Gardens on a rooftop

Start

Plants, a social project or the delicate art of reconciling urbanism and landscape

Dn the relationship of cities to the landscape, it is the status of architecture as an object, i.e. independent of the landscape context, that has dominated from the modern movement onwards and still dominates the majority of architectural production. However, over the last thirty years or so, this state of affairs has gradually been called into question by many contemporary architects and a fundamental change is slowly emerging. Climate change and the evolution of society seem to mark a decisive turning point in the art of planning our cities to give a role and meaning to plants in urban life.
 

An ingenious idea in Madrid: installing green spaces on the roofs of buses and bus shelters

Colorious, joyful and aesthetic at first glance, this Madrid initiative represents much more. It is the revitalization of an undeveloped living space, as part of a general interest approach. It is the artist and landscape designer Marc Granen who is at the origin of this initiative and the observation of the existing and unused 100,000 m2 on the roofs of buses. One square metre of greenery can absorb up to 20 kilos of CO2, on the scale of Madrid that's more than 2 million kilos!

"Move in green" is the project initiated in the summer of 2017 by Madrid to install green spaces on the roofs of buses, gardens in motion. The 130 vehicles on lines 27 and 34, the busiest in the network (17 million users per year), took part in the test. Like all large cities, Madrid is looking for natural solutions to reduce pollution and beautify the urban landscape.

Cyrille Schwartz, founder and Managing Director at Corporate Garden near Paris, explains that " This innovative introduction of plants makes sense for people and for the city: Many benefits occur thanks to the naturally generated ecosystem: plants, insects and frogs have put their suitcases there! In addition to the absorbed CO2, these new roofs function as thermal regulators thanks to the water they retain, thus lowering the temperature of the buses by 3-4 degrees. »

The implementation of these green roofs throughout the city serves an environmental purpose. These green roofs will be designed to "absorb pollution, heat and noise", says José Antonio Antona, Spanish landscape architect and project leader. Muévete en verde". The plant acts as a formidable mediator: it encourages participation in joint action, it reassures, it delays. Good for morale, the usefulness of plants stimulates creativity and innovation, like Marc Granen's ingenuity. Through its power to create value and commitment among people, its place seems obvious and a source of productivity!

According to Cyrille Schwartz, the project must be sustainable. Plants represent a formidable lever of general interest for citizens. Businesses must also make it their own in order to nourish their broader "raison d'être" with public opinion. Integrating plants into the life of companies is a source of efficiency: you don't plant for a day! A plant requires care: maintained, picked, eaten, it has a unifying role within the company's teams.
The project must be participatory. The plant is a facilitator of collaborative work, it nourishes the spirit of the company. Through the use of plants, each employee, at all levels, has his or her place to take.
The project must be open to all the company's stakeholders. This approach will promote and accelerate the integration of the company into the daily life of each stakeholder in a sustainable manner.
 

Reclaiming the intelligence of the plant 

The plant is an opportunity because of the immediate benefits it generates: a virtuous circle where the gain in meaning, in commitments, in interactions, within the company can be naturally deployed later on in society to improve the fulfilment of all.

Evidence shows that an efficient public transport network (tram, metro, train, bus) and reduced travel are the basis for sustainable mobility. And what could be better than using the intelligence of plants and plants to help us change the way we live in the future: Stefano Mancuso, Italian pioneer of plant cognition, explains "it's a beautiful piece of work, the first to show the decision-making mechanism in a plant when it comes to weighing the pros and cons before going into the light."... The plant makes many decisions, because in permanent interaction with its environment and without the possibility of packing up at the slightest alert, it needs to make the most of its environment at every moment and in every season in order to survive. A multitude of intelligent mechanisms in the plant world!

Some plants in particular have super depolluting powers, such as ivy, chrysanthemum, fern, cyclamen, ficus... Plants improve air quality in general and some plants are super absorbers of pollutants, especially VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These gases are released by car traffic, but also by paints, glues, PVC... from our interiors (formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide, ammonia, acetone...). The air in the rooms, where we spend 80 % to 90 % of our time, is actually more polluted than the outside air. Let's not forget either that vegetalization is a mini-ecosystem in itself. As a true home for insects and birds, it can allow the maintenance of a certain biodiversity in cities as well as the creation of biological corridors to conserve species within the urban habitat.

Why not enjoy unlimited reading of UP'? Subscribe from €1.90 per week.

Paris has also started to do so: the first "smart passenger shelters" have been in the making since 2015, with around a hundred shelters equipped with photovoltaic panels and around fifty others with green roofs. Obviously not enough, because despite the 2,000 new shelters installed by JCDecaux, the widespread use of greenery on bus shelter roofs is taking a long time to become widespread. When will Parisian buses start to flower?

 
To go further
- Book" The hidden emotions of plants" by Didier Van Cauwelaert - Edition Plon, November 2018 
 
Headline photo: Mark Grannen - © PHYTOKINETIC YOUTUBE
 

Anything to add? Say it as a comment.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
urbanism
Previous article

Design and safety, new allies in urban planning?

landscape
Next article

Minéral-Végétal : Two visions of the garden

Latest articles from URBANISM - ARCHITECTURE - LANDSCAPES

JOIN

THE CIRCLE OF THOSE WHO WANT TO UNDERSTAND OUR TIME OF TRANSITION, LOOK AT THE WORLD WITH OPEN EYES AND ACT.
logo-UP-menu150

Already registered? I'm connecting

In order to contribute to the information effort on the current coronavirus crisis, UP' proposes to its readers a free entry to the latest published articles related to this theme.

→ Register for free to continue reading.

JOIN

THE CIRCLE OF THOSE WHO WANT TO UNDERSTAND OUR TIME OF TRANSITION, LOOK AT THE WORLD WITH OPEN EYES AND ACT

You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.
0 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
WhatsApp
Email
Print