Energy-harvesting "spacecraft" tops Belgian apartment block concept

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The Bloom project is currently in the design phase(Credit: Vincent Callebaut Architectures)

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Belgian proponent of sustainable architecture Vincent Callebaut has unveiled his vision for renovating Brussels' Botanic Center apartment block (named after a nearby botanical gardens). The concept involves transforming the existing 1970s-era concrete structure into an energy-producing and greenery-clad building that more properly befits its name.

Regular readers will be familiar with Callebaut's signature style by now, and Bloom follows a similar design language to his previous works, though is more modest – and realizable – than some of his other works, such as his vision for a sustainable Paris, for example.

Callebaut envisions leaving the basic concrete structure in place, but installing 274 planter beds into its existing ornamental facade, filled with around 10,000 plants chosen by botanists. Italy's Bosco Verticale gives a real world example of this kind of approach.

The plants would be drip-fed and maintenance would need to be carried out twice a year. The windows and other fittings would need to be upgraded too, but Callebaut reckons the changes would result in both 50 tons of C02 being captured each year and the improvement of the building's thermal performance.

The other big change slated for the rather squat apartment block involves building upwards with the addition of a rooftop structure called the Chrysalis. This would be made from timber and steel and could either serve as a retail, residential, commercial, or mixed-use space.

Sustainable technology rated for the project centers around a large solar panel array on the roof of the Chrysalis, which would combine with 42 wind turbines to produce an estimated 128,340 kWh/year. This, the architect says, could go toward covering the building's electricity needs.

The project has been commissioned and is currently in the design phase. At the time of writing, there's no information available on the likelihood of it going forward.

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