Takin’ It to the (Sustainable Urban) Streets
October 2, 2011 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
A concept of sustainable urban public space design, Le Jardin à La Rue (The Street Garden) was conceived by landscape designers Germaine Bourré and Julien Maiella for The International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire, France. The festival, whose theme this year is “Gardens of the future or the art of happy biodiversity,” runs through October 16, 2011.
Lagoons and Aquatic Plants Create Self-Sustaining Eco-System
The designers’ vision for the future includes a lushly planted public space where biodiversity is an integral element: lagoons and aquatic plants along the sidewalks create a self-sustaining ecosystem and control stormwater runoff in the urban space–at the same time creating a protective natural barrier between cars and pedestrians.
Water from streets and gutters would no longer be discharged into the sewers, but screened, filtered, and purified for irrigation.
The massive tree contains photovoltaic panel “leaves” which power the lamps’s LEDs to illuminate the sidewalk and street, but it also collects and stores rainwater for redistribution into the lagoon and to surrounding plants.
Please Walk on the Grass!
In this vision for the future, city dwellers are invited to travel over a grass carpet where the blades tickle their bare feet. For a trample-resistant lawn, below, the designers place grating in turf areas, so pedestrians can walk barefoot on the grass without damaging it. (Personally, it doesn’t look so comfy underfoot to me!)
Green Canopy Provides Natural Temperature Control
Deciduous vines lining green “blinds” offer temperature control, below, by providing shade in the warm summer months, and warmth and light in winter without the plant cover.
Streets Paved with Algae
In lieu of asphalt on the streets, the designers propose the use of Compogreen which “has the same properties as asphalt without the tar. The eco-friendly paving material consists of gravel mixed with binders obtained from algae which is then combined at low temperatures. This results in energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
Decked Out Sidewalks
Sidewalks are designed like decking, constructed from UPM ProFi Deck, a wood and plastic composite material that combines the best characteristics of wood fibers and plastic.
UPM ProFi’s principle ingredients are recycled paper and plastic manufactured from the company’s surplus of self-adhesive label stock. The environmentally-conscious material can be disposed of through incineration or recycled back into the production process.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos via the designers.