Earth Day Architecture: Real and Imagined

As we approach Earth Day 2017, would you say these are good examples of Earth Day architecture from around the world? Every building has the potential to be more “green” and sustainable, but these buildings take it a step further, or at first glance they seem to. We asked our staff for their off-the-cuff reactions and share them for your interest and amusement.

Imagined Earth Day Architecture

Imagined Earth Day Architecture

#1 Nanjing Green Towers, Nanjing, China.

Architect: Stefano Boeri Architetti. To be completed in 2018. 

DAVID: There is an old saying, “Doctors bury their mistakes, architects just grow ivy on them.” The truth is, this architecture is a good example of elegant density. The building becomes lattice work and a growing medium that brings life into a city of hard surfaces. All buildings won’t become that, but more of these kinds of buildings woven into the fabric of a city is a beautiful dream.

SAM: They call this a vertical forest…it’s great because each individual resident has an experience of the trees and plants that green the building. The building appears a bit futuristic in this rendering, but the intention is that the trees and plants soak up urban air pollution and produce clean oxygen. That’s a good thing.

LEAH: I love the idea of a skyscraper that is green. Masked with greenery, this skyscraper softens what is otherwise an environment of steel and glass. I do question the practicality of putting trees on a balcony. It seems limiting to the tree’s ability to establish roots and thrive!

RICH: I like that the trees and plants soften the overall impression of the building. It has a peaceful feeling and seems like it would attract a different type of resident compared to your typical high rise. It certainly would be oxygen rich living.

LESLIE: If I was forced to live in a bustling, energy draining, big city downtown, I’d certainly want to make this one my home above others. Every time I look at this picture, I love Boulder even more.

#2 Ann Demeulemeester Shop, Seoul, Korea.

Architect: Mass Studies. 2007.

DAVID: When I travel, I’m always attracted to buildings that over time have grown and become skinned in nature. I’ve lived in houses where that becomes a problem, with weakened grout and habitat for unwanted critters. But as an image, it’s quite alluring.

SAM: No way. Can you imagine the maintenance on the green walls? The green is used as eye candy with some benefit, but overall it would probably be a pain in the butt. I can’t get behind it.

LEAH: Looks more like a wallpaper treatment. I do like the softness of the curves.

RICH: They are just trying to use greenery as a different material. It’s not about performance. I’ve seen parking garages on the East Coast that would typically be dull and boring but they have an exterior of living, breathing plants. It really softens the hard lines of the buildings. But this building doesn’t seem to cut it.

LESLIE: Reminds me of a frozen banana dipped in chocolate. Yes, it’s green and not brown, but it just seems a bit of an unnatural “clothing” for this building.

#3 Hofskirkja Turf Church, Öræfi in Southeast Iceland.

Built by carpenter Páll Pálsson. 1884.

(We didn’t tell people this was the back side of a church until they commented.)

DAVID: Is that a real picture? It looks like a Smurf house, Smurf meets the Hobbit. It’s alluring, it’s just other worldly, an animated world with bulbous mounds of who-knows-what. I love thatched roofs and sod roofs, and in this case, the roof is married to the mounds. It looks so soft and boggy there, you might fall in between and never come out!

SAM: I would love to live here. It’s so Hobbit-like, I’d never want to leave.

LEAH: Something nice about the nostalgic, kitschy and quaint feel, those grassy knolls. The building is absorbed by the habitat. It’s a more realistic treatment than a piece of greenery in a concrete jungle. I like it. (Finally…we know where the ski moguls are stored in summer!)

RICH: What the hell is that, it looks like the house is buried! And what are those mounds? I love all the green and that the roof is an extension of the landscape, but otherwise I have a tough time with this one.

LESLIE: We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious. My preciousssssss! All Hobbit joking aside, I like it because it’s a church which is so beautifully maintained by the National Museum of Iceland. Nice.


Thanks for playing along with our Earth Day Architecture critique. Now it’s your turn….comments welcome below!