Earthworms are one of nature's hardest working critters; the soft, slimy, invertebrates are subterranean engineers, eating and pooping their way through the soil beneath our feet. Earthworm burrows create pores through which oxygen and water can enter and carbon dioxide can leave the soil, and along the way, they eat up toxic contaminants. Inspired by the altruistic role of the earthworm, South Korean designer Lee Seungsoo devised The Urban Earth Worm skyscraper: a tubular, burrowing structure that will clean up air and soil pollution in cities while helping to feed urban residents.
There’s no denying that Seungsoo’s skyscraper concept mimics the earthworm’s shape as well as its personality. The narrow, cylindrical structure swoops and curves, extending horizontally throughout the city. The top part of the structure features growing tubes filled with soil, and able to support the cultivation of trees and plants. This green area would help to clean the city’s air and also provides crops for the city’s residents, explains Seungsoo.
An energy station would be located inside the section of the “worm” that burrows under the ground. This facility would process the city’s garbage into biomass that can then be utilized to generate electricity, both for the skyscraper’s processes as well as the city grid. The biomass would also be employed to replenish the soil used to grow the trees and crops in upper levels. “Soil is periodically transported down to the energy station and mixed with biomass. It is left to sit for some time and replenish its nutrients,” writes Seungsoo. When that process is complete, it is transported back up to the growing levels, and the soil already up there is moved down to be regenerated.”
Seungsoo’s multi-faceted Urban Earthworm Skyscraper recently won an honorable mention in the eVolo 2013 Skyscraper Competition. Check out the winners and other neat honorable mentions right here on Inhabitat!