The “City of Light” will be getting a whole lot greener — a thousand trees greener, in fact. Grab your passport, because a floating forest in Paris will soon hover over a highway at the edge of the 17th arrondissement. What may sound like something out of a Surrealist painting is actually an eco-friendly multi-use structure. Described by the architects as a "floating village in the middle of a forest," the building will contain a tree-lined pedestrian walkway, offices, cafes and other businesses, and will be crowned with small houses and apartments amidst idilic gardens.
The project “Mille Arbres,” designed by Manal Rachdi of Paris-based Oxo Architects and Tokyo-based Sou Fujimoto Architects, won the recent Réinventer Paris (Reinventing Paris) competition and it is slated for completion by 2021-2022. The architects have partnered before on environmentally friendly residential designs for other parts of France and are passionate about pioneering greener ways to live in cities. European cities historically have been built more densely, leaving little room for greenery, and it is proving to be a bit of an issue. Rachdi told FastCoExist reports, “As you may know, Paris is a stone city — there's not a lot of trees, not a lot of vegetation. We wanted to create this living space surrounded by nature ... connected to the city, but surrounded by nature."
The structure will take over an empty parking lot and span the “ring road” that encircles the center of the city — separating it from the suburbs. The Boulevard Périphérique is one of the busiest highways in Europe with issues of noise and pollution. Against the beauty of Paris, the road can be a bit of an eyesore, and creates a barrier between the city and its surroundings. Rachdi explained to FastCoExist, "One of the challenges is to erase the gap created by this highway, and the first step is creating this park, with its trees. Everyone can go up and pass the highway through the park."
Just as the building bridges the two different areas, the houses will perfectly bridge life in both the city and country. They will have full-service amenities as well as a view of the Eiffel Tower as it sparkles over the city, but they will also be surrounded by trees. Studies show that having a view of greenery can not only make people feel healthier, but leads to many concrete health benefits including lowering risk of heart disease, and improving one's mental health. Having a view of nature can lower stress and may even improve children’s performance in school. While trees are certainly good for people, tree-covered eco-friendly buildings are also an important weapon in fighting global warming.
Rachdi enumerated the benefits of plant-covered architecture to FastCoExist, "We know now by experiments that normal rooftops can really lead to a leak of energy. But when we have rooftops planted with greenery or trees, we save energy. It's becoming a trend now because it's another way to consume less energy and protect buildings." The building will leave a lower than normal carbon footprint, running on a blend of solar, wind, and geothermal energy. FastCoExist reports that all parts of the building will be joined by an “energy loop,” meaning that if one part creates excess energy it may be used by another, with no power going to waste. The architects envision all parts of the structure working in harmony like its very own ecosystem.
To see more of the proposed floating village check out this video by Oxo Architects: