What if you could go to a shopping center, and without having to search or try very hard, find every single aspect of it genuinely green and sustainable? This is what Vincent Callebaut strives to achieve with Wooden Orchids, a design proposal for a shopping center in Ruichang, China. Callebaut proposes a series of modular 'orchid boxes' that symbolize balance and sustainability and incorporate a variety of principles and technologies to create an intrinsically holistic and harmless shopping experience.
Vincent Callebaut’s design won an honorable mention in the International Union of Architects’ (UIA) Mount Lu Estate of World Architecture Competition, and for good cause. He is one of the most progressive design thinkers around, constantly pushing the boundaries of technology and passive bioclimatic principles. Wooden Orchids is composed of a series of prefabricated wooden “petals” which are replicated 16 times to create an “orchid box.” This is then repeated six times to create 12 “cells” linked by footbridges. The built environment, which includes shopping, commercial and cultural space, only takes up 50 percent of the entire site. Elsewhere, trees, plants, bicycle and walking paths ensure a pleasant environment. And the shopping isn’t all about brand names. Callebaut proposes to invite organic food shops and other merchants to offer green products that take the guess work out of responsible consumerism.
Among the many attributes that reduce the site’s energy footprint by 70 percent, when compared to a similar project, passive design, smart technology and renewable energy feature prominently. Geothermal heating and cooling substantially reduce energy requirements, as does natural ventilation and natural lighting. Waste, the bane of the Earth, is minimized thanks to various recycling initiatives, including rainwater harvesting and organic waste recycling. The site also preferences pedestrians over cars to ensure low-carbon mobility and the materials used are easily repaired or replaced. We would love to see this design take root. Any takers?