Recycled Skylines: 8 Green Urban Tower Typologies for 2050

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[ By WebUrbanist in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

panoramic green city view

Exploring eco-friendly strategies for cities, this series of conceptual ‘Smart Tower’ skyscrapers and mid-rise structure incorporates design elements to reduce pollution and create renewable energy all while integrating with existing built environments.

green path smart towers

Designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, each of these typologies is set in Paris – many draw on local elements both all are conceived more broadly as having potential applications in urban contexts around the world.

green addition rooftop architecture

The proposals, named and detailed below, vary in their realism but are intended to provoke discussion, helping planners consider new ways to adapt existing buildings and infrastructure for cleaner and greener use in the near future.

green mountain tower additions

Mountain Towers: supported by the unused chimneys of existing buildings below, these power-generating additions draw solar energy and use a reversible hydroelectrical pumped storage system to pull up and send down hot water.

green antismog bike path

Antismog Towers: set along disused rail lines, this piece of the project combines cycling paths and urban gardens with cyclonic towers to clean the air and wind turbines to generate electricity.

green photosynthesis towers

Photosynthesis Towers: incorporating green algae bioreactors into existing tall buildings deemed visually unfit by city officials, this conversion project turns adjacent open space into a phyto-purification lagoon for graywater runoff.

green future bridge architecture

green bridge from above

Bridge Towers: connecting across urban waterways, these river-spanning structures provide a combination of water power, bridge infrastructure and living space.

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Power Grows on Trees: Wind Energy via Leafy Green Turbines

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urban wind farm designs

Addressing noise and visual pollution associated with wind energy generation in urban contexts, these trunk-style towers support suspended leaf-shaped turbine housings, hung from organic-looking branches.

energy generating tree design

Inspired by the movement of leaves in the wind, New Wind founder Jérôme Michaud-Larivière developed this project with technology and aesthetics equally in mind, conceiving of these as part public art and part civic infrastructure.

urban wind tree generator

Even the tiniest gusts of wind (starting at a few miles per hour) will turn the small blades secreted away within each individual leaf making them well-suited to all sorts of city environments. Each blade can rotate and generate power in both directions.

urban wind turbine tree

A prototype has already been deployed in Paris and the idea is to eventually roll out small pockets (or perhaps: forests) in various public spaces, from gardens and parks to squares and shopping centers.

urban wind tower prototype

Currently, the plan is to power street lamps or energize electric car charging stations. Eventually the hope is to add photovalics to the trunks and branches, adding energy-harvesting capacity in another form to the same structures.


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Casa Cargo: Containers Frame Photographer’s Sustainable Home

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

green home exterior containers

Shaping both living spaces and modular work studios, a set of shipping containers were combined with a series of green building strategies to make this a place the ultimate home for a versatile creative with professional spatial needs.

green house living room

Eight used cargo containers provided a starting point for the design by architect Maria José Trejos in Costa Rica (photos by Sergio Pucci, enclosing rooms around the periphery of the plan and leaving a central day-lit void for photography, gatherings and natural cross-ventilation.

green house side slide

The staggered containers create porches, patios and decks on the upper levels while framing social spaces, including a kitchen and dining room, on the main floor.

green upper deck designs

green wood bamboo halls

As the architect describes it, “The house dresses and undresses according to what you want to use it for, be it a living room, an audiovisual space, a photographic or advertising studio.”

green house passive strategies

green enclosed tree interior

green recycling building systems

A reflective roof and rain harvesting techniques help keep the building cool and create graywater reserves, while the central open volume has raised windows for cross-ventilation purposes. Natural light and cooling help reduce energy consumption and associated costs.


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Form Follows Footprint: Forest Retreat Just Fits Local Codes

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forest pavillion for sweden

A creative response to a new legal loophole, this structure is designed specifically to test the limits of a Swedish planning law allowing buildings under a certain size to be constructed without prior structure-specific approval.

forest pavillion at night

forest retreat structure model

Jägnefält Milton of Stockholm worked with Arup engineers to work within the confines proposed by the legislation, which include dimensional limits of 25 square meters and 4 meters in height.

forest pavillion side view

forest pavillion covered view

The intent, though, is not to push the limits but to respect their intent and create a low-footprint, eco-friendly pavilion that respects its environment.

forest building materials natural

The design calls for using the timber cleared from the site to construct the structure and use a tension system of structural anchors to maximize views, minimize outside materials and take advantage of a large stone on the site.

forest pavillion simple interior

forest leaf site plan

Supported off the ground, the lower platform is mirrored by a roof of the same organic leaf-like shape and a fabric cover can be deployed around the entire building to provide some privacy as well.


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Fungi Farm Prototype Turns Waste Plastic into Edible Treats

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fungi muratium toxic waste

Breaking down one of the most difficult types of trash, this incredible working incubator turns sterilized plastic remnants into nutritional biomass humans can consume and digest, in short: food. Texture, taste and flavor depend upon the strain of fungus, but reportedly can be quite strong as well as quite sweet.

fungus growth system

fungi plastic utensil set

fungi eating good

Livin Studio, an Austrian design group known for innovative work on insect farms, has built a working model of this growth sphere (dubbed the Fungi Mutarium) that takes parts of mushrooms usually left uneaten and grows them into fresh snacks.

fungi eating growth sphere

From the creators: “We were working with fungi named Schizophyllum Commune and Pleurotus Ostreatus. They are found throughout the world and can be seen on a wide range of timbers and many other plant-based substrates virtually anywhere in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia. Next to the property of digesting toxic waste materials, they are also commonly eaten. As the fungi break down the plastic ingredients and don’t store them, like they do with metals, they are edible.”

fungi incubation chamber diagram

In terms of the process, “Fungi Mutarium is a prototype that grows edible fungal biomass, mainly the mycelium, as a novel food product. Fungi is cultivated on specifically designed agar shapes that the designers called FU.  Agar is a seaweed based gelatin substitute and acts, mixed with starch and sugar, as a nutrient base for the fungi. The FUs are filled with plastics. The fungi is then inserted, it digests the plastic and overgrows the whole substrate. The shape of the FU is designed so that it holds the plastic and to offer the fungi a lot of surface to grow on. “

fungus diagram design

For now, the digestion is a relatively slow process, taking up to a few months for a set of cultures to fully mature, but by the standards of plastic biodegrading in nature this is still an extraordinary feat. The team continues to work with university researchers to make the process faster and more efficient. “Scientific research has shown that fungi can degrade toxic and persistent waste materials such as plastics, converting them into edible fungal biomass.”

fungi edible grown creaiton

fungi plastic eating design

This novel application comes just a few years after a group of Yale students discovered a species of fungi on a trip to Ecuador as part of a Rainforest Expedition and Labratory led by a molecular biochemist. Even in the absence of light and air, the species they examined thrived in landfill environments, suggesting potential near-future and larger-scale solution for existing waste sites as well.


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Vertical City Farming: Undulating Mixed-Use Urban Community

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urban farming city concept

Designed to provide a spaces for public gardening as well as senior living, this hybrid complex has a rich array of green roofs, terraces and facades allowing for locally-grown produce as well as civic interaction.

urban farm terrace plan

urban farm gardening community

Responding to the fact that by 2030 a full 20% of Singapore’s population will be retirement-aged, SPARK Architects sought to address high-density housing, sustainable architecture and urban agriculture in this complex.

urban farm design concept

urban farm walkway singapore

The layered concept involves ground-level farms and gardens open to the citizenry as well as individual, upper-level plots that retired persons can work at their leisure.

urban farming design section

urban farming aquaponics module

urban farming design diagram

Further, “the environmental sustainability and efficiency of ‘Home Farm’ [is] enhanced by proposed features such as the collection of rainwater, for use in aquaponic systems, and the use of plant waste for energy production.”

urban farm ground floor

urban farm undulating form

The curvilinear master plan provides maximum sun exposure and variegated views throughout the complex, encouraging residents to walk around to exercise, interact with neighbors and experience a diverse set of internal and city views.


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Seabed City: Chinese Company Designs Underwater Ocean Spiral

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[ By WebUrbanist in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

ocean city side view

Slated to cost over $25 billion and take 5 years to complete, this incredible proposal starts a with a living sphere that spans over 1,500 feet below the surface of the ocean.

ocean city surface view

ocean city spherical center

Designed by the Shimizu Corp’s, the spherical portion of the so-called Ocean Spiral forms a residential and commercial core from which a winding path spirals 9 further miles into the deep, ultimately terminating at the ocean floor.

ocean city sketchi dea

ocean spiral earth factory

Occupants would live and work both in triangular neighborhoods along the periphery as well as within a tapering, hourglass-shaped, skyscraper-like segment stretching up from the bottom to the top of the sphere’s center.

ocean city section diagram

ocean city core rendering

The ‘Earth Factory’ portion of the project below is set to use generate eco-friendly energy from temperature differentials and organically-driven chemical conversion processes.

ocean spiral underwater city

ocean spiral concept drawings copy

ocean thumbnail

For anyone wondering just when they can expect this marvel to materialize: its would-be creators concede the technology is just not in place yet to make it a reality, but hope and presume it will be soon.


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Starry Night: Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Path Inspired by Van Gogh

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[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

night cycling visibility green

Opening last night in Nuenen, Holland, this illuminated cycling surface is free to the public, storing sunlight during the day to create stellar patterns to guide riders after dark. Its swirling shapes are recognizably inspired by one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

night path now open

night cycling path glowing

Developed by Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde in conjunction with infrastructure specialists from Heijmans, this pathway is a conceptual extension of a series of glow-in-the-dark highway projects and other urban improvement proposals.

night path standing view

night cycling rider shot

Part practical lighting scheme and part installation art project, the path is located along a stretch of a bicycling route passing through Noord Brabant, the region from which van Gogh originated, which in turn connects various notable sites from his personal life and work. Its creator explains: “I wanted to create a place that people will experience in a special way, the technical combined with experience – that’s what techno-poetry means to me.”

night cycling image large

night path holland biking

night biking path lights

The semi-abstract pixelated swirls are a high-tech reference to Starry Night, painted in 1889 and depicting an idealized view from the east-facing window of the painter’s asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City).

night cycling aerial view

starry night inspired path

night cycling path image

night path cyclist picture

Studio Roosegaarde is known for “tactile high-tech environments in which viewer and space become one. This connection, established between ideology and technology, results in what Roosegaarde calls ‘techno-poetry’. His often interactive work connects people with art and people with people.”


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Guerrilla Moss Graffiti: 8-Step DIY Guide to Green Wall Art

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[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

moss graffit artwork examples

Seed bombs and shotgun shell sprouts are not the only weapons in a guerrilla war for urban gardens and green street art – moss is a great material that can be rapidly adapted and deployed to make statements on city surfaces as well.

moss wall art making

Indeed, using mosses allows artists to go above and beyond the ground, shifting from horizontal to vertical spans for a different look and added visibility. And, as it turns out, creating moss wall art is not as difficult as you might guess – do-it-yourself directions are shown in detail below.

moss art recipe process

First, you have to gather some moss, naturally, which you can then mix with water-retention gardening gel and some buttermilk then blend together for a few minutes to form a gelatinous substance.

moss graffiti guide steps

Shift your creation into a portable container then select and paint it onto a surface of choice – if the area will not be exposed to moisture, you may want to come back by and spray on some water from time to time.

anna garforth grow moss

Remember, too, that there are many ways to take this process further and create additional kinds of green artwork, mossy or otherwise.

moss graffiti removal subtraction

Meanwhile, if you find a surface already mossed over thanks to time and nature, selectively erasing sections of growth can be a fun form of expression as well.


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