One of the most fascinating challenges of our time is to transform our cities into people-oriented, climate-resilient places that are as carbon-neutral as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing our cities to address the question of how they need to change in order to become more crisis-proof, sustainable and simultaneously, more pleasant places to live in.
Architecture and urban planning play a fundamental role in this objective of actively fostering people’s desire for positive change on the basis of appropriate ideas and measures.
Wiesbaden-based design studio 3deluxe was commissioned by New York-based organisation #WeThePlanet to come up with a concept for a building with many specific ideas for investigating how to reshape our cities.
As part of this year’s Earth Day summit 2021, the founders of #WeThePlanet, Kunal Sood and Laura Muranaka, presented the plans for The Ark, their corporate building in Manhattan.
Green urban densification: It’s the rooftops, stupid!
To date, buildings’ rooftops have received little attention, even though, on closer inspection, they can play an essential part in improving our carbon balance and our overall urban climates.
Extensively greening our rooftops, areas that have until now been largely neglected, would make an enormous contribution to regulating the climate in our overheated cities, would slash energy inputs, and considerably enhance air quality.
Moreover, new, nature-oriented inner-city biotopes would be created, of a kind that not only promotes biodiversity but also offers city dwellers new scope for experiences for all the senses – and a better quality of life.
The Ark occupies this urban wasteland: Situated on the flat roof of an existing New York building, the #WTP building intelligently concentrates the urban environment and avoids additional soil sealing.
The building’s design is driven by nature and technology
According to 3deluxe, the idea behind the building follows their 50/50 principle which states that 50 per cent of every building project should be reserved for nature.
In this case, it takes the form of a luxuriant natural biotope on the roof that occupies the same surface area as the interior used by people.
The building’s simple shape corresponds to that of a steep slope. This purely scenic approach to architecture creates an opportunity to situate utilisable inside rooms underneath a hill.
Its sides are generously glazed, not only to maintain a pleasant indoor ambience but also to integrate as large a sensor-driven area as possible for intelligent technologies for energy recovery and consumption reduction.
Transparent photovoltaics, eyrise® smart glass, algae bioreactors and solar foil made from recycled kitchen waste and much more besides.
This building project is intended to showcase the kind of innovative technologies that will, in future, be able to play an important role in the carbon-neutral city.
A socially interactive house
The green rooftop biotope will become a semi-public space, one that includes its surroundings – people from the neighbourhood will also be able to use the roof garden for urban gardening and beekeeping, schools, and kindergartens to communicate both knowledge and the wonders of nature, cultural events, readings, and lectures will be able to take place in a climate-friendly and pandemic-resistant environment in the open air. In return, local people will take care of and maintain the biotope.
The biotope will extend the overall living space, not only for people but also for birds, insects, and various kinds of plants, thus promoting biodiversity.
At the same time, the biotope will store rainwater and humidify the surroundings on hot days, it will absorb particulates, transform carbon dioxide into oxygen and improves air quality.
The roof garden will insulate the building’s interior against the cold and heat, as well as cutting its energy consumption. The building will be like a living organism and positively influence its surroundings in many ways.
The use: educational programs and a members’ club
The interior will create ideal opportunities for the #WeThePlanet organisation: It will be possible to hold conferences, summits, workshops and exhibitions on such topics as environmental protection, conservation, social justice, equal opportunities, inclusion, etc. in the rooms, with their multiplicity of possible uses.
#WTP’s large network, consisting of well-known representatives of the media, academics, entrepreneurs, artists, politicians, astronauts, doctors, writers, activists and influencers will discover a new place to meet in the #WTP Members Club – a modern urban information hub in downtown Manhattan, one that will become a smart think tank offering innovative suggestions for improving global living conditions.