Flor no asfalto

1

[TEXTO ORIGINAL]

Do alto do bairro Tupi, se enxerga o vale do córrego do Tamboril, de suas nascentes até sua foz, no Isidora. Frondosas espécies de árvores formam as matas ciliares, por onde perambulam aves de várias espécies, micos e lobos-guará. Crianças brincam e nadam nas águas límpidas do córrego.

Cenas como essa existiram há menos de 30 anos, quando os primeiros moradores chegaram ao bairro Jardim Felicidade, na região Norte de Belo Horizonte. O loteamento foi conquistado por um movimento de moradia atuante em bairros vizinhos. A Fazenda Velha, que ali existia, tinha dívidas de impostos com a prefeitura. A desapropriação se deu com recursos do governo, para auxiliar na construção das casas.

Os novos moradores eram pessoas de baixa renda, que viviam de aluguel. A infra-estrutura, como acontece nas periferias brasileiras, ficou para depois. No início, o bairro não tinha luz nem água encanada. A população utilizava as águas do córrego do Tamboril. Para o esgoto, cada casa tinha sua fossa séptica.

Moradores antigos contam que foi a chegada da Copasa que deixou o córrego poluído. A companhia fez a rede, mas não os interceptores, jogando todo o esgoto do bairro diretamente no Tamboril. A partir daí, a população foi se distanciando do córrego, que deixou de ser fonte de água pura e passou a ser vetor de doenças.

Escola e posto de saúde só chegaram quatro anos depois das primeiras casas. Muitas construções foram feitas sobre áreas de nascentes, o que, somado ao desmatamento, reduziu o volume de água nos córregos do bairro. Mesmo assim, ainda se encontra muita água brotando em quintais, calçadas, lotes vagos.

Uma dessas bicas aflora com força atrás da escola municipal. Ali havia uma caixa d’água improvisada, usada para banhos ocasionais, lavagem de carros e refresco de cavalos. Um projeto de qualificação dessa nascente, conduzido pelo sub-comitê da bacia do Ribeirão do Onça, em parceria com atores comunitários e a Escola de Arquitetura da UFMG, foi realizado recentemente.

A obra é simples, mas inundou de alegria aquática aquele canto do Felicidade. A água cai em uma fonte circular, mais alta, e dali para uma outra, mais rasa, quase uma piscininha. As crianças são frequentadoras assíduas. No primeiro fim de semana depois da reforma, uma ocupação espontânea, com carros de som e churrasco na via pública, ocorreu por ali.

Tudo isso poderia ser prosaico, não fosse o fato de que a imensa maioria das nascentes nas cidades brasileiras é jogada para debaixo da terra – como se devêssemos nos envergonhar da água que brota. Quem anda pela cidade com o ouvido atento volta e meia se depara com o som da água nascendo em uma boca de lobo.

A nascente do Jardim Felicidade deveria ser apenas mais um exemplo de uma série de espaços públicos em que a água faz parte da vida. Essa proposta só foi possível, ali, graças à luta da comunidade, que tem uma visão avançada do meio ambiente urbano.

A prefeitura tem um projeto para o córrego do Tamboril. Infelizmente, ele não foi construído junto com moradores – que ainda não conseguiram conhecer o projeto. Parece que o projeto da Sudecap cria uma grande avenida em torno do córrego, inviabilizando seu uso como espaço agregador do bairro.

Recentemente, lideranças locais expuseram esses pontos a representantes da PBH e de vereadores, a fim de criar um processo participativo de revitalização do córrego. Se a PBH souber aproveitar a oportunidade, pode fazer ali uma obra de referência, dentro da tendência mundial de requalificação de cursos d’água em áreas urbanas.

O córrego do Tamboril é bastante poluído, mas pode facilmente deixar de ser. Não há registro de enchentes graves, tampouco demanda viária relevante. Há todos os ingredientes para a criação de um modelo de parque linear urbano, com participação popular. O bairro e a cidade merecem.

Essa água que brota na Felicidade é como aquela flor que certa vez irrompeu o asfalto. Não custa lembrar as palavras do poeta: “Uma flor nasceu na rua! / Passem de longe, bondes, ônibus, rio de aço do tráfego. / Uma flor ainda desbotada / ilude a polícia, rompe o asfalto. / Façam completo silêncio, paralisem os negócios, / garanto que uma flor nasceu”.

SOBRE ORGANICIDADE

[texto original]

Timber buildings are regularly praised for their sustainability, as carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by the trees remains locked in the structure of the building. But what if you could go one better, to design buildings that not only lock in carbon, but actively absorb carbon dioxide to strengthen their structure? In this article, originally published by the International Federation of Landscape Architects as “Baubotanik: Botanically Inspired Biodesign,” Ansel Oommen explores the theory and techniques of Baubotanik, a system of building with live trees that attempts to do just that.

Trees are the tall, quiet guardians of our human narrative. They spend their entire lives breathing for the planet, supporting vast ecosystems, all while providing key services in the form of food, shelter, and medicine. Their resilient boughs lift both the sky and our spirits. Their moss-aged grandeur stands testament to the shifting times, so much so, that to imagine a world without trees is to imagine a world without life.

To move forward then, mankind must not only coexist with nature, but also be its active benefactor. In Germany, this alliance is found through Baubotanik, or Living Plant Constructions. Coined by architect, Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig, the practice was inspired by the ancient art of tree shaping.

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle

“I came in touch with some historic examples of living architecture while I was studying [at the University of Stuttgart] and was fascinated from the first moment on,” he explained. “The vision is a new way of integrating trees in architectural and urban design.”

As the name suggests, when shaped through a variety of means via pruning, bending, grafting, or weaving, trees can become extraordinary works of innovation. Early examples of living root bridges in Meghalaya, India, and the pleached hedge fences of medieval Europe reveal their additional value in the built environment.

Despite human intervention, this process can also occur in nature when trunks, roots, or branches in close proximity slowly fuse together. Known as inosculation, or approach grafting, it can arise within a single tree or neighboring trees of same or different species. Over time, as the limbs grow, they exert increasing pressure on each other, similar to the friction between two palms rubbed together. This causes the outer bark to slough off, exposing the inner tissue and allowing the vasculature of both trees to intermingle, in essence joining their lifeblood.

Series of sections through inosculation. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Series of sections through inosculation. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Ludwig’s Baubotanik, however, goes one step further. By incorporating a vegetal component to metal scaffolding and other construction materials, a living, breathing building is formed. Over time, as the trees age, their fused joints continue to strengthen, providing further load bearing support. Indeed, the ability of growing trees to incorporate foreign materials such as metal and plastic highlights the potential of Baubotanikal structures in urban design.

Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Unfortunately, not all tree species are suitable for such creative treatment. Ideal candidates must be flexible and vigorous with thin barks that can be easily grafted such as willow (Salix), sycamore/plane tree (Platanus), poplar (Populus), birch (Betulus), and hornbeam (Carpinus).

Ludwig elaborated, “For my PhD, I tested around 10 different species regarding their ability to inosculate. Plane tree, hornbeam, and beech joined very well and fast due to their thin, flaky bark. Those with a thick bark caused more problems when insoculated.”

Surprisingly, one top choice did not perform so well. “We used a lot of willows in the beginning due to their fast growth [and ease in propagation] from cuttings. However, we don’t use them anymore because they are not long lasting and the connection points between the plant and technical elements tend to rot.”

Even so, his early creations of a three-story willow tower, an osier willow footbridge and a silver willow bird watching station still stand, but not without some challenges.

Willow footbridge summer 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Willow footbridge summer 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Six years after the inception of the willow tower, Ludwig noted, “Heavy hailstorms, frost, fungal infections, and problems with the water quality all impacted on our growth predictions [for the fourth year], which fell behind expectations— a typical example of the influence of non-predictable factors.”

Thankfully, Ludwig and his close team of collaborators were able to solve these problems through selective replanting and technical adaptations. As a result, they have developed a system to cut back and replant certain trees without affecting the overall vitality of the structure. This system of redundancy allows losses of up to 30% of the trees without any adverse effects, but becomes more difficult to maintain as the structure ages.

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

The Plane-Tree-Cube, the largest baubotanikal building so far, incorporates sycamores instead and was open to the public during Landesgartenschau 2012, a regional horticultural show, in Nagold, Germany. A popular attraction, it was awarded the “Special Prize for Innovation” for Holzbaupreis Baden-Württemberg, a contest that judged unique buildings made from wood.

Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle

Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle

As a pioneer, his vision has also won awards for “Deutschland, Land der Ideen” (Germany: Land of Ideas), Übermorgenmacher (Creating the Day after Tomorrow), and Archiprix International, a competition in urban design and landscape architecture.

Ludwig, now an assistant professor at the University of Stuttgart, has found his role to be ever expanding. For the past year, he has served as a mentor and project leader for the University of Alghero in Sardinia/Italy. Hosting several design-and-build workshops for LandWorks, he shared his knowledge of processual design thinking with students from around the world through a hands-on approach.

Regarding future plans and goals, he replied, “We developed solutions to adapt to climate change in Stuttgart by using the potential of Baubotanik. This seems very interesting and urgent and we hope that we can contribute to this topic in the future.”

Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro

Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro

The value of Baubotanik should not be lost in today’s increasingly urban world. Unlike their dead lumber-based counterparts, living architecture continues to combat soil erosion, while providing oxygen, sustenance, shelter, and habitation. Trees can reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality through their roots. Moreover, they can even reduce energy costs due to their cooling shade. By reducing this energy demand, they in turn cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

As an integral part of the ecosystem, trees also convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into biomass, thereby mitigating climate change. But despite all these benefits, trees are still living things and must be treated as such in biodesign. Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig credits his success to being mindful of a key principle— to work out design rules that are derived from botanical rules of growth.

Detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

“If you do not respect the rules of growth in your design, the plant structure will not grow as you want it to and may even die.”

Only by working together with nature, only by cultivating a passion for the future of our world and our environment, can we truly move forward towards a more sustainable, balanced tomorrow.

EDIFICIOS VIVOS

[texto original]

Timber buildings are regularly praised for their sustainability, as carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by the trees remains locked in the structure of the building. But what if you could go one better, to design buildings that not only lock in carbon, but actively absorb carbon dioxide to strengthen their structure? In this article, originally published by the International Federation of Landscape Architects as “Baubotanik: Botanically Inspired Biodesign,” Ansel Oommen explores the theory and techniques of Baubotanik, a system of building with live trees that attempts to do just that.

Trees are the tall, quiet guardians of our human narrative. They spend their entire lives breathing for the planet, supporting vast ecosystems, all while providing key services in the form of food, shelter, and medicine. Their resilient boughs lift both the sky and our spirits. Their moss-aged grandeur stands testament to the shifting times, so much so, that to imagine a world without trees is to imagine a world without life.

To move forward then, mankind must not only coexist with nature, but also be its active benefactor. In Germany, this alliance is found through Baubotanik, or Living Plant Constructions. Coined by architect, Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig, the practice was inspired by the ancient art of tree shaping.

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle

“I came in touch with some historic examples of living architecture while I was studying [at the University of Stuttgart] and was fascinated from the first moment on,” he explained. “The vision is a new way of integrating trees in architectural and urban design.”

As the name suggests, when shaped through a variety of means via pruning, bending, grafting, or weaving, trees can become extraordinary works of innovation. Early examples of living root bridges in Meghalaya, India, and the pleached hedge fences of medieval Europe reveal their additional value in the built environment.

Despite human intervention, this process can also occur in nature when trunks, roots, or branches in close proximity slowly fuse together. Known as inosculation, or approach grafting, it can arise within a single tree or neighboring trees of same or different species. Over time, as the limbs grow, they exert increasing pressure on each other, similar to the friction between two palms rubbed together. This causes the outer bark to slough off, exposing the inner tissue and allowing the vasculature of both trees to intermingle, in essence joining their lifeblood.

Series of sections through inosculation. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Series of sections through inosculation. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Ludwig’s Baubotanik, however, goes one step further. By incorporating a vegetal component to metal scaffolding and other construction materials, a living, breathing building is formed. Over time, as the trees age, their fused joints continue to strengthen, providing further load bearing support. Indeed, the ability of growing trees to incorporate foreign materials such as metal and plastic highlights the potential of Baubotanikal structures in urban design.

Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Unfortunately, not all tree species are suitable for such creative treatment. Ideal candidates must be flexible and vigorous with thin barks that can be easily grafted such as willow (Salix), sycamore/plane tree (Platanus), poplar (Populus), birch (Betulus), and hornbeam (Carpinus).

Ludwig elaborated, “For my PhD, I tested around 10 different species regarding their ability to inosculate. Plane tree, hornbeam, and beech joined very well and fast due to their thin, flaky bark. Those with a thick bark caused more problems when insoculated.”

Surprisingly, one top choice did not perform so well. “We used a lot of willows in the beginning due to their fast growth [and ease in propagation] from cuttings. However, we don’t use them anymore because they are not long lasting and the connection points between the plant and technical elements tend to rot.”

Even so, his early creations of a three-story willow tower, an osier willow footbridge and a silver willow bird watching station still stand, but not without some challenges.

Willow footbridge summer 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Willow footbridge summer 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Six years after the inception of the willow tower, Ludwig noted, “Heavy hailstorms, frost, fungal infections, and problems with the water quality all impacted on our growth predictions [for the fourth year], which fell behind expectations— a typical example of the influence of non-predictable factors.”

Thankfully, Ludwig and his close team of collaborators were able to solve these problems through selective replanting and technical adaptations. As a result, they have developed a system to cut back and replant certain trees without affecting the overall vitality of the structure. This system of redundancy allows losses of up to 30% of the trees without any adverse effects, but becomes more difficult to maintain as the structure ages.

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

The Plane-Tree-Cube, the largest baubotanikal building so far, incorporates sycamores instead and was open to the public during Landesgartenschau 2012, a regional horticultural show, in Nagold, Germany. A popular attraction, it was awarded the “Special Prize for Innovation” for Holzbaupreis Baden-Württemberg, a contest that judged unique buildings made from wood.

Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle

Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle

As a pioneer, his vision has also won awards for “Deutschland, Land der Ideen” (Germany: Land of Ideas), Übermorgenmacher (Creating the Day after Tomorrow), and Archiprix International, a competition in urban design and landscape architecture.

Ludwig, now an assistant professor at the University of Stuttgart, has found his role to be ever expanding. For the past year, he has served as a mentor and project leader for the University of Alghero in Sardinia/Italy. Hosting several design-and-build workshops for LandWorks, he shared his knowledge of processual design thinking with students from around the world through a hands-on approach.

Regarding future plans and goals, he replied, “We developed solutions to adapt to climate change in Stuttgart by using the potential of Baubotanik. This seems very interesting and urgent and we hope that we can contribute to this topic in the future.”

Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro

Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro

The value of Baubotanik should not be lost in today’s increasingly urban world. Unlike their dead lumber-based counterparts, living architecture continues to combat soil erosion, while providing oxygen, sustenance, shelter, and habitation. Trees can reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality through their roots. Moreover, they can even reduce energy costs due to their cooling shade. By reducing this energy demand, they in turn cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

As an integral part of the ecosystem, trees also convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into biomass, thereby mitigating climate change. But despite all these benefits, trees are still living things and must be treated as such in biodesign. Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig credits his success to being mindful of a key principle— to work out design rules that are derived from botanical rules of growth.

Detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

“If you do not respect the rules of growth in your design, the plant structure will not grow as you want it to and may even die.”

Only by working together with nature, only by cultivating a passion for the future of our world and our environment, can we truly move forward towards a more sustainable, balanced tomorrow.

WARKAWATER

[texto original]

Discussão cada vez mais urgente no planeta, a questão da água (ou da falta dela) gerou nos últimos tempos uma acalorado debate no Brasil, especialmente em regiões metropolitanas – cujo exemplo óbvio é São Paulo – que se vêem cada vez mais próximas da escassez completa, e até que isso de fato ocorra, rodízios severos no abastecimento que colocam o estilo de vida da maior parte dos cidadãos em cheque.

Embora tenha recebido a merecida atenção no Brasil apenas recentemente, o assunto já é debatido há bastante tempo em locais onde a escassez é realidade constante. Com isso em mente os arquitetos italianos Arturo Vittori e Andreas Vogler, do estúdio Architecture and Vision, desenvolveram o projeto de uma torre de água, uma estrutura feita à mão para ser implementada (a princípio) em áreas rurais de países em desenvolvimento, com especial atenção ao caso da Etiópia.

WarkaWater em sua primeira aparição na Bienal de Veneza de 2012.Fonte da imagem: Yogui.co
WarkaWater em sua primeira aparição na Bienal de Veneza de 2012.

O WarkaWater, nome inspirado na árvore Warka, tradicionalmente usada para reuniões comunitárias na Etiópia, consiste em uma trama estrutural de bambu dividida em cinco módulos que, quando montados, atingem 12 metros de altura, e um revestimento interno de plástico reciclado.

Pele interna de plástico reciclado. Fonte da imagem: Yogui.co
Pele interna de plástico reciclado. 

A estrutura pode ser montada pelas próprias comunidades sem a necessidade de andaimes ou eletricidade e tem como objetivo produzir água potável a partir do ar. O funcionamento é bastante simples: a pele interna de plástico faz com que a umidade do ar condense e escorra até um pequeno reservatório localizado no centro da estrutura, gerando diariamente até 100 litros de água potável.

Reservatório para a água condensada. Fonte da imagem: Yogui.co
Reservatório para a água condensada. 

Uma segunda versão do projeto, WarkaWater2, já foi desenvolvida e prevê a coleta da água da chuva, neblina e orvalho.

WarkaWater2. Coroa no topo tem como objetivo afastar pássaros. Fonte da Imagem: Architecture and Vision
WarkaWater2. Coroa no topo tem como objetivo afastar pássaros.