Plywood Is the New Concrete: Eco Architecture on the Rise

you’ve been hiding under a concrete slab for the past
decade, you’ll know that grey is out, and lush green pastures are
very much in. In contrast with the consume-all waste-all culture of
the 80s and 90s, these days we’re beginning to take an enlightened
approach towards the way our lives impact our environment. Here we
look at architectural and design firms that are creating beautiful,
sustainable structures across the world. This is eco architecture
at its very best.

Our favourite eco-friendly, architectural feats from around the

Bosco Verticale

Milan, Italy

Labelled as a ‘vertical forest’, these two residential towers
were built in 2014 in the Isola district of Milan. Each tower
houses over 2,000 plants, and the amount of new green land that
this created exceeds 7,000 sq m; reducing CO2, smog and noise
pollution in the area. Countless botanists and horticulturalists
were consulted in the construction of the tower blocks, which
create a wonderfully surreal Jack and the Beanstalk-like effect on
the approaching civilian.


Paris, France

The brainchild of the activist-architect Michael Green, this
‘plyscraper’ plans to break conventions with its use of reinforced
timber panels in a high-rise structure – the tallest of its kind.
The use of timber would sequester 3,700 tonnes of CO2, while
avoiding the carbon footprint caused by using concrete slabs. The
vision incorporates a kind of social utopia too, with communities
brought together in urban agricultural spaces, social housing and
easy, sustainable travel connections.

Step Up on 5th

Santa Monica, California

The Step up on the 5th building holds 46 affordable apartments
for the rehabilitation of homeless and mentally ill people in the
area. It was built suited to the land so as to maximise on daylight
and the natural breeze, which reduces the need for electricity and
air conditioning by 50 per cent alone. All-natural flooring and
insulation, as well as a myriad of other sustainable features, make
this an uncompromisingly conscientious spot.

Cardboard Cathedral

Christchurch, New Zealand

The cheery fa├žade of this church rose from the remains of the
earthquake that devastated the Christchurch area in 2011. ‘Disaster
architect’ Shigeru Ban brought in old shipping containers and
reinforced cardboard to create the triangular structure, which
serves the community’s civic as well as religious requirements.


Hamburg, Germany

In a move that was supposedly as simple as a right click on
SimCity, Hamburg decided to revitalise a whole riverside district;
increasing the size of the city by 40 per cent. HafenCity’s shiny
new office buildings and perfectly planned urban landscapes are
green to their core, with constructions like the Marco Polo tower,
Der Spiegel’s HQ and the Unilever building all pushing the
boundaries of how a corporate office should look, function and take
its responsibility to the community seriously.

Bushwick Inlet Park

Brooklyn, USA

Central Park 2.0, Bushwick Inlet provides multipurpose sports
grounds, natural leafy greenery, beautiful waterside views, and
thoughtful ethics. The building on its grounds has efficient tandem
water heating/cooling systems, geothermal walls, solar power
roofing and recycled rainwater irrigation.

Masdar City

Abu Dhabi

Not yet built, Abu Dhabi’s government is providing the seed
funds to create a city powered completely by renewable energy,
aiming to lure forward-thinking citizens and companies to take
residence inside its walls. Only electric and clean-energy vehicles
will be allowed inside, and the whole street-plan is constructed to
manipulate airflow, decrease temperatures and reduce the need for
air conditioning. Construction of the headquarters for the
International Renewable Energy Agency within the city began in
2013. There are also no light switches or water taps in the city,
and old plantation palms will feature heavily as construction

Namba Parks

Osaka, Japan

An oscillating jungle canyon crossed with a huge shopping mall,
Osaka’s huge multi-use space features shops, an undulating
waterfall-riddled garden sloping up nine floors, and even room for
private allotments for city-dwellers to grow vegetables.

Buk Museum of Art

Seoul, South Korea

A welcome addition to the hyperactive city that is Seoul, this
gallery-cum-park space provides a peaceful oasis in the thriving
residential area. From above, it looks like a shattered pane of
green glass, as bright white walkways cut jaggedly across wide
elevated areas of turf. Rooftop gardens filter rainwater, and
insulate the museum below, which inside an array of cultural and
educational exhibitions are available to the community.

This image is on holiday

Around Pavilion

Copenhagen, Denmark

On the grounds of a castle, two architects made use of both
local resources and local young craftsmanship in building this
beautiful multi-use pavilion. In traditional minimalist
Scandi-style, the vertical lengths of blond Nordic pine allow the
space to be flooded with light while remaining a loose,
self-contained structural entity.

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