The Center for Ecological Learnings

Today I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share Architect Kaveh Samiei’s design for The Center for Ecological Learnings in Tehran. Following is a description of Kaveh’s design and drawings which he graciously provided. Thank you to Kaveh for sharing this wonderful project. Follow his writings on The Nature of Cities blog where he recently wrote the wonderful and detailed post, Architecture and Urban Ecosystems: From Segregation to Integration.


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Vancouver’s Green Streets

(Photo from Gardens from the Green Streets Program)

The City of Vancouver, in British Columbia, has a successful Green Streets program where residents adopt a corner bulge or traffic circle. The gardener then designs, plants and maintains their adopted garden for as long as they like which can be a single  month or multiple years. I found this to be a fascinating project, particularly after my observations over the summer of the unexpected habitat I found in my own local roundabouts as well as the Pollinator Pathway, another local project I wrote about and recently helped to install several new gardens. I contacted Erin MacDonald, the Green Streets Coordinator, about the program, and she was kind enough to provided a lot of good information. I first asked what inspired this program and here is what she said:

The program began in 1994 as a pilot…

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Not Your Traditional Nest Box

When we talk about a nest box we usually envision a wooden structure, often in the shape of a human house, hanging from a tree in the backyard. However, if you talked about a nest box in the UK, they may have a different idea. The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has a page on their website about nestboxes for the roof. The swifts found in Europe, Apus apus are listed by the RSPB as amber status, which means they’re birds of concern because they’re numbers have plummeted in the last decade. While the reasons for their decline aren’t entirely clear,  speculation is that a significant aspect is a loss of nesting sites. Like some other birds, the swifts have come to rely on human structures for their nesting needs, but in the UK some established colonies have been lost due to…

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Case Study:: Chicago City Hall’s Green Roof

One of the most impressive green roofs in the country is the one on top of City Hall in Chicago. Part of the impressiveness comes from the fact that the building is over 100 years old and was not designed specifically to allow for the additional weight of a green roof. Many buildings can only sustain a minimal depth of green roof substrate but somehow the building in Chicago managed a full garden. The building is large, covering one city block so there was a lot of roof area, over 20,000 square feet in fact, to work with. There are over 20,000 plants installed and 150 plants species.  Most of the plants are native and what would be found in in local prairies. Among some of the species included are asters, milkweed, coneflower, sedges, sunflower, clover, grasses and even vines, shrubs and two trees. You can view a full…

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Case Study:: Sihlpost Platform at Zurich Main Railway Station

There’s a fascinating project in Zurich that is integrated with a major railway. While planning an expansion to the railway, it was discovered that the area was a sensitive habitat area and they had to come up with a creative way to avoid disturbance. The area alongside the tracks had developed it’s own unique, desert-like habitat that was being used by a variety of species including insects and lizards.

The solution was to built platform roofs and move the habitat to the rooftop. The roof has many elements to providing diverse habitat including varying substrate depths for a variety of vegetation. There are also small mounds to provide some relief from the elements. Alongside the roofs are ‘lizard ladders’ which are mesh boxes filled with rocks as well as planted fences to provide access to the roof tops for the variety of species that use it.

Within a year of completion…

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Case Study:: Oldham School Green Roof

Over on the BBC news website is a good video about a school in Oldham that was lucky enough to have a company offer to install a green roof on their building. Now the roof is used for lessons about plants and wildlife and has become a magnet for birds. Many of the kids don’t have gardens at home and tell the BBC they enjoy the school’s roof garden very much.

Chalk it up as one more reason to integrate habitat into an urban setting.

Watch the short video:: Roof Garden With a Difference

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