During the last years, the emergence of architectures that mimic the role of trees in open space has
been huge. From canopies that cast their shadow over the public space to complex structures that
include evaporative cooling systems, these elements pour into open spaces with the only aim of
creating more pleasant environments. This article is an attempt of bringing together some of the most
important, or at least most published projects on that topic.
From left to right and top-to-bottom, the Puppy by Jeff Koons proposes a garden without ground that is
extruded in the form of a huge puppy as a provocation of the decorative qualities of vegetation. On the
other hand, the forest created by Paredes Pinos in Córdoba, as well as the “artificial trees” in Vila-Seca
by Arteks, and the Orquideorama in Medellin by Plan B architects, emphasize the importance of providing
shadowed spaces that improve comfort in outdoor spaces. Juergen Mayer goes further with this idea and
proposes a huge inhabited canopy multiplying the public space.
Going forward, Mass Studies’ Air Forest, a 25m wide pneumatic structure, acts as a continuation of the
forest that next to it, providing shade for the public and also measuring site’s conditions (wind speed and
air pressure). As early as in 1992, some experiential approaches for the Expo'92 in Seville studied the
possibility of artificial trees that could also decrease temperatures and increase moisture underneath their
canopies through evaporative cooling. More recently, Ecosistema Urbano built three Air-Trees seeking to
recreate nature as a machine that can function not only ecologically, but also socially as a meeting point
for the surrounding neighborhood. Finally, focusing on the productive facet of vegetation, Kurasek’s
Vertical Permaculture presents a vertical typology that allows producing vegetables in the city center.