If Greta Thunberg was a building, she would be this one!

Every day we are seeing innovative architecture that is blending tech with nature to fit our modern lifestyles while benefitting the environment. These hybrid structures that think about humans and nature alike often result in the most beautiful buildings. The latest addition in sustainable architecture is the Rainbow Tree in Cebu, Philippines by Paris-based Vincent Callebaut Architectures which reduces the carbon footprint of every future resident.

The design team has described the Rainbow Tree as a multi-faceted revealing structure that pays tribute to the cultural and natural Filipino heritage. Cebu is one of the 66 creative cities awarded by UNESCO for its innovation in design, fashion, architecture, and the production of eco-responsible furniture – an example of the new world we are trying to build. The aim was to design a residential apartment that blended the luxury lifestyle with a sustainable lifestyle while being LEED + BERDE certified (environmental certifications). The 32-story tower stands at 115-meter and will be built using solid wood which is a natural renewable material available in abundance locally while 30,000 plants will grace its exterior. The technique is a genius one – the wooden slats are perpendicularly superimposed and connected using structural, organic adhesives such as tannins, lignin, cellulose, or even starch. “This organic building integrates the principles of passive bioclimatism and advanced renewable energies. We named it ‘The Rainbow Tree’ because it is an ode to Eucalyptus Deglupta, also known as Rainbow Eucalyptus, an iconic and colorful tree from the Philippines,” says the team.

You must be thinking about the wood being a fire hazard but the Eucalyptus is a slow-burning wood that does not release toxic fumes and transmits heat 250 times slower than melting steel and 10 times slower than concrete which cracks under the effects of the flames. There are 1,200 geometric modules stacked to make the structure and each module’s side measures 4 meters with the height varying between 3.2 to 4.8 meters. All the timber modules are prefabricated and standardized in a factory for precise mass production. The Cross Laminated Timber manufacturing process requires much less energy than concrete or steel, and moreover it does not generate greenhouse gases. Fun fact: the construction industry is a larger contributor to global warming than the airline industry, particularly the production of concrete. The local plants in the interconnected terraces create a natural ventilation system and are the glue for a symbiotic relationship between the residents and nature.

The trees are cut and harvested in short circuits from eco-responsible forests where each tree cut is replaced by planting another in the archipelago. As the trees grow they store carbon which would be released if not used to build the Rainbow Tree into the atmosphere – for 1 ton of wood produced, about 0.9 tonnes of carbon is confined which means the building has a negative carbon footprint! If Greta Thunberg was an architectural marvel, she would definitely be the Rainbow Tree.

Designer: Vincent Callebaut Architectures