12 New Extra-Large Sustainable Building Designs

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As the need for cooperative sustainability becomes ever clearer, can we learn from the mistakes of our past and fundamentally change the way we live? Adapting to the new needs of our world requires much more than a sprinkling of eco homes and businesses. These 12 gigantic green building products take on the challenge in a much bigger way – with concepts for new cities, new societies and buildings that solve the world’s most pressing problems, like access to fresh water.

Spain’s Bubble-Shaped Freshwater Factory

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(images via: inhabitat)

They look like nothing so much as a cluster of biospheres stacked on top of each other – or perhaps just soapy bubbles. But the glass domes of this strange tower serve a vital purpose: filtering seawater into freshwater through mangrove trees, which draw in saltwater and perspire freshwater. Once the mangroves release this precious substance, it evaporates and condenses into dew which collects in freshwater tanks.

One & Ortakoy, Istanbul

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(images via: gad architecture)

Just like the beautiful hills they’re set in, the buildings that will make up the “One & Ortakoy” mixed-use complex in Istanbul have curving, organic forms and rolling roofs covered in greenery and flowers. Under construction in the neighborhood of Ortakoy, the project will consist of two buildings with natural stone facades – one a residential complex, the other commercial.

Green-Roofed High School, France

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(images via: world architecture news)

Situated next to a public park, the Marcel Sembat high school in Sotteville-les-Rouen, France will almost disappear into the trees and grass of its surroundings. Additions to the existing structure – which will include a restaurant, student housing, staff housing and workshops – will be topped with a wavy green roof that will offer natural insulation.

Watertower Skyscraper Brings Freshwater to Sudan

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(images via: h3ar)

In the vast desert landscape of Sudan, freshwater can be incredibly difficult to come by – yet deep under the surface is the largest underground lake in the world, which would change residents’ lives dramatically if it were tapped. Polish architecture firm H3AR imagines a solution: buildings inspired by both water towers and the native baobab tree, which would access the water through underground pumps. These towers would contain a water treatment plant, a hospital, a school and a food storage center.

Massive Rain-Catching Skyscraper

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(images via: h3ar)

How could a building capture as much rain as possible? Through a web of gutters covering the entire exterior, which would then direct the water to a processing plant for use in toilets, washing machines, cleaning and plant watering. H3AR combines this ‘skin’ with a huge, bowl-shaped rainwater collector on the roof for maximum rainwater catchment capabilities.

Mixed-Use EcoDistrict in Dijon

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(images via: exp architects)

Imagine living in a diverse neighborhood packed with green features galore, from vertical gardens and green roofs to bicycle paths and eco-friendly playgrounds – all adjacent to the city center. Such ‘ecodistricts’ are in planning around the world, including this concept for Dijon, France by EXP Architects in cooperation with Studiomustard Architecture, Sempervirens Landscape Designers and Even Conseil. The design will serve as a model for similar future developments in the same city.

De-Centralized Sustainable Society

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(images via: ctrlz architectures)

It’s not just a building, or even just a city – but rather, a re-imagining of an entire society. That’s what CTRLZ architectures are doing with their new concept, stating ““We believe that architecture is not anymore about form and/or/…function, but that it is about relations. The development of network systems shows us that the power resides in links and connections.” Commerce, food production, ornamental gardens, housing, social public spaces and energy collection come together in a way that emphasizes cooperation between inhabitants.

Subterranean Greenbelt Hotel

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(images via: reardon smith)

The subterranean design of Hersham Golf Club in Surrey by ReardonSmith Architects contains five-star lodging as well as a spa and golf facilities, while still meeting urban growth restrictions – the site is contained within London’s green belt, a ring of countryside that aims to prevent urban sprawl. The design also addresses lowering the impact of traffic flow and positions above-ground buildings in existing woodland so that nearby local residents maintain an unobstructed view of untouched landscape.

Beijing’s ‘Creative Zone’ Greenbelt

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(images via: arch daily)

If there’s any city in the world that desperately needs a greenbelt to provide residents with natural space and prevents further sprawl, it’s likely Beijing. This rapidly growing city – plagued by air pollution problems – could get a greenbelt of its own that would allow interaction with nature while maintaining proximity to local conveniences like shops, restaurants and public transportation. UNStudio won a competition to create this “creative zone”, which would become a showcase of experimental architecture.

Masdar Sustainable City

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(images via: lava)

Could Masdar City be a vision of the future, a modern metropolis where sustainability is built into every sidewalk, store and streetlamp? Designed by LAVA and located in Abu Dhabi, Masdar City is a planned community built to be zero-waste and zero-carbon.  With housing, commerce and recreation all situated around a vast plaza, this concept aims to be a model of sustainability for the rest of the world.

Dubai’s Solar-Powered Vertical Village

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(images via: graft lab)

What does Dubai have in abundance, aside from sand and mind-boggling creativity? Sun, of course -–and Graft Lab’s Vertical Village takes advantage of that plentiful resource with a surface that is angled specifically with solar energy collection in mind. The cluster of mixed-use buildings includes solar collectors on the south end that automatically pivot for maximum exposure.

Giant Energy-Generating Waterfall for Rio Olympics

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(images via: inhabitat)

It looks unreal: an enormous, towering waterfall seemingly originating from the sky. But the Solar City Tower, designed by RAFAA Architecture & Design for the 2016 Rio Olympics, is actually a building that uses solar energy to generate power during the day, and a pumped water storage system to create power after the sun goes down. The tower could provide plenty of electricity for the Olympic Games and for the city, with the waterfall – “a symbol for the forces of nature” –  appearing only for special occasions.

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