‘The AIPH & COA Community Garden’, 2018 Taichung World Flora Exposition
The AIPH & COA Community Garden is based on a combination of various functions: sustainability, ecology, landscape, and air quality improvement. It demonstrates how the use of ‘living green’ in cities improves the environment, social life and health of urban communities and focuses on what green spaces can do for many citizens living in apartments without their own gardens or access to outdoor space. The importance of ‘living green’ to quality of life is promoted through the AIPH Green City concept. (www.aiph.org).
The garden’s green space spans 660m2 and includes seventeen ornamental trees, an orchard, vertical gardens, raised edible planting beds, an eco-friendly natural pond, a green roof, a rain garden, permeable pathways, solar panels, a planted table with an aquaponics (sustainable farming) system, insect hotels, outdoor gym equipment, and native local plants.
Key Design Elements
The eco-friendly contemporary office building provides an important landmark within the space. Its green roof lessens the ‘Urban Heat Island’ (UHI) effect, as well as capturing particulates and pollutants in the air. It also produces oxygen and provides insulation to enable energy saving.
The solar panels on the top of the building absorb the sun’s rays, generating electricity in a sustainable way.
A rainwater harvesting system has been installed to capture rainwater for irrigation. Reducing water use is an important key consideration as the exhibition takes place during the dry season, when there is barely any rain in Taichung, making water resources a critical issue.
The rain gardens and permeable paving surface create a sustainable drainage system (SUDS), allowing the movement of stormwater through the surface and preventing flooding and stormwater runoff. A SUDS provides amenity and biodiversity benefits and lessens UHI effects through cooling by evaporation. This is both environmentally beneficial and cost-effective.
The insect hotels within the native planting beds promote biodiversity, providing a space for hibernating insects such as ladybirds and butterflies.
The planted table enables food to grow right where it is eaten! The table includes a mix of edible plants (i.e. vegetables and herbs) to encourage healthier and more sustainable living, demonstrating a way of growing food in the home and with limited space.
An aquaponics (sustainable farming) system has been installed with the table, to demonstrate that fertilising can be done sustainably without using chemicals which can be bad for the overall health of the soil and the water table. Aquaponics systems constantly recycle or re-circulate water, meaning that plants don’t need to be watered. This creates two significant benefits: 1) reducing crop failure due to poor watering routines/techniques 2) reducing the waste of water.
The eco-friendly pond provides many practical benefits for wildlife, creating a habitat for a wide range of aquatic plants and animals, whilst requiring low maintenance and minimal electricity cost. Bio-ponds attract people as well as birds, insects, and wildlife, support local fauna and encourage biodiversity.
The orchard trees and raised edible planting beds, made from recycled corrugated metal sheets, attract butterflies and other insects to enhance biodiversity and inspire visitors to harvest their own food in a sustainable way and to engage in healthy outdoor activities. Research has widely demonstrated that gardening and harvesting can have a very positive social, economic and environmental impact on communities.
The outdoor gym area, which is located between the orchard and the edible planting beds, also provides wellbeing benefits as it attracts visitors to use the space and provides a free opportunity to exercise in a sociable way.
The vertical gardens, made from recycled PVC pipes and gutters within the raised beds, demonstrate a way of increasing growing space and productivity and making maximum use of limited space in a country where most people live in apartments and don’t have their own garden or outdoor space.
The proposed tree planting enhances wildlife, cools the air, provides shade for the space and reduces the UHI effect.
The proposed planting scheme contains mostly native local plants such as the traditional Taiwan tea (Camelia sinensis) and rice (Oryza sativa) plants, to enhance habitat and encourage biodiversity. The proposed tea planting on the small hills references traditional Taiwanese tea planting on the slopes of mountains and hills and provides a striking evergreen feature. The rice plants are planted in the eco-pond to represent traditional rice fields in a natural setting.
Tall, evergreen ornamental hedges along the two boundaries provide an enclosure within the space and, as a green structure, also functions as a wind barrier during the winter season in Taichung.
The design elements of the project have been developed in harmony with the aims of the AIPH Green City concept for improving sustainability and the future health of the planet.
These aspects contribute to the ambition for the AIPH & COA Community Garden to be a beautiful and functional installation that transforms urban areas for the benefit of their inhabitants and the environment, reflecting a new era of sustainability.