Sometimes outlandish, often fantastical, but always compelling, Vincent Callebaut's projects range from realizable ideas like towers covered in greenery to conceptual works depicting a near-future in which architecture, technology, and nature are blended to make cities a more pleasant – and sustainable – place to live.
The Belgian architect heads his firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures in Paris, France. Over the years he has developed a recognizable design language that draws inspiration from nature and makes liberal use of honeycomb patterns and complex geometry. He seems poised for greater prominence now though, as at least two of his projects are due to be built in the next few years.
Let's take a look at some of his most interesting designs.
5 Farming Bridges
Now that the so-called Islamic State has been expelled from Mosul, Iraq, the reconstruction of the city can begin. The 5 Farming Bridges proposal involves rebuilding a like number of bridges destroyed during the fighting and using them as residential units and urban farms. Existing rubble would be used as building material, with flying drones and spider-like robots doing the actual construction.
The Manta Ray proposal envisions a manta ray-shaped ferry terminal in Seoul, South Korea. The remarkable-looking building would float in place to deal with seasonal flooding and sport a huge roof covered with a solar power array, along with a wind turbine farm. Biodegradable waste and high-tech water turbines would transform the river's kinetic energy into power too – all of which would allow the ferry terminal to power itself and send a surplus to Seoul.
2050 Paris Smart City
Created for a competition seeking ideas to turn the City of Light into a City of Green in the coming decades, 2050 Paris Smart City calls for 15 new sustainable towers to be built on the rooftops of existing buildings on the city's famous Rue De Rivoli. The towers would feature residential units and sport dragonfly-shaped solar panels on their facade, providing all required electricity for the project.
The Nautilus Eco-Resort is a paradise imagined for the Philippines that would allow well-heeled tourists to vacation without polluting the planet (excepting on the flight there, presumably). The whole thing would be arranged into a shape inspired by the Fibonacci sequence and include a dozen spiral hotel towers that rotate to follow the sun. Nearby, a like number of sea snail-shaped buildings would include exhibition spaces and hotels, while at its center would be a large timber building covered with vegetable gardens and orchards.
Tour & Taxis
Callebaut's Tour & Taxis sees the Belgian architect propose a return to his home country to transform a former industrial area in Brussels into a vibrant sustainable community. The area would comprise three ski jump-shaped high-rises that would be topped by solar panels and covered in greenery. Other notable elements include wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, and the production of fruit and vegetables.
Hyperions consists of a cluster of connected timber towers in New Delhi, India, that are named after, and take design cues from, the world's tallest living tree. It will boast extensive greenery and enable occupants to grow their own vegetables on balconies, as well as the facades, the rooftops, and in specialized greenhouses. The interior is taken up by apartments, student housing, and office space, and it will all be powered by solar panels. According to Callebaut, this one is going to be built and is due to be completed by 2022.
Agora Garden Tower
It can be difficult to imagine how exactly all these renders would translate into brick and mortar buildings, but Taipei's Agora Garden Tower shows the way. Sporting a twisting form inspired by DNA's double helix shape, the building twists 4.5 degrees each floor, turning a total of 90 degrees in all. Once completed, it'll feature 23,000 trees, as well as a rainwater capture system and solar power.
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