Taiwan: Vincent Callebaut Architectures introduces Agora Garden residential tower

Agora Garden, an inhabited and cultivated vertical garden in the Xinyin District of Taipei, is currently under construction. A competition for the project was won by Vincent Callebaut Architectures in 2010 with a design inspired by two encircling hands clasped together and the helical structure of DNA. Once completed the 42,335 sq m luxury residential building will incorporate nanotechnologies and vertical gardening into the residents’ everyday life to make this one of the most eco-friendly structures in the city.

One of the more visually arresting aspects of this ambitious project is the 90 degree twist of the tower, the sinuosity of which, the practice explains, ‘corresponds to the universal musical symbol of harmonic revealing the notion of ultimate balance praised by the project’. The result is such that the shape of the structure morphs depending on where the onlooker is standing, for example its east/west elevations draw a rhomboidal pyramid whereas the north/south elevation is a reverse pyramid.

Vincent Callebaut Architectures says of the design: “Neither single tower, nor twin towers, the project arises towards the sky with two helicoidal towers gathering themselves around a central core. This architectural party offers a hyper-compacted core and a maximal flexibility of the housing storeys (with the possibility to unify two apartment units in one without any footbridge). It brings a multiplication of view angles towards the urban landscape and a hyper-abundance of suspended gardens.”

These suspended gardens not only bring an aesthetic appeal to the Agora Garden project but will provide the building’s residents with orchards, organic vegetable gardens, aromatic gardens and medicinal plants. The vertically-wide planted balconies will be accessible for all residents and will also include rain water tanks for the irrigation of the suspended gardens, nests for birdlife, composting facilities for converting waste into fertilizer and garden furniture for their own enjoyment. The planting beds are to be covered by a layer of white natural stone to protect the foliage from excess heat.

To enter the Agora Garden property, users will pass through a cluster of mature trees and cross a mineral moat which will be installed to enhance the privacy of residents. In the Conceptual Design Proposal, the architects explain: “In the heart of the vegetable lung, the pedestrian square opens itself on a mineral and aquatic glade.” Plants that cascade into the lower basements are provided with sunlight which penetrates through a circular light well that also illuminates the car parks, swimming pool and fitness centre.

The location of these luxury ‘sky houses’ means that residents will have exquisite views of the C. Y. Lee & Partners and Thornton Tomasetti-designed 101 Taipei tower and the city’s Central Business District. Once the project is completed in 2016, the residential units on offer will give much flexibility to potential inhabitants. The fixed central core separates the vertical circulations with the towers rotated storey by storey at 4.5 degrees. Each 540 sq m apartment is entirely free of columns as the levels are connected at both ends by two spiralling mega-columns coated in green walls, ensuring optimum living conditions for residents.

Source: World Architecture News

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