There have been many examples of complex, large scale structures envisaged as "autonomous ecological machines". This tower (la tour vivante means "the living tower" in French) in Rennes is no exception to this concept. The architects of atelier SOA, however, took this approach a bit further in the case of the design of the complex consisting of apartments, offices, shopping area and a library. They added about 7000 square metres of greenhouses in the building. Firstly, these greenhouses form the link between the different functions, like a surprisingly lush corridor. At the same time, the greenhouses provide with a large amount of fruit and vegetables - produced within the framework of an program of rainwater and waste recycling. But one shouldn't forget that the greenhouses, in combination with thick and heavy concrete elements, are important for the climate control of the 30-story building. The concrete can absorb solar warmth, regulate thermal stability, and the warmth is spread throughout the building by the chimney-effect of the greenhouses.
In the southern facade, solar panels are integrated, which, together with the two wind turbines on top of the building, provide for large portions of the energy requirements of the building. And did I forget to tell about the smart water-seperations and recycling systems?
So basically, almost everything one could possibly think of as far as "green" design solutions is taken care of in this building. But the architects didn't forget something else, which is just as important: the building looks attractive enough to be an inspirational landmark for many, as if it were to show that ecologically sound design can be sexy, too!