SUSTAINABLE CITY OF TOMORROW
FLYING CARS, TALKING HUMANOID ROBOTS AND INCREDIBLY HIGH-TECH BUILDINGS ARE IMAGINATIONS OF THE FUTURE WE CONSTANTLY SEE IN MOVIES—BUT WITH EARTH’S DAYS NUMBERED, THIS FICTIONAL CIVILISATION MAY JUST BECOME A REALITY IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE.
If you have seen the movie ‘Tomorrowland’ early this year, you would understand the urge to peer into the future just to see how technology would change the way we live. Much like the optimistic 11-year-old character, Frank, Belgian Eco-Utopian architect, Vincent Callebaut creates hopeful otherworldly projects in his mind to solve the world’s environmental problems and promote sustainability. At a glance, these designs resemble an alien civilisation out of a science fiction—but they hold a promise of a world where humanity finally finds a balance between economic success and ecological equilibrium to solve our sustainability crisis. According to the United Nations, the world is undergoing the largest wave of urban migration in history right now where 54% of the population live in urban areas. These cities are currently responsible for almost 80% of CO2 emissions and 75% of the total world energy consumption; and with the number of city population projected to increase to 66% by 2050, it is unimaginable the kind of air we would be breathing in by then. During the 2005 Earth Summit, issues such as climate change and rising sea levels; natural and environmental disasters; management of wastes; coastal, marine, freshwater, land, energy, tourism and biodiversity resources; transportation and communication; sustainable production and consumption, capacity development, and education for sustainable development; health; culture; knowledge management and information for decision-making were addressed. The planet is in a state of decline and there hasn’t been enough proactive initiatives taken in saving Mother Earth. Outlandish and futuristic as it may seem, the core of Callebaut’s designs is an attempt to address the real threat these cities pose for humankind and our ecological balance. It’s no surprise that the man received countless of international nominations and awards for his magnificent work. Callebaut’s creations may not be realised today, but they give hope for a better tomorrow. One of his current award-winning projects is “Agora Garden”, an ecological residential tower at the bottom of Taipei 101 which is expected to be completed in 2016. Here is a look at Callebaut’s other notable eco-friendly designs:
PARIS SMART CITY 2050
This project is a result of R&D carried out by Callebaut Architectures agency and the engineers of Setec Bâtiment last year as part of their effort to reduce 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and combat the urban heatisland phenomenon. The energy-plus (BEPOS) technology is integrated with the building in order to have a structure that produces more energy than it consumes and is able to create energy to be supplied to the surrounding areas. Eight prototypes of mixed towers— Mountain Towers, Antismog Towers, Photosynthesis Towers, Bamboo Nest Towers, Honeycomb Towers, Farmscrapers Towers, Mangrove Towers and Bridge Towers— are designed to be able to utilise natural energy provision without conversion into another form of energy; this energy is renewable, inexhaustible and inexpensive. The building thrives on natural ventilation, optimisation of natural light and the correct placement of the windows and roof.
WOODEN ORCHIDS, A PIONEER SHOPING HUB
The Wooden Orchids is an eco-responsible pioneer shopping hub intended to solve the migration of rural population into super cities which contributes to overcrowding, pollution and substandard living. The project explores the integration of flowers into the designs and lending it a powerful image by taking inspiration from the structure of orchids which in ancient China, is considered the Queen of Flowers and is a symbol of fecundity. There are 8 key technologies integrated in this new prototype of green shopping complex. They are low carbon transportation, green infrastructure, renewable energy sources, smart city technologies, natural building materials and innovative construction techniques. The combination of passive bioclimatic principles and renewable energy technology can save up to 70% of energy and decrease its carbon footprint. In order to keep the people physically and socially healthy, the rooftop is made into an activity one-stop centre that features playgrounds for the children, sports areas, food gardens and community orchards that provide fresh produce and plants.
LILYPAD, A FLOATING ECOPOLIS FOR CLIMATIC REFUGEES
The idea of Lilypad may seem a little sci-fi, but not the slightest bit far-fetched with the climate getting increasingly warmer, melting of the ice caps and the rise of ocean level. According to forecast by the GIEC (Intergovernmental group on the evolution of the climate), a temperature elevation of 1°C will bring about a 1 meter rise in water level, which brings ground losses to an approximate of 0.05% in Uruguay, 1% in Egypt, 6% in the Netherlands, 17.5% in Bangladesh and up to 80% in the atoll Majuro in Oceania. This has been projected to create 250 million climatic refugees. The Lilypad is designed as a solution to this worldwide ecological crisis. This artificial lagoon is able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and travels on the water line of the oceans. The bottom portion is submerged underwater and allows people to live in the depths of the ocean. It is self-sufficient and is able to tackle possible challenges in the climate, biodiversity, water and health.
THE GATE RESIDENCE, A SMART MULTIUSE COMPLEX
The Gate Residence is an innovative creation of green building aimed to raise awareness of green sustainable architecture to fight against global warming and maintain an eco-friendly earth for our next generation. Set to be built in a very strategic location in Cairo, it is a highly ambitious project that dabbles with green energy and technology, combining trees and buildings to transform the city into a vertical, green, dense and hyperconnected ecosystem. Part of the creative invention is a solar roof that stretches over the shopping area, green terraces and sky villas that provide shelter where necessary, thus decreasing the demand in mechanical ventilation and maximising green energy. Taking bioclimatic elements into its design, the project aims to reduce the dependency on mechanical ventilation and artificial lighting.
DRAGONFLY, A METABOLIC FARM FOR URBAN AGRICULTURE
Here’s something you don’t come across very often— a farm in the city. According to the Programme of the United Nations for the Development (PUND), the worldwide urban population will increase from 3.1 billion in 2009 to 5.5 billion by 2025. Callebaut foresees a problem feeding a rapidly growing population, therefore the obvious solution to him is to create an urban agriculture platform to ease the burden of production—not only will this reduce our fuel consumption, it will also increase the food quality of city dwellers by keeping the food toxin-free due to less preservation needed. The aim is to make these cities less dependent on its backcountry and more self-sufficient. The dragonfly project offers a mixed programme of housing, offices and laboratories (in ecological engineering), as well as farming spaces which are vertically laid out in several floors and partly cultivated by its own inhabitants. These vertical gardens are able to filter rain water and process liquid wastes of the tower inhabitants for farming reuse.
FLAVOURS ORCHARDS, 45 PLUS- ENERGY VILLAS IN A SMART GRID
The “Flavours Orchard” project is another design by Callebaut that prioritises biodiversity and higher production rather than consumption of energy. The idea is to build 45 Plus-Energy Villas in a huge community orchard that is integrated with a Smart Grid managed by the inhabitants themselves. The Smart Grid encompasses a smart building automation system and an intelligent energy network that will redistribute any excess energy produced towards the nearby needs. The 45 Plus-Energy Villas are able to produce more renewable energy sources within a year than the amount it consumes from external sources. This results in cost reduction and increased functionality. This is achieved by the way the villa is designed—the large windows are installed facing the North and South to allow sunlight penetration. Triple-glazed windows reduce heat transfer thus eliminating the need for air cooling units while the addition of heavy insulation captures heat during the day in order to reduce the need to generate heat overnight.