In the nebulous region where art, landscape and architecture intersect, more opportunities are emerging for seeding the urban environment with something besides Kentucky Bluegrass and strangled sidewalk trees. As urban designers continue to set precedents, we hope it will get easier for cities to bring planting into more unexpected locations, knitting bridges, roofs, and walls into greenways. At any rate, another small survey seems in order:
- Designer Francois Jegou has said, "The first guideline for sustainability is: Use what already exists". By engaging a site's history, landscape architects such as Peter Latz, and Julie Bargmann's D.I.R.T. Studio apply this notion to the postindustrial landscape, remediating brownfields or integrating parks into former factory sites.
- French botanist Patrick Blanc has developed a system for truly sublime vertically-oriented living walls. Rising to several storeys, the Mur Végétal is a tropical garden embedded into felt substrate. Applying his profound knowledge of local microclimates and plant integration, Blanc is known to be one of the only people who can pull off a lasting, self-sustaining, vertical system outdoors. Similar indoor installations claim an improvement in air quality, but who wouldn't want one in their office?
- Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham's Green Green Screen (top right) clearly uses a similar technology, though they've pulled off a reversal - integrating living walls into a temporary construction fence, they've seamlessly incorporated advertising (a requirement for the project) into the planting surface.
- Depending on where we live, green roofs can appear, in principle, mainstream; actually getting them integrated into North American cities can be a challenge. One of the primary benefits of successful eco-renovation and Green Roof projects like the Ford River Rouge Plant is the precedent they set as practical - and not simply aesthetic - solutions. Greening Gotham has pulled together a critical mass of successful local projects to develop a wide-ranging vision of a fully green-roofed NYC (just check out that animation..). As part of Earth Pledge, they've also been involved in creating green roof gardens with schoolkids and integrating kitchen gardens into rooftops.
- Renzo Piano's studio has developed a radically new profile for the new California Academy of Sciences' green roof (more on the project here) by creating a rolling, three-dimensional roof structure, now possible through advances in green roof technologies. (Though short-lived, Griffin Enright Architects' experiment Keep off the Grass - Planar Landscape Phenomena comes to mind.)
That's great! I find myself imagining the roofs of Aberdeen (where I live) covered in plants quite a lot but I figure it's too hard to explain to others what I mean. But, lo and behold, people are trying to do it in the most urban environment in the world - NYC! I can't wait to see Batman movies with him leaping through the city jumping from branch to branch a la Tarzan. Seriously, though, if somebody could show this kind of vision in a sci-fi film (the way Ridley Scott envisioned Bladerunner) it could help to spread the idea far and wide. I wonder if Hollywood would be interested......
Although the memory is dim--I saw it once around 1990--I think Hayao Miyazaki's anime film "Laputa" features a forest-city, floating in the sky.
Check out the plans for this DPZ-designed project in Rockville, MD. This project was well received at public hearings three weeks ago; approval is expected in the spring and groundbreaking in the fall.
Renderings of green-roofed loft housing structures:
Elevations of loft residential building with wind turbines, green roof, and solar collectors:
Wow. If I may praise. This means more sex in the city for the birds and the bees and butterflies! Making love to a changing world, I give it juicy kisses, loving all these new imaginal cells and forming fields of green within these erotic exotic walls of wonder, held in our embracing gaze, this g-spot of the earth! This hundreth monkey moment in time: of planted vessels climbing up walls, clasped and cladded hanging gardens pregnant with their niches. Habitats are humming thunderous applause at the whispered buzzings of wing-ed things who copulate in flight, wandering sun drenched latitudes and dappled days above our cities' gardened parapets. Sod-pieced buildings are budding all around us; beguiling, thrilling entry ways to our very own Selving cells of nurturance and decay. O play of light, O love of life! Biophilic symphonies of songbirds await us near the traffic lights at dawn. Hey, I'll meet you there. We'll smile it into being; all your dear ones near, O joy of wild desiring, child of light.