Urban Daydreaming exhibition in Hong Kong: How trees bring joy to the urban jungle

Hong Kong Urban Daydreaming Seminar

Urban Daydreaming exhibition in Hong Kong: How trees bring joy to the urban jungle

When it comes to designing cities, urban planners focus on practicality. There’s rarely room for poetry or romanticism. However, French industrial design duo, Ronan Bouroullec and his brother Erwan, believe these qualities are vitally important. That’s why they’ve produced a range of 14 scale models expressing their vision for contemporary, tree-clad urban environments.

In Hong Kong to open their acclaimed Urban Daydreaming exhibition at the Hong Kong Design Institute, Ronan Bouroullec explained how incorporating trees, nature, shadows and water features into urban design can encourage people to pause and think.

“What makes the quality of a city?” asks Bouroullec. “Of course, that it works technically – that is very important, but it’s the charm and the dreams and the relation between constructions and trees. And I think it needs to be considered more seriously. And I think probably the success of this exhibition explains this need to find solutions to integrate nature in a new way, because we all always agree on the fact that we miss nature.”

Urban Daydreaming includes thought provoking models such as “Clouds” – a floating garden that creates a roof for an urban promenade, adding plants to the cityscape while also casting shadows on those who walk in its passage.
Urban Daydreaming Seminar

Another innovative design, “Turnstiles”, incorporates a turning platform in a street. “You are walking in the street and at a certain point you find yourself on this platform that is turning. It’s about cutting your habits,” says Bouroullec.

Before making its debut in Asia, Urban Daydreaming was first exhibited at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. It then went on a tour of Europe. Since then, various cities have already embraced the designs.

“Clouds” was the first to be realised, and now features in the Miami Design District. The brothers have also been chosen to revive six historic fountains on the Champs Elysées in Paris, which will feature intricate bronze and crystal trees when unveiled next spring. However, the designers also see huge potential for greener solutions in Asia.

Before visiting Hong Kong to open Urban Daydreaming, Bouroullec was in Japan, where he identified a need for more nature in Tokyo and Kyoto. “It’s really divided,” he says of the split between city and nature in those cities.

One of the simplest ways to fuse nature and urban design in cities like Tokya, Bouroullec suggests, is “Vines”, a jungle-like design for pathways canopied by climbing plants spread between masts – an idea inspired by Asian cities where tangled electricity cables hang in a mess.

Urban Daydreaming Seminar

“Extract from this the idea that you have urban lighting and then chains and from that there are holes in the ground and, depending on the city, using good plants that grow in it, and it’s not a big investment,” says Bouroullec.

“These are simple principles,” he adds. “Travelling in certain cities I find it extremely hard, and it’s linked partially to our way of living, but also to tough environments. I don’t pretend that we will save the city with this project, but it can produce a bit of joy and a smile.”

Urban Daydreaming is on display at d-mart, HKDI & IVE (LWL), 3 King Ling Road, Tseung Kwan O, until 17 February 2019.


Source: https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/interiors-living/article/2170983/dream-cities-why-trees-and-nature-are-needed-bring-joy

Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline

Councils tackle urban tree decline

Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline

Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council and the Waitemata District Council in New Zealand might be oceans apart, but they do share a common concern – the decline of their urban tree canopy due to growing populations and overdevelopment.

Research conducted by Greater Sydney Commission in 2017 showed that some of Sydney’s leafiest areas including Warringah, Hornsby and Willoughby have seen the highest percentage of loss in their urban tree canopy.

Similarly, Waitemata, just north of Auckland in New Zealand, has lost almost 13,000 trees between 2006 and 2016, due to increased private land ownership and high development rates. To combat the decline of their urban forests, local governments are exploring new ways to revive urban greenery in cities.


Auckland greening initiatives

Auckland City Council has launched a new program called ‘urban ngahere,’ meaning ‘network of trees’, which aims to increase city greenery by up to 30 per cent. The program coordinates planting initiatives with members of the local community – like schools, farmers, developers and social groups – to plant and maintain trees across Auckland. These efforts are complimented by a three-pronged strategy that includes interpreting data around tree loss, growing canopy and protecting trees from pests and diseases.

John Mauro, the council’s chief sustainability officer, said that Auckland is one of many large cities under pressure to protect trees against overdevelopment, population growth and other factors like climate change.

“A healthy urban forest enriches our communities, our local economies and our natural environment. Auckland cannot become a world-class city without a great urban forest,” he said.

“Some of the key challenges to our urban forest that we are monitoring include; population growth and urbanisation, ongoing issues with weed and pest control, diseases such as kauri dieback and myrtle rust and factors caused by climate change,” Mr Mauro said.

Another exciting initiative in New Zealand is the Million Trees project, which aims to plant one million native trees and scrubs across Auckland in three years. This partnership between Mayor Phil Goff and the New Zealand Department of Corrections has already facilitated the planting of 750,000 trees to date, with inmates managing tree planting and maintenance.


Sydney greening initiatives

Across the sea, the Sydney Northern Beaches’ Council has joined Auckland City Council in exploring innovative ways to counteract development and increase urban tree canopy.

Compelled by a recent population boom, the council has launched a draft Urban Tree Canopy Plan to protect tree cover in the Sydney Metropolitan area. The plan aims to ease the impacts of Sydney’s growing population by planting 5,000 new trees each year, plus introducing an offset program that will plant two new trees for every one that is removed.

Michael Regan, Northern Beaches Mayor, said the plan will be supported monitoring the tree population, and encouraging support from the Sydney community.

“The immediate focus will be on collating accurate baseline data to allow us to monitor the actions of the plan and ultimately measure how successful we are in protecting and maintaining a healthy and diverse canopy cover,” he said.

“Engaging our community in protecting and enhancing our urban trees will also be a critical factor in achieving the objectives of the Urban Tree Canopy Plan.”

Source: https://www.governmentnews.com.au/urban-forests-councils-tackle-urban-tree-decline/

Amazing eco-tech innovations from Singapore Green Building Week

Eco-tech Innovations | Singapore

Amazing eco-tech innovations from Singapore Green Building Week

During Singapore Green Building Week 2018, more than 12,000 policy makers and professionals from 31 countries gathered for the Build Eco Xpo. The purpose of the event was to showcase solutions to help the built environment withstand rising challenges – like congestion, air pollution, rising temperatures, flooding and insecurity.

With Asia’s annual urban growth rate of 2.7% per year being nearly 27% greater than the global average, technology was a key focus of the event. Innovators showcased groundbreaking technologies that will help Asia’s built environment to thrive in a future shaped by climate change. Here are two of the best technologies that caught the eye of urban experts.


GraviPlant horizontal trees

Sideways-growing trees that appear to cheat gravity were a talking point at the Build Eco Xpo. Biologist Dr Alina Schick, managing director of Visioverdis, the German firm behind GraviPlant, explained how the trees are planted in pots clamped to the sides of buildings. The pots rotate, ‘tricking’ the trees into growing sideways.

Because they are continuously revolving, Visioverdis’ trees are exposed to more sunlight than ordinary trees. As a result, they are much bushier, with double the biomass of regular trees. That means they can filter more pollutants from the air, fix more carbon and produce more oxygen. They also have a cooling effect. In fact, according to Schick, a building adorned with greenery is about twice as cool as a concrete surface.

In terms of energy expenditure, you might think these trees would be expensive. However, Schick explains how the benefits offset the costs. “A single unit uses 30 watts of power from a computer that automates rotation, irrigation and lighting. But that’s offset by the cooling effect of the trees”, Schick says.


The PHI 1080 – A solar-powered sustainable canopy

The PHI 1080 is a multi-purpose sustainable canopy developed by Indian entrepreneurs Priya Vakil Choksi and Samit Choksi. The canopy not only provides shade and solar-powered lighting, it also harvests rainwater and even charges your phone while you sit under it.

The canopy’s mast contains USB ports for charging, but its main function is as a filter for cleaning rainwater that funnels down. The mast is linked to an underground plumbing network, which can draw on the rainwater when needed. It features intelligent controls that automatically adjust the lighting levels, depending on the time of the day, plus a window that allows passers-by to view the rainwater harvesting process.

Yap Su Chii, director of food-saving non-government group ZeroWaste Food, said “The PHI 1080 canopy looks deceivingly simple. But it incorporates sustainable design elements such as harnessing solar and rainwater. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it is functional and can be easily installed anywhere and everywhere.”

Singapore’s futuristic horticulture park will be the first place outside of India that will feature the PHI 1080.

PHI 1080 canopy

Investment in green infrastructure grows along with Scotland’s population

Scotland Green Infrastructure

Scotland’s population is growing at record rates, with most people residing in the central belt and high-density urban areas. To cater for the increase in city living, mixed-use properties have become more common as developers seek to maximise land. While the built environment boosts the economy and provides more living options, it comes at the cost of green spaces.

Urban greenery offers a range of benefits, including minimising air pollution, combating climate change, and enhancing mental health. Plus, it’s aesthetically pleasing and makes shared spaces more inviting. To ensure quality of life is maintained in urban areas, government and local authorities are proposing major investment to make Scotland’s cities greener than ever.

Two funds – the Green Infrastructure Fund and the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund – have already provided a combined £15 million for rejuvenating urban areas with poor quality green space. These funds will be used to preserve and develop natural spaces in and around city areas, including ponds, reservoirs, sports grounds, parks, gardens and cycle lanes.

For example, the £2 million landscaping project at Countesswells Woods in Aberdeen will create sought after green space for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and is a prime example of how thoughtful engineering can create sustainable living spaces for a whole community.

Thanks to these pioneering projects, more planners, architects, civil engineers and developers are beginning to realise the true potential of green infrastructure, especially when linked to a considerate stormwater management design. For decades, the approach to rainwater in urban areas of Scotland was to manage water away from buildings. However, as major cities continue to thrive, there’s a collective shift towards harnessing water as a resource to keep Scotland green.

Source: https://projectscot.com/2018/09/the-case-for-green-infrastructure-investment-in-scotland/

Hong Kong Polytechnic University launches new project to monitor urban tree stability

urban tree stability - Hong Kong

Urban trees need structural stability to survive strong winds and weather events. But how do we assess the stability of tree roots and therefore the tree itself? Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) recently kicked off the Jockey Smart City Tree Management Project. This large-scale project will tailor-make and install sensors on the lower trunks of selected urban trees to monitor their tilting angle in a 3-dimensional manner. Leveraging smart sensing technology (SST) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the project will monitor urban tree stability to enhance timely mitigation measures to increase urban tree longevity.

Dr Miranda Lou, Executive Vice President of PolyU, said, “Committed to the pursuit for application-oriented research, PolyU researchers will apply smart sensing technology and Geographic Information Systems for monitoring tree stability. Our vision of establishing this system is to facilitate green management in the city for longer tree lives, so as to further improve our air quality for enhancing the living environment for the local community.”

Ir Hon Chi-keung, JP, Permanent Secretary for Development (Works) of HKSAR Development Bureau, said, “This project is a good opportunity to showcase Hong Kong’s positive attitude towards innovative technologies and technology applications. Through the close co-operation between the tree management departments and the project teams, an effective tree monitoring system will be established to enhance the tree management works in all aspects, enabling the continual development of Hong Kong into a safe and liveable city.”

Data collected will be used for a quantifiable analysis of the trees’ root plate movement and then a threshold developed based on numerous environmental factors. When the tilting angle of a tree exceeds the threshold, the project team will be alerted to conduct a visit to verify the data for the purpose of calibrating the system. When considered necessary, it will also inform the relevant tree management team to undertake actions in a timely manner.

Commencing in February 2018, approximately 8000 urban trees across the territory will be monitored over a 3-year period. Through early notification and response, the project aims to increase longevity of invaluable urban trees in Hong Kong.

Source: https://www.opengovasia.com/articles/hong-kongs-polyu-to-apply-smart-sensing-technology-in-urban-tree-management

Study finds London’s trees may absorb as much carbon as tropical rainforests

green park london

In dense urban cities like London, city parks are beloved for the green space and respite they provide. They also help to keep the heat island effect in check by absorbing carbon dioxide. In fact, a study published in Carbon Balance and Management found that urban forests in London may be storing as much carbon as tropical rainforests.

One of the researchers of the study, Mathias Disney, said, “Urban trees are particularly effective at absorbing carbon dioxide because they are located so close to sources such as fossil fuel-burning transport and industrial activity.”

To determine just how good the trees in Camden are at absorbing carbon dioxide, Disney and his fellow researchers at University College London (UCL) set out to measure the trees in the London borough of Camden. Using airborne LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scans of trees combined with LIDAR scans conducted on the ground, the researchers not only estimated the biomass of the 85,000 trees in Camden but also created a formula to predict the differences in size-to-mass ratios between urban and non-urban trees. In areas such as Hampstead Heath, researchers found trees store up to 178 tonnes of carbon per hectare (t/ha) in comparison to the median value for tropical rainforests of 190 tonnes t/ha. Camden is also a particularly carbon-heavy borough.

So, there’s a lot of carbon to soak up and trees are just the organisms to do it – making them hugely valuable. According to a UCL press statement about the study, Treenomics estimates that the environmental value of Greater London’s trees is around £133 million a year ($176 million), with their carbon storage capacity worth around £4.8 million a year.

Disney said, “This may equate to less than £20 a year per tree, but the real value may be much higher, given how hard it is to quantify the wider benefits of trees and how long they live. The cost of replacing a large, mature tree is many tens of thousands of pounds, and replacing it with one or more small saplings means you won’t see the equivalent net benefit for many decades after.”

All the more reason to give urban trees the best possible start with enough uncompacted soil and room to grow, ensuring their longevity for years to come.

Source: https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/london-urban-forest-carbon-storage-match-rainforests   

World’s first vertical forest for low-income housing coming to the Netherlands

Stefano Boeri Architetti Eindhoven Trudo Tower facade
© Stefano Boeri Architetti

Stefano Boeri is famous for his vertical forests around the globe, but his latest project will be the first forest tower funded by a social housing project to provide low-income housing. The Trudo Vertical Forest, located in Eindhoven, will showcase how good architecture can tackle both climate change and urban housing issues.

The tower will consist of 19 stories with 125 units – all covered in a luscious vertical forest featuring 125 trees and 5200 plants. The 246-foot tower will be covered in a rich, biodiverse environment to help control urban pollution and provide homes for a variety of animals and insects.

Boeri said, “The high-rise building of Eindhoven confirms that it is possible to combine the great challenges of climate change with those of housing shortages. Urban forestry is not only necessary to improve the environment of the world’s cities but also an opportunity to improve the living conditions of less fortunate city dwellers.”

Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Project Director of Stefano Boeri Architetti, said, “The Trudo Vertical Forest sets new living standards. Each apartment will have a surface area of under 50 square meters and the exclusive benefit of 1 tree, 20 shrubs and over 4 square meters of terrace. Thanks to the use of prefabrication, the rationalization of technical solutions for the facade, and the consequent optimization of resources, this will be the first Vertical Forest prototype destined for social housing.”

Source: https://inhabitat.com/the-worlds-first-vertical-forest-for-low-income-housing-is-coming-to-the-netherlands/

Nathaniel Hardy, Advisory Consultant, USA West Coast

nathaniel hardy profile picture

With expertise in soils, horticulture, and organic waste recycling, Citygreen consultant, Nathaniel Hardy, offers a rare and comprehensive blend of experience. As a Soil Scientist and Horticultural Scientist, Nathaniel completed a Bachelor of Science (Majoring in Horticulture and Soil Science) with first class honours, followed by a Masters of Business Administration through the Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

Out in the field, he has succeeded in a variety of advisory roles across numerous industries, including: wholesale ornamental horticulture, the cut flower industry, retail horticulture, soil science consulting, soil manufacturing, and organics recycling.

Today, in his role as Advisory Consultant at Citygreen, Nathaniel leverages his broad expertise and experience to deliver a holistic, educational approach to urban placemaking. Collaborating with a range of stakeholders from Landscape Architects through to Civil Engineers, he promotes a combination of key ingredients for successful urban forests, including: healthy tree stock, nutritious soil, choosing the right trees for the location, and lastly implementing an engineered system that provides trees with adequate space and soil while also managing, utilising, and cleaning urban stormwater. With a broad understanding of both environment and business, Nathaniel balances constraints in both areas to deliver environmentally and commercially viable solutions.

Nathaniel believes in the value of urban greenspace and its benefits, including shading, urban food production, water treatment, and community wellbeing, and is passionate about leveraging innovative engineered systems to achieve these benefits in the built environment.

A typical work day includes:

  • Collaborating with Landscape Architects on their urban green space designs to ensure the maximum ROI for the designer’s clients.
  • Providing information to Pavement and Structural Engineers about tree root behavior in order to manage the interaction between pavement and tree root growth.
  • Working with Urban Foresters to develop sustainable tree planting guidelines, tree management plans, and helping to build the urban forest.
  • Travelling to deliver keynote speaker sessions on urban trees, urban soils, and LID WSUD.

To talk to Nathaniel for advice or book him as a speaker, call +1 541 625 3820, email nathaniel.hardy@citygreen.com, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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