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Living buildings

A friend sent me this link, to an article about a "living building" in Jerusalem.

The building is the Gutman Visitation Center, and – among other features – is designed to create habitat for non-humans.

From the Jerusalem Post, more details:

…Not only was it constructed with recycled materials for the most part, it is actually designed not to disrupt the natural flow of life at the site. There are holes in the stone walls, which are made from extra stone from a nearby building site, so animals and birds can make burrows. There's even a family of rare porcupines living behind the air conditioning vent, SPNI's Amir Balaban said on a tour of the building.

The building also has a "living" roof.

"The roof is a 'living roof,' and not a 'green roof.' What is a green roof? It is a roof of plants that require watering. A living roof is comprised of native Middle Eastern flora which bloom according to the seasons and do not require any watering," Balaban enthused.

Okay, so it's a xeriscaped green roof. But a very lush-looking one. Maybe the green roof makers in the States could learn some things from this project; even the supposedly hardy sedums and native grasses grown on some roofs don't do very well without irrigation! Granted, the struggling green roofs I'm familiar with were up quite a bit higher, and therefore much more exposed to sun and wind, and the surfaces of the Gutman Center don't appear to have that height disadvantage.

One of my favorite aspects of this project is that there is also a birdwatching hide, thanks to the nearby presence of the SPNI's (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) bird research center.

In looks, the building reminds me a lot of many of Hundertwasser's creations, with trees and a variety of other plants incorporated throughout the structure, not just as a (more or less low and flat) green roof or green screens.

For further information on living buildings, see the International Living Building Institute, which has downloadable standards, and the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, which got the ILBI started.

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