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Time to protect the 'green lace doily' of Montreal, environmentalists say Coalition is pressing Quebec to create a provincial park joining endangered lands MICHELLE LALONDE, The Gazette Published: 10 hours ago Environmental groups across southwestern Quebec are ratcheting up the pressure on the Quebec government to create a new kind of provincial park to stop the rapid destruction of forests, wetlands, islands and other natural spaces around Montreal. Fifty-five groups have united behind the innovative project to create the Montreal Archipelago Ecological Park, Montreal's answer to the "green belts" other Canadian cities have established to stop urban sprawl, combat climate change and preserve nearby natural green space. "We don't call it a green belt, though, it's more like a green lace doily," said David Fletcher, a spokesperson for the new coalition calling itself Partners for the Montreal Archipelago Ecological Park. The ship has sailed long ago on creating a true green belt around Montreal, since the island is surrounded by rapidly growing suburbs. But environmental groups say it would be possible for the province to legislate as protected the remaining forests, shorelines, wetlands and other natural spaces on Montreal Island and Laval's Île Jésus, as well as a number of undeveloped islands in the region. The groups want to see this "green doily" of remaining natural lands protected with the same status as a provincial park, or what the Quebec government refers to as a national park. The government has made repeated international commitments to protect at least eight per cent of its territory, ensuring that the protected areas reflect the biological diversity of the province. While the government has recently created some new conservation areas in northern Quebec, Fletcher says nothing is being done to protect southwestern Quebec, an ecologically rich domain that biodiversity experts refer to as the sugar maple bitternut hickory bioclimatic domain. Less than four per cent of this domain, which stretches from the lower Laurentians to the U.S. border, is protected from development. "The tough job that needs to be done is down here, where half the people of Quebec live, and this is is simply being ignored." Although former Liberal environment minister Thomas Mulcair had expressed enthusiasm for the park project, current minister Line Beauchamp has been at best lukewarm. In a recent letter to the project's proponents, responding to their request for support, an Environment Department official suggested the protection of these lands is a municipal and regional responsibility. "I share your concerns about the protection of biodiversity in southern Quebec, where we find a great richness of species and ecosystems, both land-based and aquatic," wrote Patrick Beauchesne, director of ecological heritage and parks in the Environment Department. But Beauchesne went on to suggest that municipalities are responsible for zoning of privately owned urban land, and did not offer support. Fletcher said his group is determined to take the debate to the National Assembly. Members of his group met last week with Mulcair, now an NDP member of Parliament, and with Parti Québécois environment critic Camil Bouchard. "The political establishment has to get behind this project," Fletcher said. "Quebec has (biodiversity) commitments that are international. ... Now it's time to move from statements of principle to action." [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com
Dragonfly concept aims for ecological self-sufficiency in New York The latest concept design from Vincent Callebaut Architects – the Dragonfly – has been designed with the intention of easing the ever-increasing need for ecological and environmental self-sufficiency in the urban cityscape. The proposed development, designed around the Southern bank of Roosevelt Island in New York, follows a vertical farm design which, it is hoped, would cultivate food, agriculture, farming and renewable energy in an urban setting. The unique 128 floor, 700m concept design is spread over two oblong towers and suggests building a prototype of an urban farm in which a mixed programme of housing, offices, laboratories and farming spaces are vertically laid out over several floors and cultivated by its inhabitants. The architecture of the design proposes reinventing the vertical building, so associated with the New York skyline of the 19th and 20th centuries, both structurally and functionally as well as ecologically. The functional organisation of the design is arranged around two 600m towers, symmetrically arranged around a huge climactic greenhouse that links them, and constructed of glass and steel. This greenhouse, which defines the shape of the design, supports the load of the building and is directly inspired by the structural exoskeleton of dragonfly wings. Two inhabited rings buttress around the ‘wings,’ and along the exterior of these are solar panels, which will provide up to half the buildings electricity, with the rest being supplied by three wind machines along the vertical axes of the building. While most would argue that the unconventional design of Dragonfly would be more suited to Dubailand than New York, the conceptual design tackles the contemporary dilemma of food production and agriculture in a city sorely lacking in the horizontal space required to do so, as well as attempting to achieve this in an ecologically sound and renewable way by merging production and consumption in the heart of the city. John Edwards Reporter http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=11599
Diagrid design completed for Ernst & Young headquarters Foster + Partners has completed a headquarters building for Ernst & Young at the gateway to the Vivaldi-park area of the new Zuidas district, south of Amsterdam. Commissioned by ING, the tower establishes a landmark on the route into the city with its diagrid façade. Ten per cent more efficient than the target Dutch environmental standards, the building also extends the public realm with a water court at its base. The 24-storey building is divided into two twelve metre-wide column free towers with open, flexible floor plates. The blocks are staggered in plan to admit as much natural light as possible and to make the most of the northerly city views. The northern façade is fully glazed, while partial thirty per cent glazing to the east, west and south limits solar gain. Combined with ground water storage to further save on energy for cooling, the overall environmental strategy is highly efficient. Linked by a shared transparent core, the offices are serviced by double-height meeting spaces and light-filled social spaces allowing communication between different floors. The structural steel diagrid is clad in silver aluminium and is offset by opaque black panels, which reduce the definition of the individual floor levels. This lattice scales the entire 87-metre high facade and gives the building its identity. At the base of the building the height of the diagrid creates a triple-storey lobby space, while at the top of each tower north and south-facing terraces are set into the structure. The towers are approached via a water-court with an ecological pond beneath an overhanging canopy. Defining the relationship between public and private, this space houses the social functions, such as staff restaurant, terrace, auditorium and bar, clustered around the water-court. Coupled with a green roof on the restaurant building, the pond has an important environmental contribution. 65 per cent of rainwater is retained on site while the run-off feeds into the Amsterdam canal system to control water levels following peak rainfall. The pond is naturally cleansed by a planted biotope of reeds, water lilies and grasses. David Nelson, Senior Executive and joint Head of Design at Foster + Partners said: “Our first building in Amsterdam not only exceeds Dutch environmental regulations by ten per cent, but provides a striking marker for the Vivaldi park area, a high quality, flexible working environment for tenants Ernst & Young and a lively public water-court with a working ecological pond at its base.” http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=2434