Treescrapers are arrant bullshit


#1

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#2

Like Vermont’s so-called “Green Mountains”, for example.

Oh. . . wait. . .

(I’m not disagreeing with the idea that covering skyscrapers with trees is probably not realistic in the way artists portray, but the idea that “mountains only have trees growing on one side” is demonstrably wrong-- plenty of mountains are taller than our tallest skyscrapers, and are covered in forest, Vermont is the easiest example. Extremely tall mountains are bare because at that altitude trees won’t grow, hence the term “treeline.”)


#3

Well realistically when we have materials to build skyscrapers that look like some of the artist renderings then it’s not hard to imagine we have the genetic and biological capability to design trees to grow however we want.

With our current capabilities it seems overtly dumb, but I’m guessing the idea of a 2000’ tall building seemed far fetched in the 1890’s as well.


#4

Far fetched? How about an impossibility for 1890.

In 1930 the sculptor of the Ceres statue at the top of the 45 floor Chicago Board of Trade didn’t put a face on her because he was convinced nobody would ever build anything high enough to see her face.

Interestingly you can’t see the face from the Sears Tower (suck it, Willis) because you’re so much higher than it. So in the end I guess he was partially correct.


#5

Yeah I pretty much thought that reasoning was BS too. Of course the trees on the North side of a building would NEVER get direct sun, unlike those on the North side of a mountain which are only slightly more shaded than those on the South side. Really, trees are adapted to growing in the shade of trees that are already grown. But trees and the large amount of soil that they grow in, and the increased wind loads they cause would put a great deal of structural load on buildings. What is the carbon load of pumping all the water that they need up to the floor that they occupy?


#6

Well that’s my point. Science fiction does it all the time. Who’s to say transparent aluminum isn’t something we could design? Or those cool looking prototype concept cars that have virtually no roof support (which is also all “glass” or other transparent material). So when I see these architecture renderings of buildings in the clouds with trees on them I take it more as science fiction than present fact. Now if someone is actually trying to pitch that as a thing, well god no that’s just idiotic.


#7

Trump Tower has trees on it. Just saying. (I have no idea what point I’m trying to make here)


#8

Sure, I agree, but now you’re talking hypothetically, whether that hypothetical is realistic or not remains to be seen. There’s no limit to the human imagination, that doesn’t mean we can build a Tardis or shrink humans in a submarine down to the size of a microbe.

Yeah, I’m not denying something like what’s in that painting is possible, but we can’t expect huge oaks to grow on a balcony (which I think is what Cory is saying here too-- we can have small plants, gardens, even stunted trees in large buckets, but mini-jungles will pose biological and engineering problems that may not be worth the effort.)


#9

[quote=“simonize, post:5, topic:76697”]What is the carbon load of pumping all the water that they need up to the floor that they occupy?[/quote]I seem to recall that a couple of years ago there was a lot of fuss about the notion of cooling buildings with lake or river water rather than AC. Not sure how it panned out, but methinks using some of the water for irrigation is a logical extension. I also seem to recall much eagerness about the idea of having prominent green areas within the building for the purpose of improving air quality – but I suppose a green area on the inside of a building is a rather different matter than areas with more exposure to the elements.

On that note, can one sustain a tree through hydroponics and drip irrigation? That would reduce the soil requirements, at least.


#10

Can’t we find a way of rapidly growing redwoods, with them encouraged to grow in a way that forms natural rooms inside them?


#11

Oh, for a minute there I thought someone was dissing grizzly bears.


#12

I too, was suspecting that an actual tree would be scraped. Perhaps it was a new form of vandalism performed by errant bullshitters.


#13

Are you suggesting we should build skyscrapers that look like the pope’s funny hat instead?


#14

Boy, that’s a lot to unpack. As somebody who practices in this field (20+ years now) it is very possible to design structural systems sufficient to carry the required loads. Practical? Economically feasible? Maybe not. But definitely possible.

Also, “seismic dampers” are for seismic (i.e. earthquake) loads. Wind loads are of a completely different magnitude and frequency. Wind loads on a tree are trivial compared to loads on a building. If one can provide for a root containment system that keeps the tree from tipping it’s likely that the overall wind loads for the building, or at least for parts of the envelope components and cladding, would decrease due to the small scale turbulence induced by branches, leaves, etc.


#15

Could your point be that Bullshit is excellent fertilizer?


#16

In Dan Simmons’s sci fi epic Hyperion Cantos there was a nature-worshipping order of humans called “Templars” who did that kind of thing, growing gigantic tree-cities that reached to the edges of a planet’s atmosphere. They also created a number of nature reserves on various planets and followed the teachings of “The Muir.”


#17

Want to cover a skyscraper with foliage? Kudzu to the rescue!


#18

The general rule of thumb is to use native plants and shrubs, so you’re not watering them and they thrive in the typical rain levels.


#19

Yeah, I don’t know why we’re encouraging invasive ivy, either.


#20

I think kudzu is here to stay whether we encourage it or not. Introducing it in urban environments sounds like fantastic, temporary, destructive urban renewal.