Can we construct not only another skyscraper, but a sustainable urban environment that grows food for the 21st century city dweller?
Normally when I look at the new skyscrapers crowding the London skyline, I see clever design, perhaps even the use of new materials, but also something built upon the foundations of old modern values; built for the rich and powerful elite, they often exude exclusivity, prestige and pride of place – the new glass Shard is a case in point. There’s too often a huge disconnect between the building and the community below.
So I was pleasantly surprised to come across this cool-looking futuristic ecological urban skyscraper concept designed by German architects Agnieskzka Preibisz and Peter Sandhaus. Called Green8, the design is a vertical garden residential tower built in a twisted figure-8 curving around elevated gardens and orchards, and is planned for the eastern quarter of Berlin, at Alexanderplatz.
“The state of society in the twenty-first century requires that we develop new visions for living in densely populated inner cities.” – Agnieszka Preibisz
It seems Utopian. A vertical garden city. The design is organised around the concept of vertical farming, with vegetarian food production taking place in the central ‘lung’ of the structure, enclosed in a transparent membrane instead of glass. While also enjoying an incredible view of the city, each apartment has their own garden. Equally, the building is also designed to foster a self-determining community – the residential building as a housing cooperative with apartments, working places and amenities for all generations: kindergarten, sport studios, offices and workshops, community spaces, a restaurant, a senior care center and a farmers market.
Building for the times we live in
In an area of Berlin known mostly for shopping, the architects want to introduce into the area a lifestyle more in harmony with nature. According to Preibisz,“The architectural discussion is often led by investors saying ‘I want to build something here and make a profit by selling the apartments,’ but ideally we want a cooperative to stand behind our project. We would like to found a cooperative to finance the project mostly for people who will actually live in the building and participate in the community.”
“Current trends towards a ‘sharing-spirit’ and a new participation in the community life counteract the anonymity and isolation in the metropolis. While in social networking, the border between the public and the private spheres is being renegotiated, architecture and urban planning of cities such as Berlin lags behind these significant social and demographic changes.”
Quoted comments reprinted in part from a blog in Green8 by Agnieszka Preibisz and Peter Sandhaus (dezeen.com)