The Artdog Image of Interest

The last time friends went apartment-hunting, they didn’t look for apartments built like a tree. But the Montpellier “L’Arbre Blanc” (“The White Tree,” also called the “White Space Tree“) project gives an example why “biomimicry” is a growing design trend.

Architect Sou Fujimoto designed this building for a site along the Lez River in Montpellier on the French Riviera. This apartment building “built like a tree” expresses Fujimoto’s design approach based on a “relationship between his architecture and nature.”

Fujimoto and his associates conceived the project in 2013-14. Construction started in 2015 and continued into 2018. The project’s leaders realized “that in this city, people live outside.” According to Manal Radche of OXO Architects, one of the firms involved, that guided their design, which incorporates 193 balconies.

The "White Tree" apartments under construction.

Montpellier is only 10 km from the Mediterranean coast. It has a mild, sunny climate. “Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun,” Radche explained to Fast Company in 2014.

The 40-million Euro building will be a mixed-use space, with apartments above but also “offices, a restaurant, a bar, and an art gallery.” Passive cooling strategies help mitigate how much locally-sourced renewable energy the building needs.

All through April, I featured a series of architectural projects inspired by, and built to incorporate, trees. This post was delayed till May by problems with my website, which I now hope have been resolved.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Designboom for the featured image, to 1OneMinuteNews on YouTube, for the video, and to 3 Occitanie for the photo of the apartment building under construction.