This gigantic garden in the sky is the Bionic Tower, designed by Vincent Callebaut for the Taiwan Tower contest. Although not selected for the second stage of the ‘Taichung Gateway – Active Gateway City’ competition, Callebaut’s design is so innovatively green and aesthetically impressive that it deserves better than to be tucked away in the proverbial drawer. The design of the Bionic Arch departed from the concept of creating an urban oasis which celebrates lifestyle, innovation, culture and biodiversity, right at the heart of Central Taiwan. Its ground print, located on a 4.4 hectare site, does not exceed one hectare, while the structure itself aims to echo, mirror and expand the space of the park in which it is located. It features green vertical platforms, sky gardens and living façades, in an effort to keep all the channels between man-made and natural environments open. It makes use of solar and wind-generated power, plus botanical and bio-technologies. It is fully self-reliant energy wise and has a zero carbon footprint. Functionally, the spaces it contains (exhibition rooms, lobby, information center, lobby elevator, shops, restaurants, observatories, laboratories and offices) are transformed into genuine suspended gardens. It includes three main entities: the Taiwan Tower, for leisure, relaxation and research; the Museum of Taichung City Development, meant to enable the city’s inhabitants learn more about their own urban identity; and affiliated facilities, for service and technical spaces.
The Taiwan Tower competition was prompted by the relocation of the Taichung airport, which led the local government to formulate a plan for the future development of the area, in January 2007. The project, which then took the shape of a design contest, aims to integrate all the functions of the former airport into one structure, the Taichung Gateway, with four large centers (a large park, large campus, large exhibition center), plus the Taiwan Tower. No matter the winner of the competition, the results will surely be outstanding and revolutionize the scene of urban planning.