By Sarah Rich, posted February 26, 2006
Green spaces can go a long way towards renewing cities. So, too, can housing developments and neighborhoods that facilitate community interaction. Bring these things together, and you have the makings of a vibrant urban community. Add bioremediation to the mix, and you have something that looks like Studio Force4's Boase Concept: "a supplement to the existing ways of urban living."
The Boase Concept begins with a forest, planted in contaminated soil in the middle of the city. Native species such as Oak and Alder, alongside Willows and Poplars (which decontaminate land and filter polluted water), create a nascent green space that will be managed over time to promote continued remediation and healthy trees.
"In the urban context, the forest becomes a structuring element that provides identity to its surroundings and serves as a navigation point. In the forest, the hectic life of the city is put in perspective."
The next phase introduces dwellings to the forest, planned as an interwoven network of private and community spaces, all raised above the ground where residents can see over the treetops. Exploring what's now a common theme among prefab designers, the living spaces combine static and flexible components. Fixed private spaces sit around a shared area, with dividers that can isolate the private residence from the commons.
"Here, social relations are strengthened, even though most inhabitants live alone. This way new communities can grow on the basis of a strong feeling of membership and sustainable commitment."
At this point, the Boase project is in concept stages, though several full-scale prototypes have been built. It's a great model for the possibilities of merging smart urban planning, environmental renewal, and green design. Hopefully, Studio Force4 will hit all the green lights they need to bring the idea to life.
The buildings in the Boase development utilize solar-collecting facades, and the common areas lie under a "solar membrane" that both collects energy and invites natural lighting inside. Modular walls permit indoor-outdoor living and abundant natural ventilation. The walkability of the area fosters a healthy lifestyle for its residents, in close proximity to the surrounding city.
"The settlement is a process where the results of research on sustainability are tested. In time the settlement will grow and spread over the ground like the branches of a tree. Its growth is not planned because it is a result of various conditions; the cleaning of the soil, the growth of the plants and the surrounding buildings."