Mankind faces a challenge comparable in size with the industrial revolution to build a sustainable society. In order to succeed, we need to learn how to coexist with nature. We propose a building that aims to become a symbol; not of power nor wealth, but of a new era of harmony and interplay between nature and mankind.
The development trend of contemporary metropolises is to increase the population density. This leads to developing cities vertically instead of horizontally. Although increasing the population per unit area of the city may reduce the daily commutes, it reduces the daily interaction of people with green spaces, animals and insects. This creates a gray, dull city and may increase stress and depression among the inhabitants. Moreover, the diversity of animals and insects will be reduced significantly. On the other hand, building parks, as a suitable place for animals, may not be economically feasible due to the land price. In the era of Green Architecture, where building sustainable is becoming commonplace, what if the collection of green buildings could go a step further and actually become a functional habitat for birds and wildlife?
To address all of these issues, we developed a new high-rise typology which is essentially integrating human and animal inhabitants in high-rise buildings. The design further elaborates a combination of rational, man-made apartments and natural, organic-formed bird nests on the facade of a skyscraper. Birds and insects are nature's premier architects, using a disarranged form to build functional homes in which to live, reproduce and care for their young ones. Recycling sticks, branches, grass and mud to construct their shelters, they are undoubtedly the first creators of Green Architecture.
Down town Shanghai was selected as the site of our proposed skyscraper, due to the fact that it is a suitable representation of a contemporary dense city. The tower is designed to be inhabited by humans as well as animals and insects, such as bees, birds and squirrels! It includes parking, commercial and residential areas and green indoor spaces.
The building provides flexible plans by using a general module for wet zones, allowing the inhabitants to part their apartments to suit their specific needs. The outer skin is composed of a wide range of natural materials such as wicker, straw clay and stone. They provide good insulation and comfortable habitats for different species.
The cross section of the tower consists of a central core which encloses circulation as well as mechanical equipments. The skyscraper's lower levels which are made of stone, mud and straw clay, provide more solid facade for the wild and birds to inhabit; therefore, it is designed as a multistory parking. Top floors of the parking also provide spaces on the facade to be inhabited by bees! The next layer of the proposal provides more community oriented activities such as shopping center and public spaces. This layer has a U-shaped plan to allow birds as well as natural light to enter inside. Furthermore, it provides a green space for both humans and animals. Higher levels are intended to be residential. The higher level floor plans are made of sharp-edged apartments, surrounded by a ventilated faced made of wicker. The wicker facade starts from the commercial area to the top of the tower, allowing a height development for the future. Wickers are braided (woven) in various ways, forming the nests on the facade, allowing the window openings and ease of internal ventilation.
The tower would poetically create closer and richer contact between humans and animals while accommodating them using the same environment. If their activities are done in the same architectural space, the natural environment becomes important to both. This will increase the responsibility in maintaining the environment, which both animals and humans use.