I’m not sure if this concept will make it into practice, but I like the idea. We have zoos right? Why not create a botanical visitor’s attraction of the tropical rain forest? That’s the concept that Grimshaw Architects created and was rewarded with a 2007 MIPIM/AR Future Project Award in the Sustainability category. Generally, here’s how it works: the enclosed greenhouse will create a tropical zone, a rain forest of sorts, housing both plant and animal life that people can walk through and study. The goal of this man-made rain forest is to mimic the ecosystems from tropical regions of the world. It will have 50 meter high gabion walls around the enclosure that contain composting tubes for heat generation during periods when the passive solar gain isn’t enough to sustain the tropical environment. The idea is to harness the energy created by the decomposing biodegradable matter and re-create a tropical rain forest. Grimshaw hopes that by doing so, the Rainforest will have the potential to grow fruits and vegetables with vastly reduced food miles.
Transporting goods has a carbon cost associated with it, so people want to buy locally. But climate can vary dramatically from one place to another making it tough to get some things locally…that is, unless you can recreate the climate of another area. Think: oranges in Canada. To a small extent, this is what happens with a greenhouse. Here, however, you are creating a greenhouse on a grand scale, one that is carbon neutral and cyclical. It’s a good idea.