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A
Z
Living Architecture: Urban Forest
Current
2020
list Article list

Living Architecture: Urban Forest

Summary

Hong Kong is loved for the dynamism its exceptional density generates but the city suffers from heat, congestion, and noise. Green spaces counteract many of these damaging effects so we looked at ways in which planting can be integrated into Hong Kong’s streets while supporting the vibrancy of its neighbourhoods.

We wanted the benefits of biodiversity to be ingrained in the design of the cityscape and to make Hong Kong’s streets less like routes from a-to-b and more like places to be enjoyed and truly lived in together. Our urban forest, inspired by Hong Kong’s abundant ‘ficus trees’, points towards a better and more optimistic vision for repairing and inhabiting our cities.

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Proposal

With over 7.5 million residents inhabiting just over 1,000 square kilometres, Hong Kong’s metropolitan area is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. As one of the world’s main financial centres, Hong Kong is also highly developed with the largest number of skyscrapers of any city in the world. With this come the usual stresses of modern-day urban hubs that increasingly threaten our ecosystem.

We wanted to find a celebratory and creative solution not only to significantly lower Hong Kong’s carbon footprint but also to alleviate the day-to-day discomfort caused by air and noise pollution that burden its population. A solution that makes Hong Kong a better place for people of all ages and backgrounds and that makes health and wellbeing key criteria for future city-planning.

 

Our urban forest, inspired by Hong Kong’s abundant ‘ficus’ trees, uses bio-technology as a positive and creative force to rekindle inhabitants’ relationship with nature. The trees are like living buildings that become part and parcel of the city’s green infrastructure. They eliminate their own emissions in construction and can be used to offset those of other building projects. These living buildings change with the seasons, harmonising with the forces of nature striking a natural equilibrium that is climate-positive.

The shade afforded by our urban forest will reduce the need for air-conditioning and the leaves will naturally help cool and clean the air encouraging people to spend more time enjoying the streets and, on their balconies, rooftops, and terraces. Trees also absorb sound and encourage wildlife to return to cities thereby favouring biodiversity attracting birds, insects, and flowers. Organic waste material including fallen leaves can be used for compost or energy via anaerobic collectors.

 

We believe our Living Architecture ideas could stimulate Hong Kong in a way that promotes inter-generational living by introducing generous and welcoming public space in the streetscape. And all importantly a public realm that is inherently urban in its character, retaining the extraordinary energy that is the hallmark of Hong Kong.