Green Roofs, Vertical Gardens, and Other Living Systems
By Emily Josephs & Kate Swasey
Most Danes have noticed that there have been heavier downpours over the last few years. This trend will indefinitely continue into the future. Meteorologists expect that precipitation will increase by 25-55% during the winter and by up to 40% in the summer. According to the Copenhagen Climate Plan, thundery showers will become 30-40% heavier while at the same time there will be longer periods of drought between them. These changes will have considerable significance for Copenhagen, a city already stricken by massive amounts of rainfall. Heavy summer rains will create more extensive floods if nothing is done. Sewer capacity is limited, and definitely not equipped to deal with this future increase in rainwater of 30-40%. One of the three methods that the City of Copenhagen is instituting is the management of rainwater locally instead of guiding it into inundated sewer systems. By managing rainwater locally, we can minimize the amount of rainwater flowing into the sewers so that it does not become necessary to build even more infrastructure.
The Carlsberg site is approximately 330,000 square meters. Currently, about 35% of the site is permeable while the remaining 65% is impermeable. With an average annual rainfall of 61 cm, this means that the site can handle a volume of about 70,455 m3 of rainfall annually. If 50% of the impermeable areas are converted to permeable in the redevelopment of the Carlsberg site, then a volume of 135,878 m3 could be handled on site. This almost doubles the amount of rainfall that the site can handle annually.
Denmark’s long coastline and abundance of fish and marine life imply potentials to reconnect Danes with their historically maritime ways. In addition, the site offers an ideal opportunity for purifying the heavy rains that fall on Copenhagen. High ground water and storm water flooding are existing conditions that must be dealt with upon any development of the site. In this light, we propose to engage the ephemeral movement of water through the design of this new development, AQUATECTURE. We will demonstrate this living systems strategy using the Ny-Tap building as a pilot study, along with a flexible program for the surrounding Carlsberg area.
The building skin of the Ny-Tap building is made up of faceted bricks which provide the perfect canvas for various living systems to take hold. In fact, they resemble the scales of a fish with their rigid armor protecting the building. We will play off of this existing, protective skin and create a biomimetic, tiered filtration system that also incorporates unique recreational programs for the building’s users. In addition, the existing building skin will be punctured in such a way that the indoor/outdoor transition becomes elusive. The reflective qualities of glass and water will be played up to deepen the understanding of these transitional spaces. This will set the stage for managing water while informing visitors and inhabitants of local hydrology. Elements will include ‘the fishbowl’ pool, low-light tolerant plantings, black and greywater infrastructure, and an array of new types of spaces derived from the intent to engage the user as well as increase the level of living systems performance.
In this sense, water may be the problem but it also becomes the solution. ‘The fishbowl,’ an eco-revelatory living system and design ideology, becomes the agency of change for this place. Through the acts of filtering, cleaning, collecting, and flow, we aim to create a hydrological armature that can serve buildings throughout the Carlsberg redevelopment plan. The design of ‘the fishbowl’ mimics the transparency of a literal fishbowl with its transitional hydrological skins and atriums. Performance features are delineated by the water treatment roof gardens. Danes will embrace their innate water culture and become exposed to powerful hydrological functions that serve the living systems on the Ny-Tap Building and once again unite the site with its historic roots.
The program incorporates a variety of native plantings, particularly mosses, which will take hold on the building envelope. The glass openings of the building envelope will become deliberate penetrations, used as either user access or water holding tanks with a variety of fish species and other life forms. On each terrace there are a series of pools associated with filtration and collection in order to process grey and blackwater. The majority of these areas can be accessed by the building’s inhabitants, while the remaining portion will be closed off for safety and health reasons. The original form of the fishbowl will generate the form of the various pools, shade covers, and viewing areas along these terraces. Different vantage points of the overall site create connections with the other buildings, topography, and open space. Finally, ‘the fishbowl’ is the hydrological spectacle and culmination of this comprehensive living system. The idea of the fishbowl as a programmatic emblem goes beyond its literal meaning, where it informs transitional spaces that are open to public view and exploration. The fish-scale concrete pavers are designed to knit together all of the new maritime uses in the district as part of a comprehensive streetscape standard for Carlsberg. By combining large-scale urban hydrology with a recreational park, the design becomes a symbol for the city and adjacent neighborhoods through transformative ephemeral experiences.
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