Thanks to theological scholarship (or in my case, thanks to MGM and Charlton Heston) everyone knows how Moses split the Red Sea. Architects have now imitated that miracle with a sunken eco-bridge that allows safe pedestrian passage through far less-daunting waters. Four hundred years ago, a network of fortresses was built across the Netherlands to protect against Spanish and French invaders.
Their moats were interlinked, creating a water-based defense known as a “waterline” that could be manipulated to create islands of safety during turmoil. The moat surrounding 17th Century Fort de Roovere was the simplest of safeguards: a calm and controlled channel too deep to wade across, yet too shallow for arms-laden boats.
A recent reconstruction of the fortress and its regional waterline required new access routes for workers and materials, so last year this noble defense was finally breached. Read on for three more inspiring and miraculous eco-design ideas worth spreading.
More on the Moses Bridge moat: An overland structure would impose on the pastoral landscape. So designers RO&AD Architecten designed an “invisible” bridge to link the refurbished fort to neighboring hiking and cycling trails. Made of certified woods and waterproofed with EPDM foil (a synthetic rubberized sheeting), the Moses Bridge is submerged into the moat and surrounding battlements. Fully absorbed into its landscape, it allows the current to flow past. The bridge only appears as you come close, where it invites you to walk across the waters by pedal-power.
Strictly speaking, these projects aren’t true follies as they have real functionality. But their playfulness and simplicity have powerful happy-face appeal.
2. Organic flying shapes: The same architects also designed a clever security training center for Qatar Airways cabin crew in Doha. Playing with icons of Arab dunes and airplane wings, they formed a vaulted wooden shell into an organic flying shape.
The large roof area is covered with a field of desert flora, its curves enhance the natural ventilation of spaces beneath. Offices and classrooms are built below the roof garden using traditional adobe techniques.
The center’s requirements are met with minimal energy consumption, and the green rooftop celebrates Doha’s biodiversity.
It’s smarty-pants design, contextually relevant, pragmatic in function, and beautiful.
3. For a competition in Egypt, RO&AD Architecten looked to the night skies. They chose the constellation Osiris as catalyst for design of a new national museum, massing the building to align with the stars’ astronomical geometry.
This museum, constructed mostly from materials sourced on site, is further rooted to its location by its sensitive homage to an important aspect of Egyptian mythology.
In an urban development area near Deinze, Belgium, RO&AD Architecten were commissioned to place a house on a generous plot framed by bushes and covered in mature plantings.
Working in concert with the established landscape, their solution was to create an “inhabitable bush”: an insulated glass box with a greenhouse as its roof.
This home, like its gardens, responds to the changing seasons: open to warming sunlight in winter, and cloaked in greenery to keep out summer heat. Economical construction to boot!
No one’s sure who coined the term “God is in the details,” but that truism is demonstrated by these environmentally excellent designs. Each shows respect to the planet and its inhabitants, and sustains the human right to aspire, to be happy. No Oscar winners in this cool quartet; which is alright by me, I like indie films better. That said: Mr. de Mille (and Green Prophet readers), these finely rendered projects are ready for their close up.
Images by RO&AD Architecten