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Suspended Greens in Urban Spaces

Posted By Jennifer Buonantony On January 16, 2008 @ 9:50 pm In Architecture / Interior Design,G Living | No Comments

It’s true what they say about the grass being greener. Or in this case, the moss.

For those of us living in an urban space, the sight of plants can be rare. Perhaps that’s what prompted the 2007 Awards for Emerging Architecture, for which architect Taketo Shimohigoshi was one of three prize winners. Recognized for his innovative thinking and ability to find “green space” among the crowded skylines of an over-populated and ever-expanding city, Shimohigoshi came up with moss-covered building-to-building beams designed for structures in Tokyo.

It’s one thing for buildings to incorporate plants and flowers near their entryways or in the lobby, but few can boast skylines with vegetation in mid-air, where (as the designer says) “nature is not in its natural place.”

It terms of usefulness, the beams also provide shade to outdoor rooftop spaces, which could be appreciated on a hot summer day if there’s an outdoor patio or pathway between buildings. However, if you’re the sort who exits your office building and looks up for a little sunlight, all you’ll see are slick steel beams instead of the blue sky (or the greenery you’d see from an aerial view). Not exactly an upgrade.

And what about practicality? The beams are covered with moss. And although some species are able to adapt somewhat, all moss requires low light and dampness. While some cities average more rainfall and overcast days than others, no matter where you are, the moss will be sitting on beams in direct sunlight with no definitive irrigation or maintenance.

However, since it’s widely believed that moss helps in nature’s air-cleaning process, Shimohighoshi’s suspended gardens could result in an overall reduction in a city’s air pollution. Which makes the possibilities endless. And if moss beams = cleaner air quality, it will not be long before cities worldwide find inspiration from Shimohighoshi’s vision.

Maybe the grass isn’t greener than the moss after all.

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