EFFEKT Studio Plants: Miniature Trees For The Venice Architecture Biennial
As population and urban settlements increase around the world, we are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects our presence has had on the environment. Contemporary infrastructure development involves carving out large sections of the natural ecology of a place to be then replace with steel and concrete. Let’s see EFFEKT plants 1200 trees.
Not only does this disturb and destroy the biodiversity of the place but it also permanently alters the climate of the area as well, owing to the urban heat island effect. Moreover, the materials and processes used for construction tend to seep into the local water table causing a biomagnification event in the flora and fauna. The scars caused by modern living and expansion are becoming painfully obvious every coming day which has resulted in a considerable public outcry for better living solutions.
In the interest of long term sustainability, it is important to establish a natural balance in our contemporary architecture. As an answer to the growing environmental problem, a bold new display of architectural design integrated with local ecology at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 by Danish design studio EFFEKT challenges and forces us to question our preconceived notions of green design. Let’s see EFFEKT plants 1200 trees.
For an installation titled “Ego to Eco”, the designers planted 1200 growable tree seedlings. The Copenhagen base studio plant the saplings which will be remotely controll from Denmark and will grow over 6-months, reaching its full effect during the Venice Architectural Biennial.
The forest will essentially grow around 7 of EFFEKT’s architectural projects, forming a landscape of fiction filled with living trees. The studio quoted “our installation in Venice showcases a series of ideas, concepts, strategies and designs for living and building, for producing, consuming and revitalizing the ecosystems we are part of and depend upon”, to Designboom.
Ego to Eco
The phrase came about from the studio’s philosophy of integrating with our surrounding ecosystems. The project represents a natural ecosystem that is support by factual research. The installation provides solutions for constructing, maintaining ecosystems as humans and how a natural system like this can take humans a long way. The entire project challenges how one designs them and looks into aspects of innovative ways of how humans live, build, design and produce within them. The miniature ecosystems also shed light on how humans have the capabilities to replenish ecosystems through community building and integrated green architecture.
Prototypes like the ‘Ego to Eco’ project were specifically designed to spark curiosity and wonder in viewers. Observing projects like this gets one to thinking as to ‘what could have been’ and ‘what could be?’. Having self-sufficient ways of living and building, being resource-efficient while using modern architectural design principles and planning that people in this day and age are used to.
The installation has 7 different architectural projects depicted as models of small communities in the lush forest. These were mainly to shed light on how communities can be built in the future and how collaborative living, which is living amongst each other and living amongst nature can have huge ecological and human developmental benefits. Having these communities represented was also a way for EFFEKT to show that cities and natural ecosystems can coexist and thrive amongst each other for the mutual welfare of nature and humans.
Few of the 7 structures include a pivotal structure known as the ‘Forest Tower’ which in scale is a 45 metre high Tower built in a helical shape and make of steel. A model of the ‘Urban Village Project’ is a co-living neighbourhood equipped with functional urban farms designed by EFFEKT Studio with IKEA’s research lab.
The model of the forest is make on a scale of 1:100.
The table on which the model is make, known as the greenhouse ebb and flow bench of size 3.6m x 2.2 metres is fitt with a water tank that had a submersible pump, pressure sensors and a control box.
The 1200 trees were grown at a nursery and feature 4 species for the Venice Architectural Biennial which are Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris), Norway Spruce (Picea Abies), Sitka Spruce (Pinus Sitchensisa) and Hybrid Larch (Larix Eurolepis).
A wooden tabletop on top of which the installation sits was provid with a waterproof coat underneath to prevent the rotting of the wood and install with a horticultural lamp that emits electrical light that allows plants to grow. Usually, these types of lamps provide a similar light spectrum to that of the sun and can be custom made for the plant that is being grown specifically. The table is fitt with the miniature structure models made of birch wood of the small houses, buildings and the helical tower after which the saplings were plant. The tabletop rest on an aluminium support structure that is cover with wooden side panels.
Water and nutrients circulate the roots of these seedlings in a hydroponic growth system integrating a unique ebb and flow method of irrigation. Hydroponics is a type of horticulture in which plants are grow without the use of soil and can be use extensively to manage every aspect of the growth cycle of a plant.
Terrestrial plants like the ones use in the display will be grow by having only their roots expose to the nutrition fill water solvent while the whole plant is support in inert materials that can be use as a substitute for soil. The nutrients for the plants can also be source sustainably which further reduces the total environmental impact of the display in question.
Excess water drains into a grow table, which is a tank beneath the planter that houses the system.
The design studio can track and monitor the system in real-time from their office in Copenhagen, thanks to sensors that monitor pressure, humidity, and temperature. This added level of control takes away the uncertainty that comes from the many variables involved in the growth of the said system.
For six months, the trees will grow in the Venice Architecture Biennale’s exhibition hall. After the biennale, EFFEKT will transport the trees to Denmark, where they will be plant as part of an urban forestry effort which will be display as a nature village showcase. The project has the capability of absorbing more than 1000 tons of Carbon dioxide over 50 years.
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