All posts by brent

About brent

Brent founded the Hyphae Design Laboratory in February 2008; “the lab” is a consulting and design firm dedicated to bridging the gap between architecture and biological sciences. Brent is also an active member of greenmeme, an artistic design firm based in Los Angeles and The Chlorophyll Collective, an environmental education group based in Oakland, California. From 2005-2008, Brent served as the design director at Rana Creek, an ecological restoration and design firm based in Carmel Valley, California. Brent’s work included the design of large-scale living roofs, ecological landscapes, rainwater catchment systems, living walls, greywater systems and constructed wetlands. Hit me up if interested about the world before that.

Madrid’s ‘Air Tree’


Winner of the 2004 ‘Eco Boulevard‘ competition held by the Madrid Municipal Housing Corporations Residential Innovation Office [that's a mouthful], Urban Ecosystems’Air Tree‘ project consists of 3 pavilions situated within a 500 meter by 50 meter boulevard.


Designed as the initial ‘attraction’ for the site, the pavilions have been conceptualized as a ‘prosthesis’ – around which social interaction/revitalization, plant life, and future spaces can grow. The structures are therefore temporary – acting merely as a magnet to draw new life to the site. The boulevard will be gradually filled with trees and plant-life, until such a time when ‘air-conditioned spaces are no longer needed, when the area becomes fixed’. The pavilions will then be dismantled – leaving behind a void in the new growth [images above].


A light, easily assembled/dismantled [and recyclable!] structure, the ‘Air Tree‘ is energy self-sufficient – using only the power it can capture through a number of photovoltaic panels. Any energy not used by the pavilions themselves is sold back to the grid, the proceeds from which go to maintain this new urban park.


While the boulevard will eventually grow into a park – these ‘Air Trees‘ will work to do the same job as the trees will in the future. Along with providing a defined, shaded place to congregate [like the base of a tree], the pavilions will actually condition the air. Within the metallic screen/skin of the ‘Air Trees‘ is a layer of plantings – small trees running around the perimeter of the pavilions.

…[there are] simple air conditioning systems installed in the air tree. They are evapotranspirators. This is a natural way to air condition a space, not a part of commercial strategy. Rather, it creates naturally conditioned spaces between 8-10°C cooler than the surrounding streets where the residents can take active part in the public domain [via].


And oh yeah – they look pretty ill too. They should build some of these bad-boys here in the Bean, on that no-man’s-land the Big Dig has left us…

::For more interesting/provocative ‘green‘ projects, visit ecosistema urbano – additional information for this post via Greenline::

Video Sundays: Building Green


Watch JD and her husband Steve turn a house from the 1920′s into a ‘green’ home – and learn how you could do the same! The material that most grabbed my attention – the roof shingles made from recycled rubber tires, that are made to look just like slate. Crazy. Not sure that ‘fake’ slate shingles are all that cool, but shingles from recycled tires [which, are gross], is pretty awesome.


::Video Sundays is a weekly feature here on Green.MNP. For more ‘green’ videos, click on any Sunday in the sidebar calendar – or on the ‘YouTube’ category in the ‘save the planet’ section. Additional videos that have been featured on any of the MNP sites can be found here on our YouTube page::

Jacques Ferrier : Hypergreen


The Hypergreen tower, designed by Jacques Ferrier for a competition in Paris, is a 250 meter / 60 storey tall mixed-use ‘green’ building [hence 'hypergreen']. The building’s structure emerges as an intricate concrete lattice system, wrapping the facade in the woven pattern and allowing for the floorplates to be nearly column free. This structural system also creates an interesting intermediate space between the building’s glazing, where Ferrier has apparently planned for some exterior gardens / greenery.


What makes the Hypergreen tower green, you ask [other than the name]? How about its:

  • geothermal heat pumps
  • photovoltaic panels
  • integrated wind turbines [seen at the top of the building]
  • earth cooling tubes
  • vegetated sky lobbies
  • a roof garden
  • rainwater recovery system

…and the aforementioned flexible / adaptable column-free floor plates.



::images from Jacques Ferrier Architecte, project via Jetson Green::

::listen to the podcast::

Breathing Earth


Created by David Bleja [AKA Stillwater], Breathing Earth shows the impact that countries all over the world have on climate change – in particular their CO2 emissions. Check it out to get a better idea who’s emitting what – and head on over to the Earth Day Network to measure you ‘eco footprint’ [this ninja scored a '10', which means we'd need 2.2 earths to sustain life if everyone lived like me - and I don't even have a car].

Hybrid Solar Lighting


Lighting is a HUGE drain on power all over the world – with people leaving their home lights on at all times, retail spots actually needing lighting for such large portions of the day, and many buildings just never having their lights turned out [because of how long it takes them to heat up or something? seems like a stupid reason to me...].

So what’s the solution? Turn off the lights when you leave a room, set timers, use energy efficient lamps, etc etc etc…all great suggestions. A better solution tho, for those buildings that need lighting during the daylight hours, is to actually harness the light of the sun – and redirect it into your interiors.

We bring you “Hybrid Solar Lighting‘, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s ‘Solar Technologies Program’ – fiber optics that are connected to a ‘solar collector’ [which tracks the sun's position throughout the day], which filters the visible light into a fiber optic receiver. These fiber optics are then fed throughout the building, and the natural sunlight is blended with the standard florescent interior lighting – creating a more natural lighting condition within the building. This is not only saving some users up to 60% on their electrical bills, but is also increasing sales in some retail spaces [40% more?], and helping to address issues such as S.A.D. [seasonal effective disorder].


Neil M. Denari Architects: U+A House


One serious problem with housing [especially the suburbs] is sprawl – or, simply put, the fact that we’re taking up an ever increasing footprint on the land. Not only is this an issue because of lack of space [Earth is plenty big, but we will run out of land, my ninjas], but it’s also forming a disconnect between people [you live in a house, on your property, drive to work alone in a car passing everyone/thing at 40mph, work, then go back to your personal space] as the population spreads.

One answer? Build vertically. This solution has already been presented in our cities, as we see everyday in skyscrapers and highrises – but what about on a smaller scale? Enter the U+A House, a mini-highrise designed by Neil M. Denari Architects for Useful and Agreeable [U+A].


consider the desirability and precision engineering of great car design; the exploration and challenge of contemporary art; and the bold expressiveness of avant-garde fashion. where are the architectural equivalents?

useful + agreeable offers one option in this regard, the opportunity to purchase a pre-designed house by world-renowned architect, neil m. denari.

the u+a house is a flexible, universal product, designed for a variety of contexts and climates around the world, including: small-lot or cluster housing, remote vacation property and rooftop penthouses among other possibilities [via U+A].


I have to admit, I’m not sold on the design exactly – something about the aesthetic is a little dentist’s office meets time capsule for me – but the concept is pretty ill. Prefab housing that can be customized like any car, and shipped out in the fraction of the time of a typical house is always cool – but turning them upright to preserve space? Brilliant in its simplicity, if you ask me.
::Info + images from u+a, via MoCo Loco::

cape [cod] wind


It’s apparently NOT too late to save ‘Cape Wind’ – the offshore wind farm proposed for Cape Cod, MA. The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) released a 2,000-page environmental impact assessment of the project and found it would cause no major problems for birds, wildlife, ship and air traffic, and recreation [which were the NIMBY's arguments against the project]. Now its time to act! Click the title of this post to sign a petition to help build Cape Wind!