0707 Urban Ecologies

Environmental zoology in our eyes should be primarily focused on the reuse of urban areas to create a symbiotic relationship between humans and animals. We chose the Barbican Centre in London as an exemplary site and implement an ecology within its walls, between its housing towers and within its cultural facilities.Places like the Barbican exist all over the world and can best be described as huge assemblages of staged minimal living spaces. The brutalist character of this residential and cultural centre provides an opportunity to illustrate a radical transformation from dead modernist concrete block to a living, breeding and breathing colony of humans and animals.

Tectonically the idea of the Veils as boundary/barrier conditions, which divides the framework into different animal-human zones. The aesthetic design provide safety and division by disguising the conventional cage-like barriers, while simultaneously providing an ambiguous boundary for a two-way communication between human and animals.  he Veil is an ambiguous barrier which provides a new human-animal relationship.  From the standpoint of animals, humans are perceived as equal living beings in the ecological environment.

The residential towers are transformed into bird colonies using the hydroponic vertical gardens as nesting and breeding grounds. The towers attract different birds in different times of the year according to their migration patterns. A conventional static façade becomes alive and changes on a daily basis. Migrating birds work as  messengers between similar symbiotic towers all over the world.

It is in this felt layer, with its strong capillary- and water-retaining capacities, that the plants are established at a density of 10 to 20 plants per square meter. A drip irrigation system at the top of the wall delivers a continuous flow of dilute fertilizer solution containing a complete complement of macronutrients as well as oligoelements to the plants.Watering is provided from the top with the tap water being supplemented with nutrients. The process of watering and fertilisation is automated. The whole weight of the ‘Vertical Garden’, including plants and metal frame, is lower than 30 kg per square metre.

The result is a mural that recreates a living system such as is found in nature and which recalls the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Author: Tobias Klein, Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui