The weird and wonderful creations of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) can be found in many corners of the globe, but South America has remained uncharted territory – until now. The ever-imaginative architecture firm's first footsteps on the continent will give rise to a residential tower close to the equator that will double as an "urban tree farm" for the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.
Dubbed Iqon, the structure is around 25 km (15.5 mi) from the equator and is set to become the tallest building in Quito. It is essentially a huge stack of individual concrete boxes standing 33 stories tall, with each offering terraces and oriented to make the most of uninterrupted views featuring volcanoes and rolling hills.
Some of the apartments on each floor are also through units, meaning they are equipped with openings at the north and south ends. This not only maximizes the views, but creates opportunities for cross ventilation. The building's roof is adorned with stepped terraces and an in-ground lap pool with views over the city.
The building's lower levels, meanwhile, will also feature stepped terraces surrounding an open public plaza, with the interiors filled by retail spaces. The architects note that Ecuador boasts more plant species per square meter than any other country on Earth, and in keeping with this theme will cover the Iqon's exterior with native trees and plants.
The tower will sit on the edge of a large park in the city's center, and the architects aim to let the park "climb up and into the building" by placing trees and plants on the terraces. They say each terrace will feature a different species, with walls hollowed out beneath each balcony to serve as planter boxers and accomodate sprawling tree roots.
Eventually, this is imagined to become a "vertical display of the biodiversity of Quito" but it will act as more than an art installation. Once the trees and plants outgrow their planter boxers, which is expected to take around five years, they will be pulled and replanted in parks around the city. Thus the "urban tree farm" description.
After revealing the plans for Iqon last week, BIG says construction on the tower is now underway.
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