We love green roofs (as you might have noticed), but we've been seeing some other, slightly more creative ways to keep a building cool using plants too. Case in point: La Rioja Technology Center in Spain. Designed by Foreign Office Architects, the entire building is a box of glass and steel enveloped in a canopy of climbing plants. Okay, it isn't quite "enveloped" yet, but in just a few years when the vines grow a bit more, they'll create a shaded microclimate around the structure that keeps the heat out and brings a taste of the region's famous vineyards in.
La Rioja Technology Transfer Center is a space dedicated to IT training, development and research. Since the work that’s being done inside the building can become very, well, technical, FOA wanted to maximize exposure to the outside by integrating the structure into the landscape. One of the ways they accomplished this was by entwined climbing plants around a series of cables that have been stretched from the balustrades to a circular section fixed just above the ground all around the building. Within two years the plants will form a lush crosshatch-pattern canopy that provides shade for the interior.
In addition to the green canopy, there are other ways that occupants of the tech center can enjoy nature as well. Terraces on the western side overlook an elm garden and open-air ramps slope gently down towards the trees, creating flow between the architecture and the landscape. On the east side, a cantilever protects the fully-glazed façade from the sun.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
Buildings, especially those like this one that have numerous computers running all day long already expend a ton of electricity – why use more on air conditioning if you can just get a green curtain to cool the place for you? The lush green canopy will not only provide shade and bring down cooling energy and costs, it really elevates the aesthetics of the building too.