Ecoboulevard grew from an urban design competition in Vallencas, Spain, that aimed to bring both people and greenery to the city’s main street. Ecosistema Urbano Architects brought the community’s goals to life with an innovative installation of “air trees” – lofty nursery-like extensions that meld urban and natural elements. The concept captivated the AR Awards for Emerging Architecture jury, earning the young designers a much-deserved accolade.
Ecoboulevard is shaped around recycled gasworks, allowing the project to grow from repurposed industrial materials. The “air trees” share the service of pavilion, what the designers call a “social revitalizing” space. These centers have, by way of the rooting vegetation, a cooling effect on the urban environment. The open structures can also facilitate social gatherings that require electricity – each “air tree” is equipped with solar photovoltaic to meet on-site energy needs.
The architects have gone beyond the obvious benefits of reusing materials and have considered a growing urban landscape. When the plants are established, the remains of industry can be disassembled and removed, leaving behind a flourishing greenway. This aspect, what the AR Award jury referred to as “the idea that a temporary structure could make a long-term proposition about the way a city streetscape might adapt in the context of ever-hotter urban environments,” is one of the most impressive facets of the project. On its top pick this year, AR calls the Ecoboulevard “an urban intervention as delightful as it is functional.”