Some of the more outlandish green building concepts are often criticised for lacking feasibility and offering a false ideal.
Due to the evolving nature of the green building sector, however, ideas that were once considered pie-in-the-sky are now coming to fruition.
A prime example is the concept of bioreactor facades on buildings, which produce bioenergy, insulate buildings and suck carbon emissions from the air.
The concept plans for ‘Bio-City’ by Stefan Shaw and John Dent of the UK take this notion to great heights. Bio-City, a green community concept, was awarded a special mention in the 2009 eVolo Skyscraper Competition.
It calls for a 1,850,000 square metre algae-clad façade that would harness the pollutants emitted in the planned community, and enable the creation of 1,300,000 barrels of renewable biodiesel annually.
When this 1,200 metre tower, to be located above Spaghetti Junction in the UK’s Birmingham, was initially conceived, the technology was not yet commercially available to make this kind of development remotely feasible.
While technology and industry practices have not quite caught up to the standard that it would take to make this major development completely possible, certain elements included in the plan have actually come into existence.
The world’s first bioreactor façade is now being implemented in BIQ house in Hamburg Germany, showcasing how emerging technologies and practices make these outlandish green concepts a reality.
The issue with quashing outside-the-box thinking is that it also quashes potential. While it is important to draw a distinction between the feasible and the purely conceptual – especially when communicating such ideas to wider public audiences – it is just as important to allow these concepts to flourish.
The architecture industry plans buildings that are seemingly too tall to construct, and railways to deliver trains that are not yet in existence.
It is an industry traditional to design first and let the details catch up later, letting creative freedom lead the way. The industry has known for generations that even if a certain technology does not exist now, it most likely will in the future, a concept that the green building sector is proving time and again to be true.