Our mission is to design against extinction. The Monarch butterfly of North America is a species at risk. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services is currently assessing whether the Monarch needs to be granted “endangered species” status, while their population erodes due to the combined forces of agrochemicals and habitat loss.
The Monarch Sanctuary (Lepidoptera terrarium) will be eight stories of new commercial construction in Nolita, NYC. Programmatically, the building space will mostly contain retail and office life. Yet central to its purpose is a semi-porous breeding ground, waystation, and vertical meadow for the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). It is a pioneering building facade – one that aims to be ecologically generous, weaving butterfly conservation strategies into its design through the integration of open Monarch habitat in its cavity, roof, and atrium. Not just a building envelope, the edifice is a new biome of coexistence for people, plants, and insects.
The natural vent double-skin street façade, with a diagrid structure infilled glass at the outer layer and with fly-ash impregnated 3D printed concrete at the inner layer, encloses a careful climate - controlled space, 3’ deep. This operable vertical meadow serves as an incubator and safe haven for Monarchs in all seasons. It contains suspended milkweed vines and flowering plants to nourish the butterflies at each stage of their life cycle. Butterflies can come and go as they need from inside the building skin system and roof. On the roof there is a pollinator garden and education center.
The building is intended to serve as an object lesson in enhancing the urban environment with green technologies, in designing for other species, and in conveying images of new possibilities for the urban environment. This project alone will not save the Monarch but it will crucially raise awareness about our much-loved insect residents.
Credits: Terreform ONE, Mitchell Joachim, Vivian Kuan, Christian Hubert, Nicholas Gervasi, James Leonard, Maria Aiolova, Kristina Goncharov, Lisa Richardson, Larissa Belcic, Anna Bokov, Dan Baker , Deniz Onder , Sabrina Naumovski , Zack Saunders, Nina Anker , Shahira Hammad , Zhan Xu , Simone Rothman , Xinye Lin , Jules Pepitone , Theo Dimitrasopoulos , Yucel Guven