Ecology Case Studies



All Things Water

Whitney Purification Facility and Park : New Haven, CT : Steven Holl

Steven Holl not only presented this project as a work of art, but also the study of water in all of its steps as separate entities that ultimately reach one ecosystem. The design of the park is created with six different sectors, also arriving at the six processes of water purification1. Intention within the building was to create a best practices ideal in terms of watershed resources and green design. All natural habitats were preserved along the site for native plants and birds that migrate to the landscape. The green roof is home to sedum and about 7,000 perennials which were created to provide a year around interest.


Some of the energy metrics are fascinating for a building that wants to exude a high caliber of well-being. Electric lighting has the ability to be off 50 percent of the time because of successful daylight. The facility has given Connecticut the largest green roof in the state, includes 88 well of ground floor heat pumps and anticipates to save 850,000 kilowatts of energy annually.


This building is a great example of high level technology with a project without a budget, it houses what a facility should when it comes to energy and using it as a form of education. The bigger question that this project presents though outside of it’s cost (46 million) is it’s life span. The stainless steel has a life expectancy of 100 years, which is a goal, but if we are asking the holistic question of ecology. What happens when the building no longer survives?


Vertical Forest

Bosco Verticale : Milan, Italy : Stefano Boeri Architetti

The concept on densifying reforestation is what comes about the Bosco Verticale project. This building by Boeri Studio takes the limits within metropolitan and large urban areas to understand that reforestation is not only a challenge but one that can be provided for within these city boundaries. Being the first example of this kind of analysis, a residential building that also serves as a series of forest for species; multiplies trees and also provides for the cooling load needed within buildings of this size. The building community hosts 900 trees all similar in size and over 2000 plant species from shrubs to florals. 

One floor within the Bosco Verticale expands to an area of 75,000 square feet of forest. This kind of micro climate provides humidity, cleans air, absorbs Co2 and produces oxygen. The importance for why projects such as this are great examples is not so much the fact that high rises are just in our future, but to create architecture that is also ecological— architecture that provides more than just a space to live, but a place to exist in harmony when it comes to dynamic living within nature and safety. As humans, nature is a need, our roots and history provide an inept form of why it is a space that we must live in, not only does this reduce stress, but also gives a form of physical health and accountability to see where we need to go in terms of habits from exercise to eating. 


The built project is a risk, that should be taken on all endeavors when asking the larger and difficult questions of how we can do better as architects and also in interdisciplinary creations when stepping into other realms of design, specifically with nature.


Unified Design

Inspired by a traditional Swedish barn house, the Uppgrenna Nature House encompasses successful programmatic unity while enhancing the importance of eco dwelling1. The house serves as a personal refuge for conference, meeting and treatments. From the demolished barn location, Tailor Made has remade what once was and placed modern building techniques and aesthetics into the design process while continuing the respect for what resides on the site previously. Its entire facade is fit with hatches for a dynamic facade that provides more shutters when needed. The Nature House concept in which this building derives its ideas from was created by Bengt Warne in the 1970’s1 and presents the idea that the core living space is also surrounded by a greenhouse which preheats for air ventilation and serves as a natural heat and calling source for the prospective seasons. A greenhouse concept is solely built on simple systems that can provide the biggest effort for a building energy. With Tailor Made and their consulting group Green House living2, the collaboration was able to provide an effective and compelling project with several techniques such as water close loop systems, food producer, greenhouse ideals.


The water system contributes two equitable benefits for the Nature House goals, providing food and cleansing water which releases the house from its duties to have attachment within the municipal sewer system. Large plant bed facilitate sewage that is fed through a cycle which maintains fruits and vegetables while filtering all toxins and waste. This system is proof that when we are smart donors to the way we live and the value in living healthy, wehave water systems just as these that then prevent sewage and waste going into hazardous areas along with no need for city systems to manage waste.


The overall vision for the project is to understand that our contributions to living are as important as the systems that we choose to implement. Creating building that not only are moments of learning but also provoke healthy decisions and motivations can make change in the areas that we choose to live and the way we design. Knowing that as architects and designers we can promote a specific judgment that enables people to understand that their actions are what will bring change in the systems that are given to any building and also those that choose to learn and reside alongside a positively changing built environment. (more information)