Vincent Callebaut has proposed an urban oasis that sees flowing vegetation fused with an eco-friendly design to create a community of commercial and domestic spaces that promotes urban forestry.
Vincent Callebaut has created a concept design that reclaims and reuses the urban environment for the city of Angers, France. Arboricole seems more like a greenhouse than an urban building, with vegetation drooping from its nine floors, but even this definition doesn’t do justice to this unusual building. It simultaneously offers collaborative office spaces and a range of various restaurants and apartment spaces, fused together with an intricate series of garden balconies.
The design was part of Imagine Angers, a competition that called innovative proposals to transform the western French city. Vincent Callebaut was excited to undertake a project in “Europe’s plant capital” and devised this dynamic concept, which, in many ways, epitomises his hopes for the city — and perhaps the urban landscape as a whole. To develop the scheme, Callebaut closely collaborated with Bouygues Immobilier, a French real estate developer, along with the landscape firm Sempervirens, who was assisted by the INRA (French National Institute of Agricultural Research).
As Callebaut explains, “Living in an apartment at the heart of a vertical nourishing forest reminds us of our childhood dream. The dream of building tree huts to live better in symbiosis with ecosystems.”
This project is all about life, dynamism and reuse. Arboricole is only conceptual, but would occupy 9400 square metres on the corner plot and rise up to the sky with vegetation and greenerys. The ground floor includes many public spaces, such as a concert hall and various bars and restaurants. The second floor above is conceived as a business incubator dedicated to cultural projects.
The designers insisted that the building cater to younger generations, specifically those aged 25-35, for whom notions of urban life is ever developing. Consequently, an inn with 90 studio and one-bedroom units offers pleasant temporary accommodation. 50 two- to four-bedroom apartments are found above, providing connected, adaptable, and adjustable housing. On the roof, in-keeping with the project’s mission of ecological responsibility, the building is topped off with solar panels.
Callebaut’s aim was to promote “Intergenerational and transcultural diversity, flexibility and reversibility of spaces and uses, friendliness, better living together and integration of hanging gardens, all together they culminate into this design.”