Rolando Lopez Lopez

Rolando Lopez Lopez

Saint Louis, MO, US



Silvarium proposes a framework that simulates the organic growth of a forest and infuses it with the needs of sustainable vertical living. The resulting system of towers is by all means an ecosystem capable of sustaining life and sustaining itself.

The Challenge

The world’s a forest, in which all lose their way, though by a different path each goes astray.  – George Villier

 Though the word’s of Goerge Villier are centurties old, his metaphoric insights are strikingly timely.  Our global awareness has grown tremendously, and with it the expectation of a clear path to the future.  And yet, this path has unraveled amidst the debris of our own consumption.  Many have looked to alternate paths with the hopes that new strategies and technologies might solve the problems of technology.  We do not argue this approach and celebrate its potential, with the added component of looking to Villier’s words for a catalyst – to look to the forest. 

There is an undeniable link between humans and forests. Since the beginning man has coexisted with nature in harmony and unison but with the advancement of technology humanity has experienced rapid growth, a new quality of living, and the thirst to colonize new territories that are seemingly unattainable. This progress, although positive, has had many negative consequences as our consumption of resources increases each day and our environment suffers the effects of pollution due to manufacturing. Drought, rising sea levels, tsunamis, the thinning of the o-zone layer are all alarmingly becoming more and more of a threat to the planet. This cycle of growth through destruction cannot be allowed to continue or else our resources will become depleted. It is through smart design that the scale can be tipped the other way and humanity may find balance with nature and technology.

Case Study

Silvarium threads the urban fabric through a case study in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Shinjuku Station, one of the busiest rail stops in Japan, is the site of the intervention. We begin by making new ground spanning from the station and growing outwards throughout the rails. Then, a series of towers begin to grow and connect to form a network that cleans the air, produces energy, and redefines the way people interact with buildings in an urban environment.  

The constructed forest consists of four key factors: it is self-sustaining, it grows, it changes, and it reproduces. The tower can sustain itself by collecting and growing all of the supplies it needs. If the tower needs to become taller to accommodate a denser population, then its forests can be harvested for materials. The tower is intended to always be indeterminate so that it can react to changes accordingly.

In order to be self-sustaining, the system will allow for geothermal wells, pockets for urban farming, and moments for urban forests. The farms will provide food, and the forests will provide resources for building within the tower, and the geothermal wells provide power to the structure. There are reservoirs within the tower that collect rainwater for irrigation.


The project addresses the greenhouse gas and global warming issues of today. Each layer of trees in the tower serves to filter out heat and CO2 from the urban context. This filtration cycle ensures that the quality of air is maintained and that the heat island effect becomes virtually non-existent.

Towers can be inhabited as soon as the structure begins being built, and are in a constant state of construction/expansion. Many towers can grow simultaneously. Towers connect to form districts/ neighborhoods, and clusters of towers can connect to form cities. Downtowns, Midtowns, Uptowns begin to emerge and the network and culture of the city becomes interwoven with the tower.   

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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Tokyo, JP
Additional Credits: In collaboration with: Ben Vongvanij, Bryant Nguyen, Plub Warnitchai
Advisor: Mark McGlothlin