Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

A biotope above Manhattan

Green densification, skywards: the firm 3deluxe is exploring possibilities for sustainable urban development. Its design for the new We the Planet House places a biotope above Manhattan – and demonstrates just how immensely cities can benefit from green rooftops.

As spellbinding as New York’s famous skyline is, it is a well-known fact that climate change is turning densely populated metropolitan areas into agonisingly hot ovens. Ideas to transform cities into people-friendly, climate-resilient and, if possible, carbon-neutral spaces are urgently needed. The German design firm 3deluxe strives to deliver precisely these. Based on its “floating campus” model, the team has now designed another, exciting project for We the Planet: a company building that places a natural biotope above Manhattan and brings a whole package of helpful technological solutions into play.

Architecture to combat climate change

As a global platform, the New York-based organization We the Planet seeks to promote anything that helps to ensure a good future for the planet and all its inhabitants. The current design for its new headquarters was presented at the Earth Day Summit 2021 by 3deluxe Creative Director Dieter Brell. The eco-friendly building aligns perfectly with the goals of We the Planet founders Kunal Sood and Laura Muranaka. After all, the dedicated forward-thinkers see architecture as a crucial partner in the fight against climate change, and the project demonstrates ways to improve the climate and CO2 balance in dense urban zones through smart green roofs.

A biotope above Manhattan. Lots of green rooftops: this is how Manhattan could look in the future, the visionaries hope. (Credit: 3deluxe)
Lots of green rooftops: this is how Manhattan could look in the future, the visionaries hope.

A biotope above Manhattan. Environmentally friendly: the “green hill” hill on the new We the Planet headquarters. (Credit: 3deluxe)
Environmentally friendly: the “green hill” on the new We the Planet headquarters.

Extensive planting on previously unused roof areas would make a huge contribution to climate regulation in hot cities. Both 3deluxe and its clients are convinced of this. The energy demand and also the CO2 level could be reduced in this way and air quality significantly improved.

Rooftop gardens for a better quality of life

In addition, the concept aims to create green inner-city spaces in harmony with nature, even where there would otherwise be no room for them between closely positioned walls. Sky-high gardens would promote biodiversity and give city dwellers a better quality of life.

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

The We the Planet House is designed for a brownfield site. Placed on the flat roof of an existing New York building, it densifies the urban space without any additional surface sealing. But instead with a biotope above Manhattan that plants a little bit of nature in the sea of houses that forms the metropolis.

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

The idea behind the building follows the 50:50 principle, which 3deluxe already used in its “floating campus” design. The basic principle: 50 percent of every building project should be reserved for nature. In this case, the lush biotope on the roof occupies the same surface area as the interior space used by humans.

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

The simple building shape is that of a rising hill. Its landscape-based architectural approach makes it possible to locate the usable interior spaces underneath.

Green with smart technology

Generous glazing on the sides not only aims to make the interior spaces more pleasant: it also serves to integrate as much space as possible for smart technologies to generate energy and reduce consumption. For transparent photovoltaics, for instance. Or for eyrise® smart glass, which utilizes the entire spectrum of light through dynamic liquid crystals. And for algae bioreactors, solar film made from recycled food waste, and much more.

Das Biotop über Manhattan wartet auch mit viel moderner Technologie auf. (Bild: 3deluxe)

With this project, the 3deluxe team has set itself the goal of developing a showcase for innovative technologies. The design of the We the Planet House aims to demonstrate solutions that can make a major contribution to the carbon-neutral city of the future.

There is nature under the biotope too: an aquarium is going to be built inside the We the Planet House. (Credit: 3deluxe)
There is nature under the biotope too: an aquarium is going to be built inside the We the Planet House.

The green biotope above Manhattan will become a semi-public space that incorporates its surroundings. People from the neighbourhood will be able to use the rooftop garden for urban gardening and beekeeping. In return, the neighbours will take care of the maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

Socially interactive project

The rooftop will be a place for school and preschool children to experience and learn about nature. What’s more, the biotope will provide space for cultural events, readings and lectures. These can take place in the open air, in a climate-friendly way and – in the event of future pandemics – safely.

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

The advantages of this green zone for healthier city life are obvious. The biotope stores rainwater and releases moisture into the environment on hot days. And that’s by no means all: the plant oasis can absorb fine dust particles, transform CO2 into oxygen and improve air quality.

Diverse biotope above Manhattan

On top of all this, the rooftop garden insulates the building interior against cold and heat, thus reducing energy consumption. The exciting concept by the 3deluxe team of designers aims to turn the building into a living organism, so to speak, which brings a variety of positive effects to its entire surroundings.

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

Ein Biotop über Manhattan (Bild: 3deluxe)

Inside the structure, the organization We the Planet will find the ideal conditions for its work: flexible, multifunctional spaces are planned for conferences, workshops and exhibitions on climate and nature protection, social justice, equality, inclusion and more.

New networking centre

The new premises will not only be available to the staff of the organization itself, however: the project envisages a We the Planet Members Club as well.

Im neuen „We the Planet“-House soll viel Raum für Networking geschaffen werden. (Bild: 3deluxe)

With these extraordinary company headquarters, the organization’s international network will benefit from a modern information centre – directly under the sustainable biotope above Manhattan. If the founders have their way, the project will become the home of a smart think tank for innovative ideas to improve global living conditions.

Vielseitiges Angebot: Im Biotop über Manhattan sollen Urban Gardening, Bienenzucht, Events und vieles mehr Platz finden. (Bild: 3deluxe)

3deluxe and We the Planet are not alone with their ideas to make cities more liveable and climate-proof through green buildings. Eco-architects like Vincent Callebaut are designing fascinating visions of the future with lush green towers. Paris is looking to reinvent itself with its mega-project “Mille Arbres”. And public rooftop gardens are increasingly part of the plan for new projects, for example at IKEA’s green and most innovative furniture store to date in Vienna.

One building, much food for thought

The 3deluxe team wants to propel this development forward, as well as delivering additional solutions. This is entirely in sync with its clients, who strive to provide food for thought that benefits all living beings. In every respect. The organization’s new headquarters will show how it’s done. And with much more than just the beautiful biotope above Manhattan.

Text: Elisabeth Schneyder
Images: 3deluxe