Site icon KIM MIN JAE

‘the Solar Root’ Experimental public sustainability Project, [Selected for exhibition, April-Oct, 2023]

Site Analysis

The given site boundary is located in Spinelli Park within the Green Corridor. This place has an interesting history. After World War II, it consisted of green areas until the early 1990s, and as East and West Germany were reunified, this area was used as a site for military facilities by the US military. And again in 2011, when the US troops withdrew from the area, the city is trying to restore the lost green space. A large urban population was concentrated around this site, resulting in a relative lack of public green space of the city center and recreational space. Spinelli Park also will have function to control surrounding cities’ micro-climate. Regarding this competition project, the proposed project area is located in the center of Spinelli Park, so-called “Climate Park”. This new local recreation area for Mannheim is climatologically important fresh area for the surrounding city climate. Also, this park offers new space for bio-diversity and people’s relaxation and recreation activities. Moreover, the city and the citizens admire creatively sustainable urban life by holding garden shows and several urban green experimentation ongoingly.

Co-prosperity

Trees have naturally formed a familiar relationship throughout human history. Huge trees cast their lush leaves, and dozens of people could live there. Instead of sheltering from strong winds and blizzards and blocking strong sunlight, the trees provided a suitable home for humans. The tree also served as a safe house in the event of attacks by wild beasts. Humans who can easily climb trees have the opportunity to climb up and down trees to avoid wild beasts and to hunt birds and animals that breed on trees. Human also co-existed and did co-prosperity by helping trees reproduce and protecting damaged trees. In modern times, the importance of trees is directly related to the survival of mankind. Dangerous climate change is taking place all over the world as various pollution and carbon dioxide emissions caused by the development of industrial civilization are rapidly increasing. The number of trees in the world are rapidly declining due to indiscriminate logging at a time when the carbon dioxide they absorb and the oxygen they release are valuable. Also among the densely lined buildings of big cities, the number of trees are shrinking more and more. Modern people miss the effect of the shade of a green tree, where we were emotionally comforted.

Protection with design strategy

In this proposed design, there was a study on how to protect endangered species tree while still exposing them to nature and human. That’s why we designed a transparent glass wall around the endangered species tree. This solution give opportunities to protect the tree by humans’ maintenance and protection and still harmonize with nature. The protective wall’s design is inspired by the roots and trunks of trees. In addition, all structures are made of wood materials where possible in pursuit of more eco-friendly design.

Ginkgo as endangered species

As an endangered species in Europe, ginkgo was selected. The Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species in the world. It’s the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees that date back to before dinosaurs creatures that lived between 245 and 66 million years ago. It’s so ancient, the species is known as a ‘living fossil’. However, the tree disappeared 2.5 million years ago in Europe and 7 million years ago in North America. After that, the ginkgo tree survived only in China, Korea and Japan. After a long time in Europe, a small number of ginkgo trees were artificially imported and planted from Asia. Ginkgo biloba is unique in its reproduction process. Ordinary fruits make sweet and fragrant flesh and seeds inside, whereas ginkgo biloba, on the other hand, made delicious seeds inside the bitter and stinky flesh. Moreover, it’s made with a skin-allergenic substance that animals don’t like. Therefore, humans are the only ones who eat ginkgo fruit and spread the seeds. As a result, It is no longer found in uninhabited places. Besides its biological peculiarities,Ginkgo has been a source of inspiration for artists and the general public. For example, in his poem ‘Ginkgo Biloba’, Goethe praised the ginkgo leaf with a split in the middle as a symbol of harmonious union between East and West, and furthermore, as a symbol of lively and peaceful integration of all opposing values and aspects. Also, thanks to the beautifully bright yellow color, the beautiful appearance attract viewers from a distance.

Healing space

Ancient people often deified and worshiped trees, and modern people find comfort around trees, both mentally and physically. Stressed people in modern times recover sometimes through meditation around a tree or recover their physical energy through physical training around trees. Based on these common activities, a ‘healing floor space’ was created through connection with the protective wall. Therefore, visitors are able to observe the divine tree and meditate in the surroundings.

Solar Energy Storage

The protective wall that protects the ginkgo tree and the associated floor as a healing space can store solar energy with the assitance of advanced science and technology. All walls and floor panels are made of transparent solar PV glass. During the daytime, solar energy is all the time converted into electrical energy and stored in the underground plant room. It will produce about 1349.04 MWh of electrical energy per year.

PV glass panel color scheme

While designing the layout of the PV glass panel, I was thinking about how to blend in with the surrounding nature naturally. As a result, transparency was emphasized on the elevation to strengthen the visual connection with the ginkgo tree inside, and a design that gradually changed from light green to dark green was considered on the floor panel to create a natural blending with the surrounding nature.

Technical Details

A wooden frame and wooden columns were devised as a structure supporting the glass façade. This not only meets the eco-friendly design strategy, but also has the effect of harmonizing with nature in terms of visual aspect. Also, ‘A’-shaped column is created to minimize the thickness of the wooden column for an effective display of ginkgo trees. In addition, structural stability was pursued by connecting stainless steel tie strings between frames, and by not building a roof, the site is still adapted to the natural climate. Furthermore, overall shape of facade wall is cone by tilting slightly, so that the natural wind flow will not be affected by this cone geometry. For maintenance of the ground floor, a part of the glass facade panel was removed and a low-height rail-type wooden door was installed instead to allow access. For maintenance of the underground plant room, staffs are able to access by ladder via the floor access hatch. The glass panels of the façade are designed to be curved rather than flat, so that the panel itself functions as a structure to a certain extent. This is in line with the overall design inspired by the tree trunk. For the floor panel, the floor panel support was densely arranged in consideration of the visitors’ recreation and meditation activities. Finally, the electric cables connected to each PV glass are connected to the underground plant equipment through the collective cable in the mullion cap. Thus, all electric cables are designed to be visually unexposed as much as possible.

Environmental impact summary

The environmental impact of this project is divided into three categories. These are cultural impacts, biological impacts, and climatic impacts. As a cultural impact, by displaying a tree as a symbol, the humanistic meanings and roles are reminding on mankind, who have lived together with trees historically. There have been the role of shelter and gathering place, the role of artistic inspiration, the role of mental stability. And even sometimes the deified trees used to influence the human culture in some historical period. As a biological impact, by protecting endangered trees, the design serves to protect the ginkgo tree and spread it back to Europe. Furthermore, the scope can be extended to the protection of other endangered species. As for the climatic impact, the method of storing solar energy obtained through PV glass present the possibility of integrating with beautiful design. And when these modules are applied to more trees, the annual electrical energy can be increased exponentially, contributing to the reduction of fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Design by KIM MIN JAE

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