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Vincent Callebaut’s 2050 Vision of Paris as a “Smart City” with 8 Plus-Energy Towers
Addressing Paris’ housing and density issues, French firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures has developed a proposal for multiple high-rise buildings with positive energy output (BEPOS). Comprised of eight multi-use structures inhabiting various locations within Paris, the plan strives to address major sustainability problems affecting each district, while providing key functions for the city.
Commissioned in wake of the Climate Energy Plan of Paris, the aptly named Smart City aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In order to achieve long-term energy goals, the high-rises integrate several energy-production techniques to ensure their constant adherence to sustainable efforts, as well as encourage inhabitants to adopt eco-friendly standards of living in their daily lives. Although the techniques employed are unique to each building, the overall goals of the Smart City are cohesive: respect the rich history of Paris while embracing its potential to cultivate a healthier future by decreasing its environmental impacts.
Each of the tower systems fits within the existing framework of the city, and often directly on top of it, such as the “Mountain Tower” transferring its structural loads through unused ducts and chimneys. The forms of these high-rises are informed by nature, while within their walls, natural processes (passive heating and cooling, oxygenation, rainwater retention) are utilized wherever possible to create self-sustaining units. Additionally, the insertion of green spaces, namely community and suspended gardens, bring the purifying effects of rural life into the city and encourage residents to involve themselves in cultivating a sustainable lifestyle.
In addition to passive and natural energy-conserving strategies, the Smart City also employs innovative techniques. The skins of the towers, for example, respond to sunlight in ways that positively impact the thermal load. The skin of the “Mangrove Towers” is composed of individual cells which form a photo-sensitive electrochemical shell, utilizing the sunlight that hits it to generate electricity for the building. Similarly, the “Photosynthesis Towers” employ an insulating bio-façade, which generates its own usable biofuel. Other technology that supports Smart City’s self-sufficiency is the “phylolight,” a hybridized turbine-lamp system which supplies both lighting and the energy needed to produce it.
Consistently throughout the Smart City plan, the towers’ programs are mixed-used, combining residential, business, and commercial functions, which are divided internally. This combats the need for extensive transportation and cuts the city’s emissions from fuel. The Smart City reinforces the idea that cities can continue to grow while maintaining their character and contributing to a healthier future.