A team of South Korean designers are turning city structures inside out and conceptualising how skyscrapers could one day be constructed within the world’s largest trees. Could the future of our cities be found in the forest?
Designed for entry into a skyscraper competition, Ko Jinhyeuk, Cheong Changwon, Cho Kyuhyung, Choi Sunwoong, a team of South Korean designers have called for a futuristic forest city, where towers are constructed in the hollowed-out trunks of giant sequoias.
Found predominantly in Western USA, giant sequoias are the largest single trees in the world, with average heights of 50 to 85 meters and diameters of six to eight meters. This particular species of tree is also among the oldest living organisms on earth, research has pointed to the fact that many of these trees are believed to be over 3,000 years old.
What, then, could potentially urge anyone to hollow out these ancient beings in the name of design? "This project attempts to show a new architectural approach to human coexistence with nature, in harmony with the nature's temporality," the team said.
"The architecture quietly takes place in the empty void of trunks, without hindering the breathtaking landscape formed by the giants. It then becomes active as an artificial organ to replace the trunks rotten away."
"When the heartwood – the structural backbone of the tree – starts to rot, the trees fall dead from their own weight," the team said.
This variety of giant sequoias were selected by the team as a potential house for urban structures, as their height and volume could serve the needs of vertical, high-density occupation. In addition, the root system of a giant sequoia is relatively shallow, and as these trees die and begin to rot they fall under their own weight.
By selecting the trees that are no longer living, construction could render a new life with the memory of the old still intact. By constructing buildings within these trees and reinforcing the root system, the trees would be able to stand long after their original lives had been lived out.
"It complements the structural reinforcement and features, not only for the humans but for the giants to stand." the team said.
To keep the trees structurally sound, a structural core would be constructed to run up the centre of the trunk, while an additional lattice-like cage would form an outer casing behind the thick bark.
In order to divide the structure for multi-use areas, a series of platforms would provide spaces for education, laboratories, exhibitions and observation decks. To service these facilities, the design allows for water to be drawn up from the ground using a system that mirrors the tree's natural collection method.
Should such a design be implemented in this environment or not, seem to be devoid of the question the design team was attempting to ask the audience. The conceptual design attempts to re-establish an urban environment in harmony with the natural environment. Is it reported that the team had strong feelings about the effect of humanity’s plundering of natural resources and the resulting change in earth’s climate.
"The desire of human has been endless and it is incapable of coexisting with the nature," the team said. "Crying in agony, the nature seems to fight back with natural disasters all around the world, and it is increasingly visible that the earth is ever more sickened."
The team described deforestation as "one of the most deadly sins to nature", and linked this process, among others, to the cause of natural disasters. With an increase in temperatures and an overall warming of the earth’s climate the giant sequoias selected for this concept have reportedly been lucky enough to miss out on any direct effect of a changing climate.
It is worth noting, however, that global warming overall has seen an increase in the breeding rates of insects that inhabit and kill trees, and in particular, climate-induced pathogens have killed spruce and pine trees in western North America, according to Yale's Forestry School.
The designers hope their proposal will help others to reimagine ways of working within the natural boundaries and resources available to us on the planet. By highlighting the risk climate change poses to tree’s and vegetation worldwide, the team also hope to inspire a new aspect of appreciation and respect for nature.
"It may be a valuable experience for those to feel the synergy of the beautiful landscape of the giant sequoia forest fused with the amenity space, which is quite different from the grey building forest of cities," the team said.
The scheme was among 22 honourable mention in this year's eVolo skyscraper competition, which invites architects and designers to conceive futuristic towers.
More information on this project can be found HERE