Hypergreen Tower - A Green Skyscraper for a Sustainable Future of City Building

Skyscrapers and towers of glass and concrete are certainly not a favourite type of building for those of us who prefer to take an environmentally friendly approach to living.  Their air conditioning and lifts eating up valuable energy, the dark underground car parks and the problems of people living on top of each other in tiny boxes like rabbits in stacks of hutches makes the high-rise towers seem like something that we should be campaigning against.

Traditionally, environmentalists are indeed opposed to high rise buildings. In many places around the world, they fight construction plans, more often of office buildings, on the basis that less dense buildings should be favoured. This opposition is based on the principle that apartments are not such nice places to live. When we look at the experiments of tower blocks and high-rise estates, one would be tempted to agree completely.

However, with the incredibly high price of land in city centres, skyscrapers allow less ground space to be occupied, thus reducing land costs for the building.  The relocation of businesses to tower blocks could also release land, which could then be used for other purposes like green spaces or less-dense housing.  Skyscrapers can also result in a reduced distance between homes and worlkplaces, thus saving time, cost and energy used in transport.

A French architect Jacques Ferrier in co-operation with a  construction company called Lafarge has designed a building known as the Hypergreen Tower which is intended to solve the problems created by the traditional skyscraper.  The 246 meter high building meets the most demanding criteria of energy economy, production of energy to provide power within the building, as well as economy of materials.

The architect conceived the skyscraper to give maximum exposure to natural light. The south-facing side of the Hypergreen Tower is covered with 3,000 square metres of photovoltaic cells. Wind turbines and rainwater collectors are located at the top of the building.


3D video impression of the Hypergreen Tower

The tower provides more than 94,000 square metres of usable floor space.  Its exterior is a mesh of Lafarge's Ductal concrete, which optimizes the natural light passing through the building and also channes the wind toward the turbines on the roof. The mesh also helps to regulate ventillation.  The north face of the building allows sunlight to pass through whilst the south-facing side is used as a screen to stop overheating.       

A system of "Canadian wells" (air inlet pipes which travel 1 to 2 metres below the ground) further assures a circulation of fresh air and avoids power-consuming air-conditioning. It is said that Lafarge is likely to  favour recycled or recyclable materials for much of the construction.

In fact, Jacques Ferrier has visions beyond simple ecology of materials. Because a tower, even a hyper green one, is conceived better within a balanced city, rather than in specialized zones like shopping, working, housing and leisure zones connected by motorways.

The archirect also envisagess a more flexible way to use the Hypergreen tower by sharing space.  Offices are not usually used at weekends and evenings. Therefore, why not allow the communal spaces like meeting rooms, restaurants and reception lobbies to be used during non-offoce hours.  Various clubs, associations and other customers would be delighted to benefit from the additional areas to use as meeting or relaxation places.

Nobody dreams of a society where absolutely everyone lives and works in massive tower blocks but eco-skyscrapers demonstrate that it is possible to make huge buildings which are sustainable and envirionmentally friendly.  Renovation and insulation of older buildings to make them more energy efficient, and construction of new green buildings are probably the paths to follow for the cities of the future.

Thanks to Ecopolit.eu for the inspiration for this feature.