The Solar Root by KIM MIN JAE Architects
The given site boundary is located in Spinelli Park within the Green Corridor. 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.
Protection with design strategy
We designed a transparent glass wall around the endangered species tree still exposing them to nature and human. 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.
Image © KIM MIN JAE Architects
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 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 pro-cess. 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 sub-stance 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.
Image © KIM MIN JAE Architects
Stressed people in modern times recover sometimes through meditation around a tree or recov-er 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 assistance of advanced science and technology. All walls and floor panels are made of trans-parent 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, how to blend the overall design in with the surrounding nature was an important consideration. 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.
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 as-pect. In addition, structural stability was pursued by connecting stainless steel tie strings be-tween 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.
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. Source and images Courtesy of KIM MIN JAE Architects.