THE FIRST BUILDINGS OF BIOTOPIA
What is Bio Architecture? It is a building or architectural installation which uses biotechnologies, sustainable practices, and new materials. It can range from 100% algae energy powered buildings to floating skyscrapers. The below examples are ten of our favourite ultra-futuristic concepts, sleek timeless designs, and biotech already in action. We also raise some points about Bio 'sustainable' architecture as it can be highly controversial and just end up 'design fiction'.
ALGAE POWERED BY ARUP
Algae is an incredible technology provided by nature. Not only is it nutritious, it can clean up pollution in the air, and power buildings. Arup's installation at BIQ makes it the first Algae powered building, with a "bio-adaptive facade" that "uses live microalgae growing in glass louvres to generate renewable energy and provide shade at the same time." It is not the most luscious or futuristic of designs but it is utilising a revolutionary biotech concept in reality.
Read more about it here.
VERTICAL GARDENING BY PATRICK BLANC
A "Vertical Garden" is where plants are grown sideways, up a building. Vertical Gardening (and Farming) is a great idea, but it just is not the most practical. Gardens cannot live thousands of feed in the air, and the techniques needed to maintain them are quite complex. Even so, Patrick Blanc has been able to make lasting gardens on several few-story buildings across the globe.
STACKING GREEN BY VO TRONG NGHIA
"Stacking Green" is a Vertical Gardening concept by Vo Trong Nghia. Instead of growing plants on the side of a building like Blanc, Nghia stacked plants on each level of a building to allow ventilation and natural lighting. As energy stops many times a day in Vietnam, the design allows light "to filter into the house through the inner wall of glazing, but the twelve layers of plants in front prevent direct sunlight from passing through and increasing the internal temperature. Natural ventilation also comes through this planted facade."
GARDENS BY THE BAY BY WILKINSON EYRE
Amongst skyscrapers in Singapore, architects Wilkinson Eyre and landscape architects Grant Associates created a dramatic, enormous tropical garden. The metal 'super trees' not only allow vertical gardening in the urban-dense environment, with plants growing upwards, each tree collects rainwater for cooling themselves and the greenhouses.
Read more here.
WILKINSON RESIDENCE BY ROBERT OSHATZ
Organic Architect Robert Oshatz’s Wilkinson house is located in the middle of a forest and made of all natural materials, yet is a nod to biotech futurism. Its design was inspired by tree houses, and Oshatz made sure to compliment the surrounding nature with organic, fluid, almost biomorphic shapes.
View more images here.
VERTICAL FARMING SKY SCRAPER BY VINCENT CALLEBAUT
Vertical Farming is just that: farming on each upward level of a greenhouse skyscraper. It is hardly sustainable as architects and scientists must figure out how to grow plants thousands of feet in the sky before constructing the idea. Even so, as we all are slowly approaching mass, rapid urbanisation, attempting to make the concept work is crucial. The population is duplicating in the billions, causing towns to turn into cities and cities to turn into megatropolises. Architect Vincent Callebaut claims that the challenge with Vertical Farming "is to create a fertile urbanisation with zero carbon emissions and with positive energy. This means producing more energy that it [the building] consumes, in order to conciliate the economical development with the protection of the planet." He is determined to make gardening upwards function within his vertical farm for China. The design itself is incredibly surreal, as if he stacked a bunch of pebbles on top of each other, but the concept is something population dense countries may have to consider for the future.
Read more about the building concept here.
LILYPAD BY VINCENT CALLEBAUT
As the planet continues to warm, one day oceans may swell and effect people who live along countries' coasts. Callebaut has conceived a floating city representing a lilypad, which would provide shelter for these "future climate change refugees". The concept addresses several biotechnologies, allowing it to be self-powered and absorb CO2. It is a 'design fiction' more so than his vertical farming concept, but we need futuristic thinkers like him, to prepare us for our sustainable futures.
Check out more images here.
CITY IN THE SKY BY HRAMA
City in the Sky is a concept for the overly developed, polluted megatropolises of the future. It was designed to allow citizens of the city to have local, tranquil oases, where one can escape from the chaos. "The design was inspired by the Lotus flower, known for its ability to grow above the murky waters, pure and clean." Even though it is realistically represented in the film (below) and in images, it is not properly engineered for the real living environment.
Read more about the concept here.
LONDON TOWER FARM BY XOME ARCHITECTS
Another vertical farm concept based off of the idea that most of the world by 2050 will be urbanised, is the 'London Tower Farm'. It stresses the use of carbon with a facade inspired by the strategy of carbon, life's building block 'atomic 6'. The hexagons are windows, with the renewable energy systems located on the roof, as well as rainwater for reuse. Food is grown in the centre of the tower, which allows the residents to have immediate access to their urban farm.
View more images here.
ECO PODS BY HOWELER + YOON ARCHITECTS
Howeler + Yoon look to algae for their biotopia concept. The algae would be grown in modular pods for biofuel, continuously rearranging themselves upon an unfinished skyscraper to achieve optimum growing conditions. The building concept is to inform the local public of Boston (and the internet) about the potential of micro-algae. Micro-algae is perfect for vertical growth, and could also power the urban environment efficiently.
Read more here.
OTHER LINKS TO CHECK OUT
Hydrogenase Airships powered by biofuels, designed by Vincent Callebaut.
Ecologic Studio for Algae concept buildings and museum installations.
Millbrook House by Thomas Phifer.
A biotech future interpretation of London by Nil Norman for the London Underground.
Biomorphic 'Shell House' by Artechnic, in Japan.
And, our 'Bioculture' Pinterest Board for more architecture and bio-inspiration.