Mahesh Basantani

William McDonough's Treescraper Tower of Tomorrow

by , 01/02/08

William McDonough, McDonough Braungart, Tower of Tomorrow, green developments, green skyscrapers, green living, sustainable living, green building, sustainable developments, future green, green tower, sustainable tower

What would you call a skyscraper that works like a tree, makes oxygen, distills water, produces energy, and changes with the seasons? Perhaps it’s time to propose a new word: treescraper! Biomimicry – the art of drawing inspiration from nature’s designs – is a strategy often found in green architecture, and here’s a tree-inspired super structure that exemplifies healthy and high-tech design for the future. Designed by William McDonough, the green architect par excellence, who built the first solar-powered house in Ireland in 1977 and was entitled “Hero of the Planet” in 1999 by the Time magazine, this latest proposal for the Tower of tomorrow was commissioned by Fortune Magazine. McDonough’s proposal focuses on the possibilities of today, for a future context, integrating green and arboreally-inspired systems in a super efficient, forward-thinking architectural marvel.


The shape of the building is aerodynamic, reducing the impact of the wind, while its curved form reduces the amount of materials needed for construction, increases structural stability and maximizes enclosed space. Flora abounds, with a green roof and three-story atrium gardens planned on the western side of the building.

As for water, the wastewater from sinks and bathtubs would be recycled and used for irrigation in the building’s gardens; the wastewater from gardens could further be reused in toilets. And if you’re wondering about energy, the southern façade would be made of about 100,000 square feet of photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity. The robust system could provide up to 40 percent of the building’s needs. A combined heat-and-power plant would also be installed, to be fueled by natural gas, which could supply the power that the solar panels cannot.

All products, from building materials to furnishings, could be recycled or returned safely to the earth in true Cradle-to-Cradle fashion. The concept will be publicly unveiled during the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), to be held in Abu Dhabi from January 21-23. WFES 2008 is being held in partnership with Masdar, which is planning to create the world’s first “zero-carbon, zero-waste” city.

Via Fortune
+ William McDonough and Partners

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17 Comments

  1. mamun March 2, 2011 at 1:17 am

    want to work on green design.need your help.

  2. c2cliving January 6, 2009 at 11:44 am

    This is great love the page!!! I have been following the C2C movement and I think William McDonough has some excellent points. there are some of his videos on YouTube.com as well as several other sites you can find if you google his name. Very interesting theory that I think is really going to catch on. I searched “recycled Outdoor Furniture” and found some furniture that is created in a green friendly manner. Also found some other interesting products that I feel are C2C oriented or environmentally friendly.

  3. corrinacorrina corrinacorrina June 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Intrepid Biomimicry, that’s what McDonough is about. He gives the best rap on what a tree is/does that I have ever heard and I’m glad he never stops saying it in a world that’s taken the longest time to get it. Ronald Reagan reportedly said, “A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at?” Which revealed that the failing paradigm was indeed ‘lost in the forest’: as David Whyte’s poem says “If what a tree does is lost you, you are indeed lost..”:

    “What do you do when you’re lost in the forest?
    Stand still.
    The trees are not lost; let them find you..”

    “Imagine this design assignment: Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, accrues solar energy to make fuel, makes complex sugars and food, creates microclimates, changes color with the seasons and self replicates. Why don’t we knock that down and write on it…?”

    I wish William McDonough’s wide awake words were emblazoned on billboards across the nation.

  4. corrinacorrina May 31, 2008 at 11:46 am

    McDonough’s phenomenal rap on what a tree does (in its awesome complexity) speaks more powerfully than anything I ever heard. When our culture gets this piece we will have made the quantum leap from old paradigm:
    “A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at?” (Ronald Regan)
    Bill McDonough: What a tree does: http://beta.flowgram.com/f/p.html#JDLH09YTOIMX7O

  5. doug l April 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    The current urban landscape for all its capability is decaying around us and as energy, environment and employment concerns arise, the genesis of ubran structures that will adress these needs is seen in verticle farming and living spaces such as we see in these designs. My only criticism is that the actual aesthetic design attempts to mimic the hard edged world of machine design, which reflects how far our architects have come from understanding the core of human aesthetics and their origins in our origins, and ignores the constant craving that every human has for a kind of naturally relevant landscape with access to views and water features and a park like setting. These should not be considered a luxury only for the priveledged but a necessary element to maintain a peaceful and sane society. A step in the right direction, never the less.

  6. Michael Maks Davis January 15, 2008 at 9:10 am

    While the design is indeed a step in the right direction, why not take the tree analogy one step further. The heating and cooling of the building could be carried out with a Ground Heat Energy Storage System (thus drawing the analogy for a tree deriving its energy from its roots) using an open loop system or energy piles.

    The building does not produce energy, as is claimed, because it still relies on natural gas. What about using biogas obtained from composting toilets to power the CHP plant. Thus further promoting biomimicry (a tree’s energy comes from the sun, CO2 and composted soil).

    Its a step in the right direction certainly, but should not yet be hailed as the design revolution, as many other towers have been built along similar lines (see Ken Yeang’s designs, for example).

  7. aik January 9, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    There’s a built example of these ideas in Santiago, Chile

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rodchile/212146261/

    Enrique Browne + Borja Huidobro
    Consorcio Building
    1993

  8. CJ January 8, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Monuments to commercialism already infest our lives, these new ideas should not stay ideas, as a person of the latest generation ( the one with no identity ) i should be seeing these buildings being built and not the dreggs of a former centuries way of living.

  9. James January 5, 2008 at 7:29 am

    There should be a lot more vertical living like this in urban areas.

    Shrink cities, not farmland.

  10. John.J.R.P. January 4, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Hi ALL, how do I get in touch with Mr William Mc Donough to tell him I was right too in my new way of living ideas over 30 years ago, on paper, but the only difference is, his has been built, but mine is still on paper, which I can prove was in my thoughts too, plus I could only make a small modle to show people, which I still have, which I would like to build too, with his help and your, Today it’s been proven to me that I do think of things in a different way every day, which may take some people years to think of, yet I have very little knowledge about anything my self. John.J.R.P.

  11. barnaby January 3, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    This design is well contrived and I commend McDonough for his ability to incorporate so many variables into his design.

  12. Scion January 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Yes please build it! It would be a landmark and more will follow. The road to living sustainably.

  13. M3t4x1s January 3, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    ye its a step in the right directind i just hope it catches on it seems when things are to good to be tru…. they always are… =/

  14. johnieboy January 3, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    seems contrived

  15. peter guszti January 3, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Wow, I never knew they made the dubai world tower like that, I actually posted this on my blog, with extra comments, the dubai tower was the most expensive in the world apparently,www.opentopix.com/topic/other/how-to-make-the-dubai-tower

  16. Michael Max January 3, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I love this one; and here is more evidence that the superheroes of our near future will be (and are) the architects and designers who save mankind with their creation of a sustainable built environment.
    Kudos, William McDonough!!

  17. bry January 3, 2008 at 12:41 am

    too bad this linked article is from 2006… still genius though. mr. cradle 2 cradle will lead us all.

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