Environmentally-conscious "vertical forest" buildings are a phenomenon that is catching on in many cities around the globe.
Offsetting a building's physical footprint by creating an urban ecosystem where the flora can help to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen to improve a city's air quality is not just about "green architecture" but improving our cities.
Architecture firm Penda, in collaboration with building solutions company "Tmber", have proposed a new residential building in Toronto, "Tree Tower Toronto". The building attempts to take the environmentally-conscious approach to the next level by creating a modular structure made from cross-laminated timber (CLT).
According to Archdaily, the 18-storey tower will reach a height of 62 meters and will comprise over 5,000 square meters. The Toronto tower would include 4,500 square metres of residential area with 550 square meters dedicated to public areas including a cafe, a daycare centre and community workshops.
[Related reading: Australia's tallest wooden building sold]
"Our cities are an assembly of steel, concrete and glass," Penda Partner Chris Precht told Dezeen.
"If you walk through the city and suddenly see a tower made of wood and plants, it will create an interesting contrast.
"The warm, natural appearance of wood and the plants growing on its facade bring the building to life and that could be a model for environmental friendly developments and sustainable extensions of our urban landscape," he said.
The tower's CLT units would be assembled off-site, then delivered and stacked onto the foundations and around the central core. Afterwards, wooden facade panels would be installed and sealed.
Tmber, the construction and design partner on the proposed Toronto project sell themselves on designing branded CLT panels in distinctive architectural sequences to enable diverse and dynamic housing solutions that intermingle with nature to demonstrate a good life in great communities can be built by a carbon zero process.
"The construction industry consumes 40% world resources and is a major cause of pollution and related health concerns. We intend to change that," Tmber said.
"CLT is a great material to manufacturer residential units off-site and assemble on site.
"This provides less waste and a precise, high-detailed manufacturing process. It also decreases the time required or energy used on-site. The key to inspired modular projects is their connection to nature.
"Like Habitat in Montreal 50 years ago, a connection is established not only in function but in meaning to the surroundings.
"The members of such a 'habitat' are connected to a sense of community which becomes a source of pride and privilege besides a wonderful connection to the changing cityscape."Penda is no stranger to modular designs that incorporate environmental elements. The firm was also responsible for a project called Vijayawada Garden Estate in India, which features a high-rise residential development for ‘pooja crafted homes’, for those who are seeking an outside of the box design and a natural living experience.
The architects based the design of the Vijayawada Garden Estate Tower on a modular shelving unit which uses a structural grid to support individual elements. This system allows residents to personalise their homes by selecting prefabricated modules of flooring, facade details and planting from a catalogue that will then be inserted into the tower’s frame.
Vijayawada Garden Estate Tower
In an age of mass-production and a certain conformism in the building industry, we try to use modern construction techniques to bring back a level of individualism and flexibility for the inhabitants of a high-rise."
"Therefore we divide a tower in its separate elements: the structure, walls, facade, ceiling & floors, infrastructure, balconies and plants. Inspired by a modular shelf, the structural grid and the infrastructure are the only constant elements in the building." Penda said.
"This framework for a tower can be filled with prefabricated modules, which the home-owner can chose from a catalog. The modules are ranging from different floors, to facade element, to railings and a variety of pots for plants to grow along the home. By choosing their own elements, we offer the homeowners a tool to become the designers of their individual apartment."