SEATTLE — With every passing day, the world’s population inches closer to eight billion people, with research estimating it will reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. Alongside this population growth comes the increasing strain on resources needed to sustain the demand for food, energy and even space. Urban and rural planning for new cities will have to account for the growing demand for resources, but also for emerging security threats such as environmental degradation.
A creative approach toward solving these issues has been “ecofying” architecture, which entails incorporating green ecosystems into the engineering of buildings.
Currently, the most notable example of green architecture is Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Gardens by the Bay was built on the premise of environmental sustainability, so from the release of hot air to bio-waste, its ecosystem works in tandem to maintain symbiotic relationships with every dimension of the gardens. In fact, 11 of the garden’s man-made Supertrees boast environmentally sustainable functions, including gathering and storing solar energy, collecting rainfall and acting as air ducts.
Singapore’s innovative leap into the future by ecofying architecture and city planning touches upon the possibilities green cities or even stand-alone buildings can bring to urban and rural development. To avoid broadening the gap between developing and developed nations, governments and NGOs alike will need to work alongside to incorporate this kind of technology and projection of sustainability in developing countries.
China has been the first developing country to embrace the concept of ecofying cities. Italian design firm Stefano Boeri Architetti will build two “vertical forests” in the eastern province of Nanjing. These towers would house 1,100 trees and 2,500 shrubs, which would suck 25 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year and in turn, produce 60 kg of oxygen every day. The firm hopes to build on the vertical forest concept and eventually build a “forest city.”
In April 2017, a green design proposal to be implemented south of the Saharan desert in Africa won eVolo’s architecture contest. The Mashambas Skyscraper project (mashambas is Swahili for “cultivated land”) illustrates a vertical farm that would grow produce on the top floors and house fertilizer and seeds. The remaining space could double as space for trade, education or even medical treatment. In order to tackle food and economic insecurity, as well as many other issues, this is the kind of design that needs governmental and international support.
Although these cities have not come to full fruition yet, this kind of new city planning is emblematic of the potential of ecofying architecture.
– Sydney Nam