farmscraper unit (Image courtesy Vincent Callebaut Architects)
“Farmscraper” is the term they invented for a plan of six skyscrapers, deemed “Asian Cairns,” created for Shenzhen province in China. The towering structures are divided into ovular, blob-like sections that look like rocks smoothed by years in running water. Each blob plays host to a miniature forest of trees and grass, along with wind turbines and solar cells. Each farmscraper measures 1,300 feet high and has 111 floors, reportsNew York Daily News.
The farmscrapers are designed to act as self-contained ecosystems: The water created and collected by the planted farms will be recycled for use within the building. The farms will not necessarily produce food to sustain the community, but they will improve the city’s legendarily bad air quality. Each pebble unit will also contain a mixture of office, residential, and recreational space. By mingling efficient density with green design strategies, Callebaut is developing an architectural solution for China’s booming urban expansion. “In this context of hyper growth and accelerated urbanism, the Asian Cairns project fights for the construction of an urban multifunctional, multicultural and ecological pole,” the firm explained on World Architecture News.
Close-up of a farmscraper (Image courtesy Vincent Callebaut Architects)
Callebaut’s design may still be theoretical, but the plan to integrate environmentally friendly technology into skyscrapers has already been realized in many buildings. Milan’sBosco Verticale towers are residential towers with trees growing on modular balconies on the outside of each unit. The design would spread one hectare of forest across 27 floors,according to FastCo, while only adding five percent on to the construction costs. Harmonia 57’s Triptyque development in Sao Paulo, Brazil, embeds plants within its concrete walls.
MAD’s Urban Forest (Image courtesy inhabitat.com)
The Chinese firm MAD Architects has also design an “Urban Forest” for Chongqing. The building’s twisting, rounded slices are reminiscent of high modernism, but each level also hosts large areas of trees, similar to the farmscraper plan. It’s a way of bringing green space into an urban setting while retaining the city’s penchant for packing as much as possible into a tight space.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.
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