By Melissa Hassett, CNN
(CNN)Paris-based architect Vincent Callebaut wants his buildings to be more than your average tower block. His vision is ambitious: create an energy-saving, carbon-absorbing civilization to fight global warming.
“I want to give hope for a better tomorrow,” he says.
One of his eco-friendly ideas is taking root right now in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. When Tao Zhu Yin Yuan — meaning “The Retreat of Tao Zhu” — is completed in September 2017, the residential complex will be covered in 23,000 trees and shrubs.
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While Callebaut likens the building to an urban forest, its appearance is actually modeled after a strand of DNA — a double helix twisting 90-degrees from base to top.
If all goes to plan, Callebaut says the plants will absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year — the equivalent of around 27 cars.
Taiwan as a whole produced more than 250 million tons of CO2 in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency. Callebaut admits it is a small step, but insists it’s “a big leap [against] global warming.”
“The tower presents a pioneer concept of sustainable residential eco-construction that aims at limiting the ecological footprint of its inhabitants,” Callebaut explains.
The 21-story apartment complex builds in ways for residents to reduce their energy consumption. The design utilizes natural lighting and ventilation. It also includes rainwater recycling and rooftop solar panels.
Callebaut has been behind several notable eco-concepts over the years, from a floating garden designed to clean European rivers to underwater skyscrapers created from ocean garbage. He has planned a 132-story urban farm for New York City, and an ambitious project to transform Paris from the City of Light into a green smart city by 2050.
“Outlandish and futuristic as [they] may seem,” Callebaut says, “the core of all my designs is an attempt to address the real threat that cities pose for humankind and our ecological balance.”
The self-described “archibiotect” discusses his work with CNN Style below.
CNN: What inspired the design of Tao Zhu Yin Yuan?
Callebaut: The project is a perfect fusion of Western and Oriental technology and culture. The tower is directly inspired by the double-helix structure of DNA, the source of life and the symbol of harmony, and reflects upon the idea of ultimate balance.