Bioglow: Creating Plants that Glow in the Dark

Imagine a street at night that is not illuminated with yellow lamps or LED diodes but with colourful glowing plants and trees on the sides. What sounds like a scenario from a fantasy or science-fiction story could become reality sooner than one might think. There were some experiments with luminescent plants in the past but they all relied on paint, injected chemicals or external UV-lights to create the glowing effect. Scientists have now discovered a way to genetically modify plants so that they can emit light on their own, similar to glowing bugs.

The molecular biologist Dr. Alexander Krichevsky is the inventor and responsible for the main scientific work on this field. He founded the company Bioglow in St. Louis, Missouri and is working on making the autoluminescent flowers, trees and shrubs a working reality. Bioglow already produced the first commercially glowing plant called Starlight Avatar™. It is a genetically modified variety of the Nicotiana alata, also known as Winged Tobacco. Throughout its life cycle it emits a greenish light that can be seen best in absolute dark. According to Bioglow the light of future plants could be shining in many different colours like blue or red. The spectacular prototype of a autoluminescent plant is right now only available in a limited amount. 20 specimen can be purchased by auction on the Bioglow website.

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Fermob Gives Place de la République in Paris a New Look

After two and a half years of effort, the Place de la République recently revealed its new look at a ceremony attended by Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris. The aim of the refurbishment was to decrease the traffic and to increase the attractiveness of the spot.

The architects from TVK were assigned with the reshaping of the place; for the furnishings they chose the “Luxembourg” collection by the French company Fermob. The range includes single and double armchairs, benches, children chairs and tables. The color of the furniture is a vivid poppy red. Many pieces are moveable so that people can change the look of the place as they like. Additionally to the design pieces there is also a game library that people can use for free, a nice idea to improve the social exchange in the city.

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Trees in Giant Flowerpots Green the Centre of Dijon

The classic Place Darcy in Dijon, France has undergone a major refurbishment. Giant Flowerpots have been placed above the new underground parking garage, half submerged in the square’s paving.

French landscape architect, Alfred Peter, is responsible for the innovative design. The classic square has been given a green layer, which is pleasing to the eye. An arboretum of 55 different trees in a geometric pattern has been created, the shade of which offers a pleasant retreat on hot days. The large flowerpots, with a maximum diameter of 240 cm, have been manufactured using bio composite with natural fibres. The rims of the pots form circular benches around the trees, offering the opportunity to sit down, which is especially useful near tram stations. The special Treetec® System combined with 3.5 m³ substrate allows the trees to fully develop in the urban climate.

The Giant Flowerpots are being produced by the Dutch company Streetlife, who also offer street furniture, tree products, bridges and decking materials for landscape architects. Founded by designer Peter Krouwel, Streetlife has offices in Scandinavia, Dubai and America.

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Amazon’s Headquarter Goes Green

Amazon’s plans for its new headquarters look like a futuristic utopia. A structure of three merged bio-domes with lots of plants in it will be built in front of the new main building in the centre of Seattle.

The intent behind the design is to create an alternative environment where employees can work and socialize in a more natural park-like setting. The facility will incorporate dining, meeting and lounge spaces and a variety of botanical zones modeled on montane ecologies found around the globe.

The design of the new headquarters was developed by NBBJ, who also designed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is expected to start construction later in 2013 and could take up to eight years to finish.

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Superkilen: Copenhagen Park Project awarded

The district of Nørrebro is a multiethnic society in the northwest of the Danish capital Copenhagen. It is a vibrant place where many different cultures live peacefully next to each other. This quarter got the attention of architects, landscape designers and city planners all around the world: Its artistic refurbishment was awarded with the 2013 Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design by the American Institute of Architects.

Superkilen is a spectacular park project which was realized by the two architect companies BIG and Topotek 1 together with the artist group Superflex. The district has been divided into three zones, each with its own theme and color scheme. The square for markets, culture and sports is completely covered in shades of red. Streets, open spaces and house walls are shining in bright tones of pink, orange and crimson, turning a grey area into a lively dynamic spot. The zone with the most living areas is colored black with white lines winding through the streets. The largest part of the district is the green park area where hills and playgrounds invite families to spend their time.

There are one hundred different urban elements from over fifty countries placed throughout the whole district, for example a bench from Ethiopia, pipes from Israel and soil from Palestine. These everyday and free to use items are turned into exhibition pieces and represent the many different cultural heritages of the inhabitants.

The Jury of the American Institute of Architects commented on the award: “This project is a joy! This is not only original, but stunning to behold. It is noteworthy for its aesthetic approach, which is straightforwardly artificial rather than pretending to be natural.”

Superkilen is a city project which changed the looks of an otherwise very dull place into a vibrant and lighthearted area. It is cost effective and relatively easy to realize. The idea could be used as a model for other cities. 

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