A new New York City office building — designed by nonprofit architecture and urban design firm Terreform ONE — will serve as “a vertical meadow for butterflies.”
Gardens and a roof terrace on the Manhattan eight-story build will cater for pollinators with specific plants. Inside, people will look up from their work to see a milkweed-filled, climate controlled terrarium attached to the wall, designed to support monarch butterflies.
Designed with butterflies in mind, the new office building could also help those living and working in the area; algae will help to purify the air and air quality will be monitored by Intel drones the size of butterflies. “Anything that’s good for monarchs is also great for humans,” Terreform ONE founder Mitchell Joachim told Fast Company.
“All the different control systems that are involved to keep the building comfortable are also great for people,” he explained.
Protecting Species With Architecture
Around the world, the monarch butterfly population is in decline. In California, for example, species numbers dropped 86 percent in one single year, from 2017 to 2018. In Mexico, it fell by 15 percent.
Climate change, pesticides, and habitat loss have been linked to the massive decline.
Terreform ONE is on a mission to help turn this around; its primary aim is to prevent and combat the extinction of species through design. “We realized that what’s happening is literally extinction – to us and everything around us,” said Joachim.
“The thought was we need to change our mantra from a group that’s consulting about the environment to a group that deals with design against extinction,” he added.
Butterflies and pollinators aren’t the only ones facing extinction. It’s estimated that one million species are now at risk, including much larger mammals. Design can be used to support these species, too; one idea is to potentially find a way of incorporating giraffe walkways into gardens in African suburbs.
Terreform ONE says on its website, “we strive to develop inclusive spaces and systems that manifest environmental and social justice for all beings.”