Saturday, 4 May 2013

Trees in the air 2

The opening of WOHA Architects' new Park Royal complex in Singapore appears at first sight to make nonsense of my recent post about trees on buildings (see Wrong green).  Or at least the hero shot makes it seem that way.

I felt a lot less threatened when I saw other images of the same building.  As usual, the camera so easily frames a potentially misleading message.

But I don't want to be churlish.  A lot of credit must be given WOHA for some remarkable aspects of the scheme.  The skygardens with their extended planter beds create micro environments and micro-climates that appear to radically transform the experience of circulation on upper floors, further enhanced by the use of natural materials such as light and dark wood, pebbles and water. There are technological systems with automatic light, rain and motion sensors, rainwater harvesting and recycling.  Enough sustainability bling to ensure the Park Royal on Pickering has been awarded the BCA Green Mark Platinum-the highest rating for green buildings in Singapore, And even the jarringly slick glazed tower bits can be favourably read, if one recognises that the choice of a narrow floor plate has made it possible for the interiors to be flooded with natural light.

This one I definitely want to see in real life.

12 comments:

Lin QIAN said...

The discussion around how to make the sustainable architecture has profound influence on the way of design process. And for some architecture, I think there are some misunderstandings between "green buildings" and planting trees on the buildings.

In my opinion, Sustainable architecture is all about building or developing a way that will keep users comfortable for a long period of time without adverse effects. The building itself could use the resources from the natural environment such as rainwater and solar power instead of wasting extra energy generated from an “artificial” process.

But in most cases, the methods to achieve sustainable building is providing terraces for planting trees or make a roof garden, which makes no sense to me as trees will add extra burden to the building instead of helping to generate or recycle resources. As your previous post "Wrong green" mentioned, trees barely survive on the top of buildings, especially skyscrapers. Trees require large amounts of water for its growth, this may be hard to achieve as there is no underground water keeping it moist all year round in a building. I think this would become a big problem. It will just be a "tree house" instead of being a "green house".

What's more, plant species like ivy and roots will also cause damage to buildings.

http://www.fassadengruen.de/eng/uw/climbing_plants/uw/greening/greening/building-damages.htm

It doesn't mean that i disagree with the idea of Park Royal Tower, it still bring us many good principles like creating micro -environments and using recycling systems with natural material . However, could we stick to such ideas without planting trees on the building? Creating a "Green living" environment in the building instead of directly planting trees on the building to make it looks like a sustainable structure?

Solar-Powered Mirebalais Hospital is one of the good examples of "Green buildings", it achieves its green aspects by using solar energy efficiently instead of planting trees on its roof.

http://inhabitat.com/pihs-solar-powered-mirebalais-hospital-opens-in-haiti-merging-innovative-design-and-healthcare/

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1678900/a-milan-skyscraper-with-a-forest-inside-it

Steven Surya Angga said...

From what I understand and particularly like about skyscrapers with green roof gardens and trees is that the architects and developers are keen to provide a substantial amount of outdoor living space to the apartments, which I think is a good thing especially in countries like Singapore, where land is expensive and not everyone could afford to buy a house with a private outdoor space.

The roof garden gives an impression of being closer to the ground, providing each apartment unit with a glimpse of human activity from the green communal space.

However, by looking at a number of recent skyscraper projects in Singapore, for instance the Fusionopolis, I find it hard to accept that many present architects are misinterpreting the idea of sustainable architecture. They tend to increase the sustainable value of the building just by planting more trees on the rooftops. In my opinion, the scope of sustainability is a lot broader and there are more short and long terms issues that need to be addressed, rather than just making the buildings to plainly look sustainable from the outside. For example, providing each unit with a sufficient amount of natural lighting to save energy, installing a water recycling system, use a recyclable building materials and offers a descent heating and cooling system to minimise the use of air conditioner or heater.

Regarding the tree condition issue, from your blog post “Wrong Green”, it is stated that the trees might die due to exposure against extreme temperature. From one source (Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers?) the author mentions that the most formidable force that the trees face in skyscrapers is the prevailing winds. It weakens the root of the trees, which makes it possible for them to fall. The rendering images of the New Park Royal complex scare me to imagine the severe damages it could cause if one of the trees falls.

Therefore, in my opinion it is inappropriate to claim a building as sustainable, if what they are doing is basically destroying the trees for the sake of sustainable exterior view.

Source:
http://www.archdaily.com/346374/can-we-please-stop-drawing-trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers/
http://inhabitat.com/fusionopolis-singapore’s-new-green-skyscraper/

ZhangYu Vera said...

Nowadays Trees seem to be a selling point in many design renderings attempting to achieve aesthetic and/or sustainable purpose. It seems like most designers are heading the same direction without considering the technical requirement and understanding the real meaning of sustainability. All this turned greenness into a fad which it should not be.

However, for me, the idea of bringing nature into the building and its visual effects are fascinating. Instead of consider it as " a very important symbol, a step in a movement or evolution for architects to become more sustainable designers" which Bridget comment in the previous article "Wrong Green" , I prefer to consider it as a " positive development " in which the built environment provides greater life quality, health and amenity. Let's put aside the survival issue of the trees. If this idea become realistic, our eyes will be filled with green instead of construction materials. We will seeing a tree out the window, as opposed to another building surface. And we will have a space which away from the workloads, pressures and hectic lifestyles. In my opinion, what this "Green" can do is far beyond an enhancive rendering. It will create a pleasant atmosphere, a relaxing place and a more pleasant view for all of us. Moreover, it will lead an evolution to our way of living. The surrounding environmental conditions have been scraped away by the land that over time developed. The footprint of buildings needs to be intelligently given back to the ecology at some point along with the design. I believe "Green" Architecture will be one of the way.

http://www.archdaily.com/225153/sheikh-khalifa-medical-city-in-abu-dhabi-som/

http://relationalthought.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/1247/

http://www.landsecuritieslondon.co.uk/websitefiles/20_fs_brochure.pdf

http://www.hilsonmoran.com/Case-studies/20-Fenchurch-Street---Office-building-cooling-strategies/

Yang Zhou said...

After reading the post "Wrong green" and "Trees in the air 2"and some comments, I think it is not questions of simply right or wrong. It is more important to ask why are these architect trying to plant trees on these buildings. Is it just because of the so-called sustainability or a better appearance? Can they put the trees somewhere else?
In my opinion, demand creates supply. If there are trees, there are needs for trees. with the increasing population of urban area, buildings are becoming higher and less space is left for greenery. So putting trees on the roof top garden could be a solution for a high density urban area. On the other hand, the building with trees can provides better experience for the occupants. For the building, the vegetation can improve the passive cooling and insulation.
I agree the in some cases, the integration of trees and high rise buildings is not very successful due to the survive issue of the trees. However, I think this is just a start. There will be failures but learning from failure is just how architecture is developed from ancient period.
although its viability is uncertain. But I like the idea of trees on buildings because I believe that it has potential and there is a way to find the balance between the plants and the buildings. It's worth more exploring.


http://inhabitat.com/fusionopolis-singapore%E2%80%99s-new-green-skyscraper/

http://inhabitat.com/park-royal-tower-wohas-stunning-vertical-urban-park-opens-in-singapore/#ixzz2SJnSVEKO

http://designbuildsource.com.au/why-trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers-are-a-fantasy

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/04/18/177765076/trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers-yes-yes-say-i-no-no-says-tim

Ruoshu Lian said...

By looking at these photos, it could be easily related to the topic of "misdirection" in your blog, but in fact the building was not only about planting trees on top of skyscrapers which mentioned in the blog "wrong green" which also give consideration of the natural materials as well as recycling energy.

However, a lot number of recent designs focused on the idea of "roof garden" with limitation of understanding, which in my opinion, sustainable green buildings are not about green trees, but the environment and everything that might affect the surroundings, for instance, the recycling system of rain water or the latent damage to the earth and the time that the buildings could stand like the collapse of buildings in China or the "Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh".

What I believe is that everything has its room of improving and I agreed that we might start from inferior imitations that focused only on the appearance which was not "real" sustainable buildings, but these are the necessary process that provide evidence of showing people's careness, even as a selling point,during the process of discovering and solving problems, we get a chance to make it consummate and the "green" buildings will be no longer "tree killers".

http://www.archdaily.com/363164/parkroyal-on-pickering-woha-2/

http://inhabitat.com/park-royal-tower-wohas-stunning-vertical-urban-park-opens-in-singapore/parkroyal-singapore-woha-architects-11/?extend=1

http://chinagreenbuildings.blogspot.com.au/

Yang Zhou said...

After reading the post "Wrong green" and "Trees in the air 2"and some comments, I think it is not questions of simply right or wrong. It is more important to ask why are these architect trying to plant trees on these buildings. Is it just because of the so-called sustainability or a better appearance? Can they put the trees somewhere else?
In my opinion, demand creates supply. If there are trees, there are needs for trees. with the increasing population of urban area, buildings are becoming higher and less space is left for greenery. So putting trees on the roof top garden could be a solution for a high density urban area. On the other hand, the building with trees can provides better experience for the occupants. For the building, the vegetation can improve the passive cooling and insulation.
I agree the in some cases, the integration of trees and high rise buildings is not very successful due to the survive issue of the trees. However, I think this is just a start. There will be failures but learning from failure is just how architecture is developed from ancient period.
Although its viability is uncertain currently. But I like the idea of trees on buildings because I believe that it has potential and there is a way to achieve the balance between the plants and the buildings. It's worth more exploring.

[Reference]
http://designbuildsource.com.au/why-trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers-are-a-fantasy
http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/04/18/177765076/trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers-yes-yes-say-i-no-no-says-tim

Anonymous said...

These images are really eye-catching; they look like building from a post-human. What I learnt about the trees on skyscrapers is essentially a measure for urban sustainability. After reading the “wrong green”, I don’t think it can get an exact answer whether trees on skyscraper is right or wrong.

In recent years, with a great increase of population in urban city, more skyscrapers appears, more and more vegetation area exploited by human, there is demand of green for citizens. So, roof garden becomes one of the solutions. Trees on the roof garden have obvious environmental value aside; they also have a refreshing effect on human attention-they create the appearance of a building returning to the jungle, rather than the urban grind.

However, after doing some research, I found that vertical green on skyscraper actually cost much. “… if you took the estimated $4.25 million that it cost to include trees on the vertical forest, you could restore at least 2,125 acres of horizontal forest.” In my opinion, if “trees in the air” is a method for citizens to feel in nature, it can be a good way, but if it is only design for urban sustainability, it should be doubt whether it is necessary. Maybe instead of planting trees on buildings, focusing on preserving and restoring places that already have, or desperately need, trees.

So it is a little complicated for trees on skyscrapers. But it doesn’t mean the trees on skyscrapers should be stopped, because urban city absolutely need more green life. If some of the budget goes toward local reforestation or the creation of public urban parks, maybe more effect on urban sustainability can achieve.

References link:
http://dornob.com/green-in-3d-16-vertical-farm-skyscraper-park-designs/#axzz2TEoVKgdK
http://homes.yahoo.com/news/skyscraper-trees--good-or-gimmicky--193925860.html
http://inhabitat.com/fusionopolis-singapore%E2%80%99s-new-green-skyscraper/

Matai said...


It is fair to say that Green Building has become a trend for some architects in relation to sustainable architecture.
There are many ways to make the building green, or in some cases, make it look "green".

For me, green buildings are exciting and innovative as it is a solution to sustainable architecture. And trees on/on top of the building as a sustainable design strategy are in favour of many architects because it gives comfort to people as if they are surrounded by nature.
So such experience are in demand by clients to get themselves a feeling of natural environment in the building both visually and phisically.

It is undeniable that green building designs are very eye-catching and at the same time, different.
I remember when i first saw "the Hyde" Building in Sydney, the instant feeling is different. And i suddenly had the question, how would the greens survive?
It is the same story with the new Park Royal complex by WOHA Architects. This seems to be the tricky part of adding greeneries as an architectural crutch,
which is considered a way to make the building feel sustainable.Because in reality, these greeneries are hard to survive and it makes the building anything but sustainable.
Like what we have seen in the new Park Royal complex the trees and greeneries are planted on the skygarden and extended planter beds.
I believe the structure support to grow those trees is no easy job to do and also, trees are dirty and heavy and it requires watering system to supply for its life.
And it is not over because you better pray there is no wind, because it can destroy the trees in no time.


So i don't think the value of trees on the building makes it any greener or even worthwhile. But we can think about the alternatives, instead of making the building look "green".
We can think about sustainable design strategies such as solar energy generation, natural sunlight gain and control. And we can also use materials such as wood, pebbles and so on to create a more natural environment.

http://designbuildsource.com.au/why-trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers-are-a-fantasy

http://persquaremile.com/2013/04/23/there-are-better-ways-to-plant-more-trees/

Anonymous said...

LI said:
After reading these posts and looking all these photos, it does remind me that sustainable design principles take a serious role in the design process, and greenery does create a great experience for the residents and the people who maybe are just walking by. Moreover, it also keeps privacy.
As Steve mentioned, the hotel is centrally located at the key gateway to the Raffles Place Central Business District. It redefines Singapore’s skyline with a unique hotel-in-a-garden concept which integrates environmental principles and elements throughout the development, featuring 15,000 square metres of lofty sky gardens, reflecting pools, waterfalls, planter terraces as well as green walls, which is same with the design of a 900-foot-tall skyscraper for New York City designed by Daniel Libeskind.
It stands out from the crowd of even taller skyscrapers by including a series of sky gardens at different levels of the building. The design also showcases a glass-tube-enclosed vertical garden going the full length of the tower through its center.
Apart from giving fresh air to the people living or working in the tower, the open spaces designed for the sky gardens and the vertical farm will also ensure maximum utilization of the natural lighting, which would reduce the energy requirements of the building. Other green innovations include the harvesting of rainwater and natural light, energy-efficient air conditioning and automatic sensors to regulate energy and water usage and carbon monoxide levels.
But is there any negative effects? And if it is, how can we solve it?
The hotel’s green features enable it to effectively reduce surrounding temperatures and greenhouse gases as well as enhance air quality. However, there is a concern, the open spaces would ensure maximum energy savings when it comes to energy required for lighting this building, but it will also reduce the temperature inside the building, especially after sunset. To maintain comfortable living conditions inside the building, heating systems would have to be used, which would require much more energy than what would actually be saved by letting in the daylight.
http://www.designboom.com/architecture/daniel-libeskinds-green-new-york-tower/

Stephanie Wolff said...

There are many arguments for and against the emergence of ‘green architecture.’ Star architects’ satirical article ‘O’Mighty Green,’ demonstrates their scepticism towards this concept, “Green is the only symbol able to keep pace with today’s lack of patience and hunger for images; a Lady Gaga-Sustainability.” They suggest that the notion of ‘the green’ is a trend that is ultimately focused on the aesthetics and doesn’t in any way benefit the original aims of sustainable building. “The green-looking is usually indirectly proportional to its sustainability achievements.”

On the other hand, dense cities that are deficient of anything natural benefit from some greenery in their skyscrapers. National Design Award Winner Margie Ruddick explains, “There is something about the air quality…it automatically makes them feel more relaxed and able to breathe deeply and calmly.” She validates that there is a psychological impact from green spaces, “It improves mood, focus and even in intelligence.”

Whist there are many advantages of green spaces and green buildings, it is a shame that this has become the main focus of sustainable architecture. There are so many other forms of building ecologically, but to the world’s desire for imagery, as Star Architects suggests, they aren’t as popular. A great example of sustainable architecture is BedZED, an affordable housing complex in London. It was built from recycled and local materials, its south orientated windows utilise natural light and ventilation and its covered in solar panels. “BedZED is an example of a growing number of buildings that are designed to be "net zero," meaning they produce as much energy as they use.” This building conveys the values that should be the focus of architecture for the future.

Links:

http://st-ar.nl/o-mighty-green-summary/

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/aroundthemall/2013/05/landscape-architect-margie-ruddick-brings-a-new-meaning-to-green-design/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/04/pictures/130419-extreme-green-building/#/earth-day-green-buildings_66534_600x450.jpg

Anonymous said...

Liu Qian Said:
Nowadays, it seems that if you want to make a skyscraper look trendy and sustainable, put trees on it, on the rooftop, on terraces, in nooks and crannies. In my design studio experience, I was considering putting trees on my design building quite often. But is it a really good idea to put trees on skyscrapers?
There are couple of reasons why skyscraper probably won’t have trees. For resident, it is hot, cold, and windy. For trees, the climate variable is more extreme at the heights which many architects propose. Wind is the most formidable force trees, which is probably risk at a high level. Then there are the logistical concerns, like you mentioned in the “Wrong green”, what if the trees die due to exposure against extreme temperature. Must have someone to take care of them, but who is going to water them and fertilize them? How will the trees be replaced? Would everyone who living in the building would enjoy to pay attention to it?
I do not mean that I disagree the ideal about “trees on a skyscraper”, I love this idea, I think a building covered with vegetation always catches my eye, just like the building with vegetation on the Central Park, it is one of the buildings that impress on me. Of cause, this ideal is not the only method to approve a sustainable building, but I believe it is a great step in a movement or evolution for architects to become more sustainable designers, we just might need spend more time to make it works better. I would love to see a beautiful city with green skyscrapers.

References link:
http://www.archdaily.com/346374/can-we-please-stop-drawing-trees-on-top-of-skyscrapers/
http://inhabitat.com/bosco-verticale-the-worlds-first-vertical-forest-nears-completion-in-milan-new-photos/
http://www.hilsonmoran.com/Case-studies/20-Fenchurch-Street---Office-building-cooling-strategies/
http://dornob.com/green-in-3d-16-vertical-farm-skyscraper-park-designs/#axzz2TEoVKgdK

Anonymous said...

The idea of trees becoming a focal design feature is intriguing, but not practical, reading wrong green and the blog further clarified this.
By definition, trees also carry with it a range of specifications; tree height can reach up to a maximum height of 130 meters. They have roots which depending on the kind may need several meters of soil to sustain its growth, trees create habitat for birds and insects and trees weigh quite a bit. To not completely rule out the idea, I further informed myself on tree weight, I found the link below.
http://www.ehow.com/how_5656470_figure-tree-weight.html
This link explains how to calculate tree weight. As an example, the average mature tree size can be calculated using DBH=circumference/pi, with further calculations of volumes, including leaf weight and branch weight. Further research informed that the estimated weight of a tree having 56cm in circumference can weigh up to 120kilos. The several dozen quickly increases weight, and at winds reaching over 80k/hr at skyscraper roof level, over a substantial period of time, would be enough weaken the tree at root, potentially becoming a hazardous item.
Trees on roofs are just not practical. Unless drastic precautions are put in place, I haven’t done the research, but the only logical thoughts that come to mind is weight baring structure, tree weight restrictions, limited height placement, maintence of tree growth and protection against the elements. Although, I don’t believe this is enough. Trees should thrive in their natural habitat. The replacement of trees as a sustainable component should be replaced by other means.
The incorporation of well designed green roof and wall systems however as quoted by Green Roofs Australasia, ‘provides oxygen, reduces the urban temperature and mitigates storm water runoffs. Green roof & wall systems are one solution to the impacts of climate change’
While the idea of Trees on skyscrapers may look aesthetically pleasing, but misleading, other means to address sustainability in a more thorough and clever way are available.
Sources:
https://greenroofsaustralasia.com.au/ http://www.ipst.gatech.edu/faculty/ragauskas_art/technical_reviews/Tree%20Size.pdf http://www.ipst.gatech.edu/faculty/ragauskas_art/technical_reviews/Tree%20Size.pdf How to Figure Tree Weight | eHow http://www.ehow.com/how_5656470_figure-tree-weight.html#ixzz2Tdi6Mg2d