A self-sufficient pop-up greenhouse has been installed at a busy intersection in Copenhagen, Denmark, that will foster a thriving ecosystem for more than 60 unique plants in the urban environment.
Danish architect Simon Hjermind Jensen of SHJWorks recently unveiled Biotope, a sculptural pavilion that houses a microcosm of plants and insects. 60 different seeds have been sown into the soil and a beehive has been attached inside the installation, in order to foster a thriving and evolving ecosystem of activity for the enjoyment of passersby. The installation is an experiment to understand how a microcosm of plants and insects can survive when sited at an exposed and harsh urban location.
Created in the likeness of a primitive organism or bacteria, Biotope comprises a translucent shell made from a 4-millimetre-thick polycarbonate membrane that is set in a curved concrete bowl. The installation measures 7 metres in length, 4 metres in width and 3 metres in height at its tallest point. Surrounding it, the edge of the bowl functions as a bench and collects rainwater that flows into a basin of soil through small holes in the shell. In turn, the plastic shell and the concrete bowl become a self-watering greenhouse. 60 different seeds have been sown into the soil, which will continue to attract insects as they mature. A beehive is attached on the inside of the shell, allowing bees to have direct access to both the outside and the inside of Biotope.
The sculptural and organic shell of Biotope mimics the silhouette shape of a primitive organism or bacteria, exploring the idea of human’s relationship to such a form. “Can feelings of sympathy towards objects or structures establish a stronger and more caring relationship to the place in which we live and inhabit?” Jensen asks.
SHJworks has set the project on a small triangular green space in the middle of an intersection in Copenhagen and located adjacent to a popular train station, allowing for Biotope to be seen daily by many pedestrians, cyclists and motorists who will have the opportunity to observe the evolution of the greenhouse over its three-year installation period. Neither maintenance activity nor other interference will take place inside the shell during this period and the public will not be allowed to access the interior, allowing for the greenhouse to be entirely self-sufficient. The shell’s site-specific form is optimised for views from the three-lane road.
“Our climate will change,” SHJWorks said, “and maybe we will integrate plants and biological microcosms in our future dwellings and cities. Most likely there will be harsher and more exposed environments on our planet, and we ask ourselves if a solution will be to create microclimates where we — like the bees in this project — have our homes connected to and intertwined with?”