A Carbon-Absorbing Vertical Forest,

Taipei 2010-2021,


TYPE: International Competition - First Prize Winner in November 2010

INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECT: Vincent Callebaut Architectures, Paris

CLIENT: BES Engineering Corporation, Taipei

CONTRACTOR: Taiwan Kumagai Co, Ltd

CONTRACT LOCATION: XinYin District, Taipei City, Taiwan

PROGRAM: 42 Sustainable Apartments + Facilities

SURFACE AREA: 42.335.34 m²

DELIVERY: June 2018

CURRENT PHASE: Under construction

GREEN CERTIFICATION: U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Gold + Low Carbon Building Alliance, Diamond Level


STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: King Le Chang & Associates, Taipei

LOCAL MEP ENGINEERING: Sine & Associates, Taipei



LOCAL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Horizon & Atmosphere (H&A), Taipei

INTERNATIONAL LIGHTING DESIGNER: L'Observatoire International, New-York



VCA’S TEAM: Emilie Diers, Frederique Beck, Jiao Yang, Florence Mauny,

Volker Erlich, Philippe Steels, Marco Conti Sikic, Benoit Patterlini, Maguy Delrieu, Vincent Callebaut

MODEL MAKER: Patrick Laurent

WEBSITE : http://www.tao-zhu.com.tw/index-en.html

« TAO ZHU YIN YUAN », A Carbon-Absorbing Vertical Forest 

Taipei, Taiwan, by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, Paris


The main target of « Tao Zhu Yin Yuan » project has been devoted to promoting carbon‐absorbing architecture, in order to decrease the temperature of the Earth. Faced with the crisis of global warming and climate change, it is must be participation of all enterprises in urging the governments to draft incentive programs that world lead to carbon reduction in the sector of industry, transportation and daily life. 

This project also carries out Fan’s Li philosophy and think of the world as one community. It makes changes that bring benefits to not only ourselves but to neighbor or even the entire world.  

The architectural concept is to eco‐design an energy selfsufficient building, whose energy is electric, thermal and also alimentary. The “Tao Zhu Yin Yuan” tower is directly inspired of the structure in double helix of the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), source of life, dynamism and twinning. Every double helix is represented in the project by two housing units forming a full level. 

Thus, from its base to the top, the 20 inhabited levels in double helix stretch themselves and twist themselves at 90 degrees.

The 4 main objectives of this twisting shape are :

• Perfectly integrated in the North / South pyramidal profile of the Building Volume defined with the urban setbacks required by the Municiplaity of Taipei.

• Generate a maximum of cascades of suspended open‐air gardens, not part of the F.A.R (floor area ratio). Thus, the planted balconies surface area can exceed the limit of the required 10%.

• Offer to each inhabitant exceptional panoramic views on the skyline of Taipei by multiplying the transversal views, especially towards the very close Taipei 101 tower.

• Generate from a flexible standardized level a progressive geometry with corbels which provides intimacy and confidentiality to each apartment by avoiding the indiscreet vision axes.

Every floor is rotated by 4.5 degrees clockwise as the tower moves up, to a total of 90 degrees. When viewed from different angles, the tower transforms into a myriad of forms. The four main profiles of the twisted building are : pyramid, cross, reverse pyramid and ellipse.


To implement symbiosis with natural environment, Tao Zhu Yin Yuan covers its open spaces with trees, planting approximately 23,000 trees, shrubs and plants on the ground floor garden, the balconies and terraces of each household. The annual carbon absorption reaches around 130 tons with green coverage at 246%, which is nearly 5 times higher than local regulation, making it a colorful urban forest park in all seasons. In order to increase the volume in absorbing carbon, multiple species of trees with better carbon absorption volume are planted by specialized botanists to contribute to protecting the air quality.

The growing plants on balconies provide oxygen, moisture environment, also mitigate the noise from surroundings. The planting, has characters of seasonal changes, provides umbrageous, and fresh air in summer, warmth and ventilation in winter. 

Furthermore, the tower integrates natural ventilation chimneys filtering the air inside the central core, rainwater recycle, wireless monitor control of LED lighting, fiber optic connection, light guide system and solar/wind power to achieve energy saving and carbon reduction.

Tao Zhu Yin Yuan identifies as a forest architecture showing great combination of innovative science, bioclimatic passive systems and pro-active technologies into architecture. The greening system of this project are featuring on its balcony: vertically revolving balcony. The characteristic of revolving balconies is to shape spaces for rich plants and sun‐light on each building layer :

- 165 m² of ambient sky garden for each unit

- 270 degree panoramic magnificent big vision

- 14 big trees planted for each floor

- 6600 m² of artistic park retained on ground level

The circumference of the site is planted with high hedgerows and about 100 arbors grow on the artistic park that both create a lush forest. The base is also shrinked back and setup 5 to 6.5 meters sidewalk with public green space.

Air Purifier City Forest

Tao Zhu Yin Yuan presents a pioneer concept of sustainable residential eco‐construction that aims at limiting the ecologic footprint of its inhabitants by researching the right symbiosis between the human being and the Nature.

Part of the concept of inhabited and cultivated vertical farm through its own inhabitants, this project of residential tower enables first to design by its avant-gardist architecture a new lifestyle in accordance with the nature and the climate. 

The architectural concept is thus to ecodesign an air purifier and energy self‐sufficient tower, whose energy is electric, thermal and also alimentary.

To combat the problem of air pollution, « Air Purifier Tower » or « Anti-Smog Tower » like Tao Zhu Yin Yuan is a building integrating a vertical chimney, in that case the central core with its double skin facade, which extracts air at ground level by heating it in a specially adapted glass greenhouse at the base before letting the air pass through a series of filters and releasing clean air at the top. The heating at the base of the tower is done using solar energy.


Structural design found inspiration in the body structure of the skier in the design of the tower. The central core of the tower is the human body. The 5‐meter truss structure above 21F are the two arms. The megacolumns on the two sides are the ski poles. A suspended structural system and a Vierendeel truss system (a set of beams for every two floors) transfer all the weight via the arms (beams) to the body (central core) and then down to the foundation. The result is a one‐of‐a‐kind structural design that combines the science of mechanics and the art of aesthetics.

Tao Zhu Yin Yuan is of high toughness and highly earthquake resisting, ensuring the sturdiness of the building. Effectively, the tower integrates also a nuclear plant‐grade seismic concept. The design peak ground acceleration is 400 gal. The shock insulation design developed by the company EPS Inc. (Earthquake protection System) integrated under the basement floors can resist the highest Class 7 earthquake (China Liedu 9, surface acceleration PGA=0.40g) and remains unharmed after the earthquake without ductile fracture. This exceeds the maximum consideration under 2500 years return period for earthquake as specified by Seismic Design Specifications of Ministry of Interior, allowing the strength of the house to last long as the surface of the earth.

Applying the Taiji concept of the unceasing cycle of life, every floor is rotated by 4.5 degrees to a total of 90 degrees for the entire tower. The scheme also features 270‐degree views, double‐floor design, completely column‐free interior space and columnless odd‐floor perimeters to give exceptional flexibility and freedom in interior planning for each resident !

Innovative interior column free design in structure allows you an even wider window view to truly enjoy the beautiful hanging gardens.

In addition, the structural design proposes :

- Up up construction and ACE up construction.

- Backfill and reuse original slurry wall to reduce contraction waste.

- Using the Seismic isolation joints around the basement and double glass skin system around the core to create natural ventilation and light guide design.

Vertical Greening developed with Tree Doctor

In addition to landscaping for ground floor, this project also increase the greening place for each balcony to be vertical greening and creating beautiful city skyline. In order to ensure the subsistence of plants in high‐rise residential buildings, we employed sunlight analysis and thermal analysis but also 

the wind and rain test to simulate the situation of typhoon and heavy rain in Taiwan. 

Besides, the professional « Tree Doctor » Dr. Zhang Fong-Chun from Japan who confirmed the appropriateness of arrangements and selections of all arbors and shrubs for this project. The Tree Doctor dedicates herself to the coexistence of nature in the city, using co-exist naturally and right land for the right trees perspective to ensure the health of trees in urban environment. She also introduces micrometeorology elements to fully exert the function of trees and the requirements in landscape. At the same time she conducts fundamental investigations on planting trees to ensure the adaptation of plants in this new vertical forest.

In addition, the structural design also considers the loading and the space of covered depth for plants on the balcony. In particular, pipelines allocations, drainage system and stainless steel planter boxes are perfectly integrated in the thickness of the double floors (compound slabs) of the balconies.


Tao Zhu Yin Yuan is ecoconceived to increase the wellness and the heathlyness of its residents as follows : 


- Bio-based and recyclable Materials : for interior decoration are environmentally friendly and respect the circular economy.

- Breathable Parking Space : seismic isolation joints and windows from ground floor introduce direct air into B1F - B4F, permeating the basement with fresh environment. Moreover, the seismic isolation joints and the double wall of the basement are used to create natural ventilation and natural light design for a more comfortably parking space.


- Double glass skin facade : is used around the central core creating natural ventilation that can reduce indoor temperature and decrease the air conditioning consumption.

- Double‐decks (compound slabs) : allows total freedom in arranging the kitchen, baths and bedrooms as well as any future renovations. Maintenance of pipework or interior finishing may be completed without causing any annoyance to the downstairs neighbor.

- Existing slurry wall around basement : reducing excavation for the foundation earth volume.

- Solar and Wind power system : supplying electricity use for public spaces, reach annual carbon dioxide reduction to 35 tons.

- Energy saving : use of regenerative elevators, high‐efficiency air conditioners, LED lighting and water‐saving flush systems.

- Swimming Pool : integrating reversible heat pump system in B1 

- Rainwater recycling system : along waterfalls on ground floor feeding water to the garden sprinklers.

A building should be a song of the earth and co-exist with the environment. A carbon absorbing Vertical Forest building is no doubt the most profound foresight for the buildings of future cities. Tao Zhu Yin Yuan puts fighting global warming into practical action, shows love for the trees and forests, interprets in depth through space and carves the sustainable faith. We hope to improve the world’s effort in fighting against global warming and establish the carbon absorbing culture of the people; we will set out from Taiwan and declare it to the world.


2018 : German Design Award, « Excellent Design », Berlin

2017 : iF Design Award + Sustainable Cities, « Best Architecture », Taipei

2017 : Human Settlements Awards (SCAHSA), New York

2016 : Building Carbon Footprint « Diamond Certification », from Low Carbon Building Alliance, UK

2016 : Asia Pacific Awards « Five Stars Best Residential High-rise Architecture », in International Property Awards, UK

2015 : Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitant (CTBUH), Innovation Award, « Best Tall Building », Chicago

2014 : Intelligent Building « Diamond Class », Pre-Certification from Taiwan Architecture and Building Center, Taipei

2014 : International Architecture Award, « Best Tall Building », Residential Category Award from Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, New York

2014 : Highly Recommended in the Future Projects in House Category by World Architecture Festival (WAF), Singapore

2013 : Seismic Building Pre-Certification from Taiwan Architecture and Building Center, Taipei

2012 : Taiwan National Golden Award for Architecture « Gold Stone Award in High Rise Building », Planning and Design Category, Taipei

2012 : Taiwan Green Building Gold Class Pre-Certification from Taiwan Architecture and Building Center, Taipei

2012 : Approved by National Taiwan University Center for Earthquake Engineering Research in external structure review, Taipei

2012 : LEED Green Building Gold+ precertification from US Green Building Council, New York

2011 : Approved by the Taipei Urban Design Review Committee, Taipei



In November 2010, my company VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES based in Paris was awarded as the successful tenderer for the construction of a new Sustainable Residential Tower located at Taipei. My firm was in competition in front of Zaha Hadid and Fernando Menis.

My project is currently under construction and completion is expected in June 2018.

The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan sustainable tower will carry 23,000 trees planted on the ground and balconies, which can absorb 130 ton CO2 annually in Taipei. The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan is a prototype of Carbon-Absorbing Green Building . Wednesday, Nov.16, a steel beam was lifted to the top of our Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower (Agora Garden Tower) at a ceremony marking a major step toward completing the construction of the apartment building in Taipei, Taiwan.

For this event, we take the following slogan as our main objective : "A small step of carbon absorbing, a big leap for anti-global warming". Global business sector is expected to be able to jointly promote and implement such action. With more hope that the government of Taiwan will be able to establish "absorb carbon and energy saving education" into the school's basic education.


The project is a perfect fusion of Western and Oriental Technology and Culture.

The tower is respectful of the Taiji Philosophy and is directly inspired by the structure in double helix of the DNA, source of life, dynamism, symbol of harmony revealing the notion of ultimate balance praised by the project. Everything begin with poetry in 2010 during a walk in the street of Taipei by seeing a Samara fruit falling on this piece of land and drawing a spiralling movement from the sky to the earth.

Besides this moving geometry wearing a planted dress with sensual style, the project represents really a built ecosystem that repatriates the fauna and the flora in the heart of the city and generates a new nest of subtropical biodiversity.

My biomimicry leitmotiv is: "To Transform the City into an ecosystem, the districts into forests, and the towers is into urban trees!"


The four main challenges was to create a SUSTAINABLE, GREEN, FLEXIBLE and ANTI-SEISMIC TOWER.

During the studies, the most important challenge was to develop with all the team all the structural, MEP, seismic, interior design and landscape concepts in order to reinforce these four initial concepts.


The tower presents a pioneer concept of sustainable residential eco-construction that aims at limiting the ecological footprint of its inhabitants by researching the right symbiosis between the human being and the Nature. The tower is eco-designed to represent the perfect fusion between Climate, Landscape and Architecture. The sunlight, thermal and wind analysis have enabled us to improve the bioclimatic design of the project. On the first conceptual section submitted for the competition, our intention was to design a vertical landscape from the sky lobby to the basement through all the inhabited levels.

2. GREEN :

The floor area ratio preference of open space has been sacrificed by planting a green wall surrounding the residence. The area covered by plants amounts to 6,060 for a green coverage ratio of 246, which is equivalent to an urban forest park. A total of 23,000 trees and shrubs have been combined with grass areas, forest trails, artistic landscaping, and recreational areas. A natural waterfall is connected to a warm water pool in the basement. A modern healthy Feng Shui was created by employing natural elements to generate a breathing building and ensure the mental and physical health of residents.


The objective of the Client, BES, was to develop 2 big units, of 550 square meters each one, completely free of columns, pipes and walls presenting a maximum of flexibility for the interior layouts of each tenants.

We have thus developed two typical plans:

The typical uneven floor plan with virendeel beams along longitudinal facades

The typical odd floor plan without vierendeel beams.

The cross sections through floors presents the integration of the planting beds in the thickness of double decks to maximize the indoor-outdoor connectivity towards the skyline.

The spiraling mega-columns, located at both ends of the storey, are doubled by oblique shafts wrapping the skew pipes. These skew shafts are transformed into continuous vertical skew green walls all along the height of the tower.

During all the year, the species selected by our landscape architects for the landscape balconies will create various scenery with the seasons change.

With the hyper-flexibility of the typical storey free of columns, walls and shafts, all the interior layouts are possible!

For example, it is possible to locate the living spaces longitudinally along the south facade, transversally along the core or in the axis of the apartment or in double height.

All the layouts are always in connexion with the surrounding suspended gardens.

For the swimming pool and the fitness center located in B1, for the parking levels and for the entrance lobby at ground floor, it is for each facilities the same philosophy to strengthen the indoor/outdoor connectivity with the Nature.

The central core has been designed to separate totally the vertical circulations into two housing units on the same level. This core is fixed (it does not pivot). But in order to ensure the rotation of the storeys floor by floor, it is surrounded by a (naturally lightened & ventilated) horizontal circulation loop welcoming the entry foyer dedicated to each unit. This buffer loop enables thus to set the main entrance always in the axis of each apartment and this despite of the 4.5 degrees rotation storey by storey. The core is wrapped by a double skin, developed with our facade consultant, enables to temperate passively the vertical circulation inner spaces.


Finally, one of the most important challenge was to create an anti-seismic tower. To ensure a completely safe environlent, EPS isolation cushions, of the same grade is used for US roads and bridges, have been employed in accordance with the shock resistant design of the 4th nuclear power plant in taiwan. The design can resist a peak ground acceleration of 400gal and provide maximum protection against 7 grade earthquakes (maximum strength in Taiwan).

The structure remains elastic and does not incur damage.


According to the point of view of the pedestrian from the 4 surrounding streets, the tower changes of face and proposes 4 amazing profiles: The V profile, the X cross profile, the elliptical profile, and the pyramidal profile.

This twist of 90 degrees answers to four major objectives:

1. The first objective is to be perfectly integrated in the North / South pyramidal profile of the Building Volume and to respect all the urban setbacks.

2. The second objective is to generate a maximum of cascades of suspended open-air gardens, not part of the F.A.R. (floor area ratio). Thus, the planted balcony surface area can easily exceed the limit of the required 10 percent.

3. The third objective is to offer to the residents exceptional panoramic views on the skyline of Taipei by multiplying the transversal views, especially towards the very close Taipei 101 tower and the Central Business District.

4. The fourth objective is to generate from a flexible standardized level a progressive geometry with luxuriant green corbels which assures the intimacy and the confidentiality of each apartment by avoiding the indiscreet vision axes.

From the simple and standardized element of the double helix of housing superimposed vertically and put in successive rotation of 4.5 degrees level by level, a multi-facial morphology appears all in convex and concave curves.


Archibiotic is the new transdisciplinary approach invented by myself in 2008.

ARCHIBIOTIC = ARCHItecture + BIOtechnologies + Technologies of Information and Communication

The oldest living beings appeared 3.8 billion years ago. In terms of durability, the human societies are thus far behind the nature that made its proofs.

Based on these billions of years of Research and Development by Nature, an Archibiotect studies new innovation approaches aiming at modifying the carbon balance, guide us to three additional scales operated by the contemporary biotechnologies: the shapes, the strategies and the ecosystems.

1.1. The Biomorphism : is based only on shapes from the Nature.

Ex : The vertical wings of the Steppes Eagle, the spiralling and hydro-dynamical shape of the nautilus, the ventilation of the termite mounds.

1.2. The Bionics : is based on living strategies, natural manufacturing processes.

Ex : The plasticity of the lilypads or dragonfly wings, the hyper-resistant structure of the hives in bee nests.

1.3. The Biomorphism : is based on mature ecosystems and tends to reproduce all the interactions present in a tropical forest such as for example : the use of waste as resources, the diversification and the cooperation, the reduction of the materials at their strict minimum.

Ex : the autogenerative agriculture, the reproduction of the photosynthesis process (main energy source of humanity), the production of bio-hydrogen from green algae.

Whereas the primary reason of architecture is since time immemorial to protect Man against Nature, the contemporary city desires by its emergent methods to reconciliate finally human being and the natural ecosystems! The architecture becomes metabolic and creative! The facades become as intelligent, regenerative and organic epidermis. They are matters in movement, recovered by free plants and adjust always the shape to the functionality. The roofs become the new grounds of the green city. The garden is no more placed side by side to the building; it is the building ! The architecture becomes cultivable, eatable and nutritive. The Architecture is no more set up in the ground but is planted into the earth and exchanges with it the organic matters changed in natural resources.


The ecological architectural is not a trend. Its a necessity!

For this project, I realized energy conservation, carbon reduction, and eco-friendly concepts through exceptional and novel green building design concepts with the goal of perpetuating the Confucian spirit of generational succession, continuation of the past and ushering in of the future, and long life and prosperity.

My objective is to build a prototype of green, dense, smart city connected by the TIC and eco-designed from biotechnologies!

The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan presents pro-active objectives to answer to the following nine major items:

1. Planting Green : Encouraging more production of Oxygen, greater absorption of CO2, cleaning the air, achieving the homeostasis for urban climate warming effects

2. Water Conservation: Improve the capacity of the land to store water, to provide the ground with a rich microbial environment able to support organic life and to reduce the need of drainage.

3. Daily Energy Efficiency: Reduce the amount of energy needed by the air conditioning system and lighting, Encourage re-use applications of waste energy.

4. Carbon Dioxide Reduction: Use the design and construction processes to achieve improvements whereby reductions in CO2 emissions result, and by lightweight minimized architecture, resiliency, and re-usability of materials to accomplish reduces CO2 emissions.

5. Waste Reduction: Refers to the production during the construction process of Cut and fill non-Balancing Design, wasted soil, building materials waste, and easily dissipated dust particles.

6. Water Resource: refers to the ratio of the buildings actual water use to an average water use, or the water consumption conservation ratio.

7. Wastewater and garbage Improvements: establish tools to certify a hygienic environment control and improve impact assessment.

8. Protection of the Biodiversity: Improve the ecological quality with porous environment encouraging ecological ponds, water ponds, permitting multi-scaled biodiversity, protecting native species and flora. This index is organized into 5 thematic categories: Ecological Network, Micro-organism Resting Place, Vegetation Diversity, Soil Ecology, Ecologically Symbiotic Architectural Design.

9. Refinement of the Interior Environment : refers to evaluating the indoor environmental quality for noise protection, ambient lighting, air flow, interior design, air quality, and environmental factors which may impact on occupant health or comfort.

The eco-friendly project is eco-conceived by the integration of bioclimatic passive systems (as natural lighting and ventilation for the core and the basement, rain water and grey water recycle, e-low glass, wind chimney in the double curtain wall for the natural ventilation) but also by the renewable energies (as the big photovoltaic solar roof and canopies, the automation for the energy saving, and lifts utilizing energy-saving regenerative drives, green walls, landscape balconies, HVAC control Communication Systems, and smart home user interface facilities).

The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan sustainable tower will carry 23,000 trees planted on the ground and balconies. All these trees and shrubs can absorb 130 ton CO2 annually in Taipei like an urban forest.

In addition, the intrinsic CO2 has been reduced by using high performance steel (developed in Japan) for the anti-seismic structure and adopting the use of biosourced materials "cradle to cradle" for the architectural interior layouts.

The green certification of this project is:

1. U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Gold

2. Low Carbon Building Alliance, Diamond Level


Taipei is for me the New Asian Silicon Valley . The Taipei 101 tower was the symbol of our 20th century and I hope that the Tao Zhu Yin Yuan will become for the City of Taipei at the beginning of our 21th century the new ecological symbol of the right symbiosis between Humanity and Nature.

The project was approved after the urban review and highly praised by the Taipei Urban Design Review Committee.

The projects gets the Recognition with the Golden Stone Top Award in the Taiwanese Architecture planning and design category presented by China Educational, Scientific and Cultural Development Association (CESCDA).

This remarkable building represents a life journey. Its value not only lies in its outstanding design or technologies but also in its spiritual and artistic achievements and breakthroughs. Tao Zhu Yin Yuan conforms to green building indicators and goes beyond current trends of Asian-Pacific housing, providing a glimpse into the future.


PHONE : 0033.
WEBSITE : www.vincent.callebaut.org
EMAIL : vincent@callebaut.org
Vincent Callebaut Architectures
2, rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris


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