In a few short years the concept of biomass has become a permanent referent of any architectural project, on the one hand technicized and politicized through the “sustainable” label and on the other hand popularized through the extreme greening of some projects. Therefore, it seems relevant to review the basic premises underlying its meaning.
The concept of green architecture has a history, with its often misunderstood heroes. This history intersects the one involving issues of overpopulation, density and the general economy of resources. The 1970s saw the beginnings of alternative architecture, which sought different economies based on self-construction and simple principles (earthen architecture, or architecture built with salvaged materials, and running on alternatives energy sources).
The green vocabulary, one long defended by James Wines, and which still seemed fairly marginally used until a few years ago, has now been seized upon by all.
The same holds true for Andrea Branzi, who originated the principle of mixed territorial scales, proposing a harmonious blending of agricultural and urban territories with Agronica (1994), and whose ideas have been widely adopted. The vegetal is not a priori contextual; nature must be “natured”, i.e. produced. In our societies it has become the subject of a veritable industrialization, something the architect must integrate as a primordial element of the program — a practice that has been developed in the generic projects of Nicholas Grimshaw (Eden Project, 2001), Adriaan Geuze, West 8 (Leidsche Rijn Park, 1997), and Ken Yeang (Editt Tower, 1998).