By Jody McCutcheon
A building complex will soon be going up in Mumbai, India: one that mimics a tree in both form and function. India’s mangrove tree is the inspiration for Grove Towers, a 77,000–square meter mixed-use project designed by Copenhagen’s 3XN Architects and developed by Mumbai’s Ornate Spaces.
From the outside, Grove Towers’ girthy, braided base resembles a mangrove trunk, with several floors of retail space contained therein. Above, two towers rise thirty-eight storeys (136 meters), like twin tree limbs, consisting of 273 residential apartments. Most of these apartments offer at least two views: of mangrove forests to the north and the Indian Ocean to the west. Amenities include a club house, gym and pool. Best of all, imagine the temptation of having to pass through a shopping centre every time you come home.
So Grove Towers resembles a tree in form, but how might it function like one? In order to answer this question, 3XN looked inward, to GXN, an internal division responsible for guiding 3XN’s long-term ecological mandate by incorporating innovative green materials and building technologies into 3XN designs. With LEED Gold certification in mind, 3XN has infused Grove Towers with several green features. A cleverly built façade includes solar-shading devices the architectural firm’s website calls “softly shaped sun visors.” These work to reduce solar heat gain while still promoting natural ventilation and allowing plenty of sunlight. And the exterior of that braided, mangrove-like base is festooned with over 2500 square meters of vertical gardens which serve to lower carbon dioxide levels and thus improve air quality.
Know what else reduces heat gain while improving air quality? Trees! These eco-enhancing functions elevate Grove Towers to something loftier and more precious than just a spectacular-looking building. Call it an honorary mangrove, perhaps, a vertically integrated community of people, nature and abundant diversity.
With an expected completion date of 2017, work has only recently begun. The ground-breaking event featured a special ceremony called Bhumi Puja, seeking Mother Nature’s blessing on the tree-inspired project. With air quality control and solar heat management at the heart of Grove Towers, Mother Nature should easily give her blessing. Really, who wouldn’t want to live in a tree house rising from a root system of shopping concourses?