Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Category: Architecture

Photos of five featured buildings, “Bosco Verticale,” Parkroyal on Pickering, Namba Parks, Ivry-sur-Seine, and the Chicland Hotel.

Literally Green Buildings

Happy 51st Earth Day! Followers of Artdog Adventures may remember earlier posts about environmentally-friendly architecture. I tend to post them around Earth Day. People sometimes talk about “green buildings.” But there’s “green” as in eco-friendly, and then there’s “green” as in literally green buildings. And some are both.

What do I mean by “literally green buildings”?

When I say “literally green buildings,” I mean green with plants. Lately, more and more architects think about plants from the very start of planning. This goes way beyond landscaping for curb appeal. They plan to make the plants part of the building.

I have lots of reasons to be interested in this intersection of beneficial plants with built environments. I’m both a lifelong gardener and the daughter of an architectural design professor who instilled a love of buildings in me. And Rana Station, the fictional setting for my XK9 stories, is kind of the ultimate “built environment with plants.”

This montage shows “25 Verde,” Boeri’s “vertical forest,” and the Chicland Hotel with vines cascading from each balcony.
At left, two views of “25 Verde,” in Turin, Italy (Haute Residence). In the center, three views of the “Bosco Verticale” or “Vertical Forest” in Milan, Italy (stacked photos: Stefano Boeri Architetti. Full-length view: Green Roofs / Laura Gatti), and two views of VTN’s concept design for the Chicland Hotel in Da Nang, Vietnam (ArchDaily / VTN).

In previous posts I’ve spotlighted projects such as Luciano Pia’s “urban treehouse25 Verde, and Stefano Boeri’s Bosco Verticale, or “vertical forest.” The Italians don’t have a corner on that market, of course. VTN Architects in Vietnam create many spectacular, plant-centric designs. So do others.

Literally green buildings since before history

People have always loved to incorporate plants into their living spaces. That’s nothing new. Trees probably provided our first shelter. And evidence of prehistoric and early-historic dugout shelters can be found all over the world. Sod roofs date into antiquity in Scandinavia for highly practical reasons.

Green roofs then and now, as described in the cutline.
Green roofs are nothing new. At left, sod roofs on log buildings in the outdoor Norsk Folkemuseum of Oslo Norway (by Kjetil Bjørnsrud – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia), contemporary green roofs that include trees on a high-rise complex (Urbanscape Architecture), and Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, where goats graze on the grassy roof (Country Living / Flickr / Jesse Lisa).

In the same way, sod homes for European migrants on the North American plains, winter houses for Aleut peoples in Alaska, and others have sheltered humans for centuries. Often grasses grew/grow on them. Sometimes animals graze on them. “Green roofs” started to get popular on city buildings in the early 1970s. That trend is still growing. They offer quite a list of benefits.

Literally green” means built for plants as well as people

For this post I’ve chosen developments that bring green spaces and plantings into exterior architecture. They are literally green buildings. Many studies have shown the benefits of green spaces and trees. And that goes double for cities.

People also incorporate “Green Walls” into indoor and outdoor spaces. I’ll focus on them in a future post. But for now, here are glimpses of three that caught my eye. I hope you like them, too.

Ivry-sur-Seine, Paris, France

Welcome to Communist France! Ivry-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb, is organized as a commune—one of several in France. And communist ideology inspired this residence development. The married architectural team of Jean Renaudie and Renée Gailhoustet designed them as affordable housing. Built between 1969 and 1975Les Etoiles” (“the stars”) are built with sharp angles on multiple levels, with many green spaces. They’re quite a unique vision. They’re also literally green buildings.

Five views of the Ivry-sur-Seine housing complex near Paris France.
Called “Les Etoiles” (“the Stars”) because of their angled shapes, these buildings present an earlier melding of nature and architecture than our other spotlighted sites. The two photos on the left are from the “KUDOYBOOK” blog, the center photo comes from @TopAmazingWorld on Twitter, and the two on the right are from Solarpunk Aesthetic on tumblr.

Namba Parks Shopping Center in Osaka, Japan

The curving lines, many levels, and distinctive plantings make this beautiful shopping district a Pinterest favorite. That’s where I first glimpsed it. Winner of an Urban Land Institute Award of Excellence in 2009, it creates a “natural intervention” in Osaka’s dense urban space. There’s a rooftop park, a “canyon” walkway, and eight levels of offices, shops, dining, and places to relax. Next door: a 46-story residential tower and a 30-story office tower.

4 views of Namba Parks from above.
Photographers from high above in neighboring high-rises have caught some great photos of Namba Parks. Top left and right, as well as the bottom photo are from ArchDaily’s article “Namba Parks / The Jerde Partnership.” Top-center “View from Above Namba Parks” is by 663highland, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia.

The Parkroyal Hotel in Singapore

Billed as a “Modern-Day Hanging Gardens of Babylon,” the sustainably-designed Parkroyal Hotel on Pickering opened in 2013. It gives another eye-opening melding of plants with architecture. The Singaporean architectural firm WOHA was already known for incorporating a lot of greenery into their buildings. They designed the balconies and other green spaces to support the weight and root systems. They also designed the plantings and specifically chose the species for ease of maintenance. I think it’s safe to say that the luxury Parkroyal on Pickering really takes the “park” part seriously.

8 photos of the Parkroyal on Pickering from a variety of angles.
If the Parkroyal Hotel on Pickering isn’t the most-photographed hotel in Singapore, it’s got to be right up there in the top ten. I found so many great shots of this place it was hard to narrow it down to just eight! Most of the photos in this collection are from Trip Advisor’s enormous gallery in its article on this highly-rated luxury hotel. That includes the one at lower left from a contributor identified as “Mcfulcher,” and the dizzying view down past the balconies to the street next to it, by a contributor identified as “cwydyy.” Others came from the hotel itself, except for the side-by-side photos at top far left and left. They’re courtesy of Forbes, provided by WOHA, the architectural firm that designed this unique bulding. You can especially see the deep, sturdy structure that securely supports all the verdant plant life in the photos at far left.


It worked out better this time to ID the photo credits in the cutlines for each montage. See those for the most complete information.

The exception is the Header photo. In that montage, which doesn’t get a cutline. I collected five of the most unique buildings featured in this post. L-R: First the “Bosco Verticale” or “Vertical Forest” in Milan, Italy (Green Roofs / Laura Gatti). Next, the Parkroyal Hotel on Pickering in Singapore (Trip Advisor / “cwydyy”). At center, “View from Above Namba Parks” in Osaka, Japan (663highland, CC BY 2.5 / Wikimedia). Next comes a view of “Les Etoiles” of Ivry-sur-Seine near Paris, France (@TopAmazingWorld / Twitter). At far right, VTN’s concept for the Chicland Hotel in Da Nang, Vietnam (ArchDaily / VTN).

Wishing you a magical Summer Solstice

The Artdog Image of Interest

Do you love time lapse photography? I certainly do. I went looking for a good image to wish you a magical Summer Solstice, for this post. When I stumbled across a time lapse image of the sun rising at Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice, I was delighted. I hope you are, too!

This sequence was taken at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, UK, in 2018. Just watching the video made me feel a little bit the way I did after the eclipse in 2017 (even though it was cloudy, it was still magical). I can imagine how breathtaking it might be to see the Solstice at Stonehenge in person

Incidentally, the people-watching is pretty interesting, too. 

My Beloved, of course, puts his own spin on Solstices. He traditionally greets the Winter Solstice in shorts, flipflops, sunglasses, and maybe a Hawaiian shirt, to crow about how it’s all going to be warmer and brighter from here on out. Conversely, the Summer Solstice is his cue to bemoan the the fading of the light. “Can’t you feel the chill already?”

However you spend it, I hope your Summer Solstice is warm, bright, wonderful . . . dare I say magical? And ideally, also full of interesting characters.

A design image of a yellow and orange sunrise, with summer prairie plants, butterflies, and grasses in dark orange and dark brown silhouette form the background of this image. across the top and bottom are white letters in a decorative font that read, "Wishing you a magical Summer Solstice."

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to English Heritage, for the marvelous time lapse video taken at Stonehenge on the Solstice in 2018. 

The “Wishing you a magical Summer Solstice” image has a multi-part history. I wasn’t able to find a current website for Avalon Raven Design. According to the invaluable TinEye Reverse Image Search, it began life as a stock vector image in 2008. However it evolved, I hope you enjoy the final image!

Apartments built like . . . a tree?

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.

The photo shows a wide shot, possibly photgraphed from a drone, of the 24 Verde apartment complex, complete with its urban forest, from about a block away and a fairly high vantage point.

A different take on a “urban forest”

The Artdog Image of Interest

I’m focusing on “green” architecture this month. Not only green as environmentally sustainable, but green as in there are lots of plants incorporated into the design. In this case, it’s an urban apartment building that is designed to incorporate a small “forest” of about 50 trees.

This video shares photos and several people’s thoughts about a project called 25 Verde in Turin, Italy. It’s an apartment building designed by architect Luciano Pia.

As a gardener, I definitely understand the concern by the gentleman from the German Green Building Council over the high-maintenance aspects, but it sure is a cool-looking place to live!

VIDEO: Many thanks to international broadcaster Deutche Welle for this YouTube video. I also am grateful to DesignBoom and photographer Beppe Giardino for the featured image.

8 incredible environmentally friendly buildings

The Artdog Image of Interest

In honor of Earth Day, this month I’m exploring YouTube videos that show some amazing environmentally efficient architecture

Today’s video explores eight different buildings on the cutting edge of sustainability. Several even generate more energy than they can use.

VIDEO: Many thanks to All Things Human’s YouTube Channel, for this video.

1957’s Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland

The Artdog Image of Interest

Today’s opening video offers a short (approximately 1-minute) glimpse of what was once a famous part of Disney’s “Tomorrowland” at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, CA.

The video clip offers a sampling from a much longer videofor viewers in a hurry. Below I’ve embedded what seems like a much more complete version, which is not quite 13 minutes long, for those who have time to view it.

Created by Monsantolargely as a way of showcasing innovations made possible by synthetic materials used in home construction, the longer video goes into considerable detail about using man-made materials all over the house.

Although the “House of the Future” has since been demolished and the original Tomorrowland looks like a campy, mid-century “retro” future today, many of its predictions have indeed become true. We do cook with microwaves now, and our homes are filled with synthetics. Of course, in 1957 no one was thinking or talking about potential risks, especially to firefighters.

My Images of Interest in October have all been videos drawn from a panel discussion, “Yesterday’s Tomorrow,” moderated by Kathryn Sullivan, in which I participated at FenCon XV. I shared these videos with the audience, and they generated enough interest that I thought my blog-readers might like them too!

VIDEOS: many thanks to YouTube and The Associated Press for the shorter video, as well as YouTube again and David Oneal‘s Extinct Attractions for the longer one.

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