Even some of the successful projects seem to have got the hang of getting greenery into the vertical concrete jungles created by Architects.
However, is it really all it is cracked up to be?
Picture this - lots of skyscrapers with 50% or more vegetation amongst the footprint of the buildings. Imagine the fire inferno that could potentially be created by combining dry weather, limited or poor maintenance and close combination of highrise structures in a densely populated area. Wow - that could potentially be a huge risk.
Really, why are we trying to shove landscape into a place where it doesn't really want to go?
After all, a landscape in a podium environment is only going to have a limited life span before it needs to be replaced. 5 years? 8 years at the maximum before it starts looking tired and the nutrients of the building contractors cheapest podium mix have been sucked out of each planter bed?
Lots of planning documents are now appearing with the obligatory landscape tacked onto the side of a building or draped over the facade to make the artists impression more 'impressive'. However the reality is, creating these types of landscape spaces above ground for the long term is not a cheap exercise. Additional weights for the building structure, additional watering systems and waterproofing issues, more maintenance, limited life spans and numerous other challenges ensure these ideas are 'booted' as soon as the builder gets hold of the contract.
Is a better approach to plan ground plane areas for more open space? Open vegetated corridors in and amongst cities and urban areas is always at a minimum. Not paved open parks, but significantly vegetated environments with large trees. Not manicured lawns and water features but naturally occurring native bushland or forest space - good for bush walking, mountain bike riding or general appreciation of the outdoor environment.
What about bigger communal deep in-ground recreational areas around the base of buildings that spread across sites? Encouragement of residents to be a true part of the local community. Facilities that are hard to resist. Limited pavements and hard surfaces. Large urban vegetable gardens. Heavily vegetated in-ground spaces around entry points of buildings that adjoin neighboring sites, green spines, and parklands.
It is almost like the policy of squeezing water filtration devices into every development. Jammed onto the site boundary so the landscape buffer is then limited due to the Hydraulic Engineer's horror of adding trees to their underground pipework. A better approach is to treat the water downstream in a larger filtration basin - therefore eliminating the need for conflicts of interest on small lot developments.
Is trying to add significant landscapes to podiums the same scenario?