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