is this self-watering greenhouse in urban copenhagen the future of 'living' architecture?

is this self-watering greenhouse in urban copenhagen the future of 'living' architecture?

in a distant future, will there be living biological structures with architectural and inhabitable qualities? ones where our climate and environment can gain from our living conditions? designer simon hjermind jensen of SHJworks hopes so, and offers a vision of this destiny through his project, ‘biotope’. located in copenhagen, the project address two words and their content: bios — meaning ‘life’ in greek, and topos meaning ‘place’. the resulting installation is an experiment to understand how a microcosm of plants and insects can survive when sited at an exposed and harsh urban location.



the 7 meter long, 3 meter tall ‘biotope’ comprises a bowl of concrete, a shell of polycarbonate, soil, plants, insects, bees, and a beehive made of plywood. SHJworks has set the project on a small triangular green space in the middle of an intersection in copenhagen. a train station is nearby, and a three lane road is adjacent — not necessarily an ideal place for floral and fauna habitation, but that’s the idea. will future dwellings and cities support the integration of plants and biological microcosms, and would they thrive?



the sculptural and organic shell of ‘biotope’ mimics the silhouette shape of a primitive organism or bacteria, exploring the idea of human’s relationship to such a form. ‘can feelings of sympathy towards objects or structures establish a stronger and more caring relationship to the place in which we live and inhabit?,’ jensen asks. the shell is made of transparent 4 millimeter thick polycarbonate, which acts as membrane in protecting plants inside from the harsh external conditions. 



surrounding it, the edge of the bowl functions as a bench, and collects rainwater that flows into a basin of soil through small holes in the shell. in turn, the plastic shell and the concrete bowl become a self-watering greenhouse. sixty different seeds have been sown into the soil, which will continue to attract insects as they mature. a beehive is attached on the inside of the shell, allowing bees to have direct access to both the outside and the inside of the ‘biotope’.



the temporary project — sited for a three year period — will receive no maintenance or interference. how the plants and insects — both inside and out — will evolve or thrive is an experiment left to experience over time. 


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