Vincent Callebaut Architectures has unveiled a bold vision to transform the heart of Lille, France into a carbon-neutral district capable of producing more energy than it uses. Proposed for the site of the former Lycée Michel Servet, the project is called ‘Archiborescence’ — a combination of the words architecture and arborescence — after its emphasis on biodiversity and solid wood construction. To meet energy self sufficiency and the E4 level of France’s E+C- energy certification for building performance, the futuristic proposal combines low- and high-tech sustainable technologies from the integration of wind chimneys and hemp-based insulation to solar panels and wind turbines.

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Created as part of Vincent Callebaut Architectures’ vision of transforming cities into ecosystems, Archiborescence takes inspiration from ‘Les Anciens Marais Vauban-Esquermes’ [The Ancient Marshes of Vauban-Esquermes], an area of human-made wetlands in northern France with diverse ecosystems and nutrient cycling. As a result, the architects not only imbued their conceptual, mixed-use development with a strong vegetal and aquatic character but also based their proposal on a Cradle-to-Cradle design approach that uses BIM to optimize material lifecycles. 

Related: Vincent Callebaut proposes a green, food-producing footbridge for Paris

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All construction would be built with cross-laminated timber cut and harvested from responsible forests within the Lille region. The mixed-use district would also follow a circular economy and use an energy exchange system to recycle and transfer energy accumulated in offices during the day to residences at night. Rainwater would be captured and reused for toilet flushing and irrigating all green spaces, including over 3,000 square feet of urban rooftop farms.

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“In the heart of Lille, the ‘Archiborescence’ project advocates the reconciliation of the City and the Countryside through timber, elegant, and frugal architecture,” the architects said. “It is now a question of producing as close as possible to the consumers and building with the minimum of resources in order to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

+ Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures