Our constructed environment is always being built, rebuilt, modified, and adjusted to meet our needs. We are exposed to a wide range of components in our built environment that are essential to the quality of our immediate surroundings. A key component of the architecture is an adaptation, which varies from location to location, context to context, and individual to individual. This process of adaptation is extremely intricate and varied. Adaptive Greens are a result of our built environment changing. Every stakeholder in the built environment makes an unconscious or conscious contribution to this process.

This might include anything from a tiny balcony to a sizable landscape design. People are adding green space to their balconies by planting and establishing a miniature ecosystem. On the other hand, huge empty sites are being transformed into sizable public parks. As a result, the ecosystems all around us are changing and renewing. Let’s look at some intriguing projects where adaptable architecture is changing the environment.

Adaptive Landscape

Gas Works Park was constructed on the site of an old coal gasification plant across from downtown Seattle on the beaches of Lake Union. The city purchased the 19-acre location for parks in 1965. The Park, with its Great Earth Mound peak (built from material excavated on site), was created 10 years after it was first made public and was intended for passive activities like strolling or kite flying as well as various-sized community meetings. The location provides unparalleled panoramic views of the lake and the city skyline.

Landscape architect Richard Haag, who created the park, has referred to his work there as “thinning the forest” because of the way he edited the collection of industrial towers, stacks, pipelines, and sheds. The boiler house, a prominent landmark, was renovated into a picnic area with tables and grills, and an old exhauster-compressor structure was turned into an outdoor play barn with a maze of colorfully painted equipment for kids. This innovative initiative has been praised for its success in gaining support from the public and altering attitudes toward post-industrial areas. It is considered innovative since it uses bioremediation, a natural process, to restore damaged soils. In 2013, Gas Works Park became a part of the National Register of Historic Places.

An overview of Adaptive Greens of Architecture - Sheet1
Gas Works Park in Seattle Washington_©windows10spotlight.com

Adaptive Greens of Building Exterior

In Singapore’s historic Newton neighborhood, an apartment complex was created by Heatherwick Studio. The design of the studio is a dramatic departure from the glass and steel tower typology and was inspired by Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a “city in a garden” that he had fifty years earlier as well as by the lush tropical surroundings of the location. The goal of the studio was to create residences in a garden that incorporated all the advantages of apartment living and allowed occupants to enjoy vistas, light, and solitude while yet feeling linked to the city’s tree-lined streets. The adaptive greens of this building are linked to the building’s exterior.

The flats are elevated 27 meters over a densely planted tropical garden at ground level. The garden’s greenery is interwoven upwards and around the structure via a series of planted chandeliers that develop as they ascend the stunning 18-meter-high lobby to become spacious private planted outdoor areas. The balconies are alternated to create double-height outdoor areas filled with plants from over twenty flora species. The plants will develop to flow down the building, softening its look as well as surround each unit with quiet and relaxing flora and natural shade from the Singaporean sun.

An overview of Adaptive Greens of Architecture - Sheet2
Heatherwick EDEN_©HuftonCrow

Adaptive Greens of Building Interior 

Naman Pure Spa is a remarkable project in Danang, Vietnam which has a very lush interior green. Keep fit at the equally sleek health club with gym, meditation, and yoga sessions held at the open lounge garden in the still-cool mornings. The ground floor contains open spaces with relaxing platforms surrounded by serene lotus ponds and hanging gardens. 

MIA Design Studio’s ingenious use of natural ventilation keeps the building cool and gives greens to take place inside the interior space. With the use of local plants, each retreat becomes a healing environment where the guest can enjoy a luxurious wellness in privacy.

Different areas flow smoothly into each other and the beautiful landscape creates an amazing journey into a dream-like experience.  The facade is composed of lattice patterns alternated with vertical landscapes that filter the strong tropical sunlight into a pleasant play of light and shadow on the textured walls. Various plants are carefully allocated and become a part of the architectural screens.

An overview of Adaptive Greens of Architecture - Sheet3
MIA Stusio | Naman Pure Spa_©Oki Hiroyuki

Adaptive Greens of Rooftop

William McDonough & Partners designed the roof of Chicago City Hall. This adaptive green is set on the rooftop of an old building which is remarkable. The design includes over 150 species of native cultivated and non-native plants and utilizes both intensive and extensive systems. Water use is mitigated through the collection of stormwater that is recycled for irrigation.

William McDonough & Partners | Chicago City Hall_©farrside.com


windows10spotlight.com. (2021). Gas Works Park in Seattle [Photograph]. (Gas Works Park in Seattle: https://windows10spotlight.com/images/9710ebd937263addfe24173c7c41dff5)

HuftonCrow. (2020). Heatherwick EDEN [Photograph]. (Heatherwick EDEN: https://galeriemagazine.com/thomas-heatherwick-tropical-architecture-eden-singapore/)

Oki H. (2020). MIA Studio – Naman Pure Spa [Photograph]. (MIA Studio | Naman Pure Spa: https://www.urdesignmag.com/architecture/2015/07/31/naman-pure-spa-by-mia-design-studio-vietnam/)

farrside.com. (2005). William McDonough & Partners – Chicago City Hall Rooftop [Photograph]. (William McDonough & Partners | Chicago City Hall Rooftop: https://www.farrside.com/chicago-city-hall-green-roof)


Muhammad Shafayet Hossain is an architect, artist, designer and researcher who is currently working at MSH Atelier. Remarkably making contemporary ideas and working as an artist in the contemporary art scene in Bangladesh. Also, he is associated with working in Research and related fields of Architecture.