Epic Urban Treehouse Offers Glimpse Into Future Living
Did you ever dream of living in a treehouse when you were young? Well, the residents of 25 Verde in Turin, Italy are living out the ultimate childhood fantasy in a breathtaking eco-friendly building enclosed within hundreds of trees.
Designed by architect Luciano Pia, the five-story structure is held up by rust-colored metal beams made to look like tree trunks and branches. Potted trees and shrubs of various leaves, colors and flowering are placed on terraces and inside the building to provide shade and reduce noise pollution. There are 150 trees surrounding the building and on the roof and 50 more trees in the courtyard.
As the architect puts it, the building is alive, grows and changes with the seasons. "When all the green is fully blooming it gives the feeling of living in a tree house," he wrote on his website. "You can dream of a house or live in a dream!"
Deciduous varieties of flora were chosen to filter out the hot summer sun and to allow light to break into the units during winter as the leaves fall from the trees. Like an urban forest, the abundant foliage apparently sucks in 200,000 liters of carbon dioxide an hour, a welcome reprieve from the city's notorious pollution.
As noted by a local English publication, Turin is one of the most polluted cities within the European Union due to a number of factors including the high concentration of industrial plants, and how it's situated in the Po Valley, which traps pollution.
The building has several green features. Pia wrote that "one of the aims of the project is the increase of the energetic efficiency, and for this reason several integrated solutions have been adopted: continuous insulation, sun protection, heating and cooling systems which make use of the geothermal energy with heat pumps and recycling of the falling rain to water the green."
There are a total of 63 residential units in the building. The upper floors have views of a park and the Po river, and the top floor apartments are covered by private green roofs. According to the New York Times, two-thirds of the apartments were sold before construction completed in 2012 at €6,500 per square meter.
The northern Italian city was the site of the 2006 winter olympics and is home to carmaker Fiat. The building sits on some of the auto company's former offices at the address Via Gabriele Chiabrera, 25, 10126 Torino, Italy. Check out the Google street view and wander around the area, but first check out these cool images:
A living, growing building. Deciduous foliage blocks the summer sun and lets in light in the winter as the leaves fall. Photo Credit: Beppe Giardino
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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