Design all'aperto

Eschewing the traditional exhibitor/product approach, Bologna Fiere held a landscape show with a difference - one showcasing just four projects.

Detail from the Hotel In&Out display.
Detail from the Hotel In&Out display.

Eschewing the traditional exhibitor/product approach, Bologna Fiere held a landscape show with a difference - one showcasing just four projects.

Nobody needs an excuse to visit a country as beautiful as Italy, but if they did then the recent Progetti&Paesaggi [Projects and Landscape] show would be a good one - at least for an outdoor design professional.

Taking place in Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Romagna region, the show took an unusual approach to landscape architecture, presenting products via projects rather than through the usual exhibitor/product approach, with the idea being to demonstrate how products and services work in relation to one another, rather than as separate elements.

"Progetti e Paesaggi is a new format. It does not present products in booths, but has product placement - four designers telling stories about projects so the product is presented in real scale," said Jacopo Papp, press consultant for Bologna Fiere, organiser of the show.

The exhibition, which took place alongside Design on Board, a show specialising in interior products for boats, and SaieSpring, a fair specialised in doors and windows, showcased four projects: Hotel - In&Out by architect and designer Giulio Cappellini; The Vegetable Garden City: Rural Landscapes by Cibic Workshop; The Vertical Forest by Boeri Studio; and Places and Non-places by Topotek1.

The highlight of the show, or at least the project that appeared to attract the most attention, was The Vertical Forest by Boeri Studio.

The project presents a new prototype for a high-rise building, one that appears almost covered in greenery due to the inclusion of multiple trees or plants protruding from its balconies.

The first realisation of the project will be in Milan. Composed of two towers of 110m2 and 76m2, it will contain around 1,000 trees as well as numerous shrubs and plants, and will have approximately 1.300m2 of green walls.

The advantage of the model is that it helps to temper the microclimate, filter fine dust, increase humidity, protect against the sun, and reduce noise pollution, according to the designers.

Hotel In&Out, another of thefour projects displayed in the Progetti&Paesaggi area, drew attention to the blurring of lines between the interior and exterior space of hotels though the use of greenery, water and light.

Hotels are no longer simply a place for hospitality, but also a destination, said architect Capellini in a presentation.

"It is important to try to 'contextualise' the hotel in its city and to improve its relationship with the outside world," he said. "To achieve this, I imagine a structure where the difference between inside and outside is almost imperceptible, where one is the natural continuation of the other.

City of Gardens, another of the projects, showcased a sustainable village consisting of a 900m2 area, which included vegetable gardens as well as a live and workspace.

Places and non-places, meanwhile, experimented with visitors' perceptions of space by playing with the effect of light on a dark space.

The unusual approach appeared to work with more than 20,000 visitors attending the show, the inaugural edition of the event, according to the organisers.

Commenting on the show, Wendy Andringa, associate of US landscape architecture firm Dirtworks, said: "I found Progetti e Paesaggi to be very innovative in its approach to integrate design ideas and material products.

Conceptualising of the built environment is not something that you normally expect to see at a trade show, and that is how Progetti e Paesaggi distinguished itself."

"The four installations and the informal panel discussions took the event out of the trade show realm and into the design exhibition realm. This approach will continue to attract designers that want to see more than material products in booths.

On the back of the positive response to the inaugural event, a second edition of the show is scheduled to take place in Spring 2009


IL Bosco Verticale

Francisca Insulza of Boeri Studio explains the thinking behind the Vertical Forest project.

What inspired the project?

For decades high-rise buildings have been designed with little attention to the theme of saving energy.

Only in recent years has the tendency to squander energy been countervailed by the introduction in pilot projects of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, systems of accumulation of alternative energy, through advances in the sun, wind and geothermal technologies.

Yet most of the time, the introduction of alternative energetic systems has not been enough to compensate for the enormous amount of waste of electric energy that tall buildings, in particular those covered with continuous glass facades, produce.

The idea to design and realise a high-rise model completely surrounded on all its vertical sides by trees of different sizes and species generated from this concern.

What are the benefits of the Bosco Verticale model?

By guaranteeing private and public green spaces of considerable size the typology of the Vertical Forest if localised near to infrastructure and public transport nodes, can contribute to the reduction of commuter generated traffic and would favour the return of people to living in the city centre.

The continuity of the green perimeter also helps in controlling of thermal variations between interior and exterior and offers large surfaces for the absorption of dust particles.

How would the growth of roots be dealt with?

Root growth is controlled with two interrelated techniques. First, large trees are grown in nurseries for at least two years in vases with space restrictions similar to those that they will have within the terraces of the Bosco Verticale. Second, the interior of the vases into which the trees are transplanted after this period is covered with a membrane permeable to air.

Because of the resistance of roots to grow towards air, it is in fact the roots themselves that constrain their growth to the shape of the planter thus eluding the possibility of the tree breaking the planter and growing out of place.

How would it work in the Middle East climate?

A careful study of the local characteristics - climate, vegetation, but also cultural - must be realised so as to be able to determine the full potential of a locally generated model.

Plants are of local provenance; however they are carefully selected different with at least two important criteria.

First, selected plants are not "delicate" species; that is to say that although the management and maintenance of the green should be centralised and therefore guaranteed, plants should be able to subsist with simple care. Second, plants are chosen with regards to their location on the tower and the façade's relation to the sun.

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