All images courtesy of AZPML
London-based practice AZPML has shared images of its latest competition entry, an integrated ecosystem designed to artificially emulate natural environments within two large greenhouses. Known as the ‘Danakil Klimazonenwelt’, the proposed scheme seeks to offer visitors a comprehensive climatic tour that will translate into a wide variety of memorable architectural experiences. The project recreates two settings — desert and jungle — that retain an important interdependence. It is hoped that those who visit these spaces will come to understand this complex interrelationship as they follow an itinerary which serves as a loop between contrasting conditions.
Desert and jungle environments can be explored separately, but they can also be experienced one after the other. As this tour has two levels, visitors will also have to ascend and descend: a steady slope in the desert, and a gentle floating ramp among the trees in the jungle. Conceptually, the jungle system represents density, while the desert is a hazy, endless horizontal plane where the boundary between earth and sky is blurred.
The tropical rainforest consists of clusters of palms that will eventually tower to the greenhouse ceiling. It also incorporates simple devices that will allow plants to grow at different heights. Vegetation will hang under the ramp, climb mesh-covered cylinders, and colonize one side of the space as a vertical garden. The building’s structure is both manifested and concealed behind the greenery, on the walls and roof.
In the desert, a translucent suspended ceiling will diffuse light to create the illusion of a bright sky, consequently hiding all structural elements and eliminating shadows. The outer edges of the greenhouse are concealed behind huge panels with reflective membranes that replicate the landscape, recreating its vastness and simulating a distant horizon. the entire floor ascends in a spiral near the center of the space. Visitors move along the perimeter, where the slope is barely perceptible, and see themselves reflected alongside rocks, outcrops and plants typical of arid ecosystems.
The result is an integrated installation, where the architecture is not just an envelope and the exhibition is not just its contents. The design intends to form a destination where the presence of scenography is limited to specific, obvious elements, making no attempt to camouflage architectural or technical components, and where plants and animals can have a modest presence in suitable conditions without the need to literally replicate their habitats.