Buses Become Urban Gardens On The Move

Green roofs are transforming cityscapes around the world, absorbing carbon emissions, reducing the urban heat island effect and offering other tangible environmental benefits.

So why limit them to buildings?

Landscape artist Marc Granen is testing a design concept, which he calls Phyto Kinetic, that brings urban gardens to the roofs of city buses. This would literally move the air freshening benefits of green roofs around the city as buses follow their routes each day.

"Urban green areas are crucial for photosynthesis, a process in which plants absorb carbon and release oxygen – vital for purifying the air we breathe," explains Granen on his organization’s website. "The lungs of a city must grow at the same rate as its population, but much-needed green areas are not always available. Phyto Kinetic has grown out of this supposition, with the goal of delivering a practical and tangible solution. If finding new urban spaces for gardens is problematic, we can use spaces that already exist, such as the roofs of city public transport.“

A demonstration vehicle is pictured below:

Phyto Kinetic

The design uses a lightweight, thin mesh of hydroponic foam that is malleable and can be easily added to the roof of a bus: weight has been an issue for similar ideas in the past, Phyto Kinetic’s approach is lighter.

A perforated stainless steel grid is installed underneath the foam in order to keep the water moving and prevent stagnation. The bus roof is treated with a waterproofing substance, AquaPro, that seals it against potential leaks.

In the summer, the water from the bus’ air-conditioning system is recycled and used to water the plants. At other times of the year, however, the roof still needs to be watered manually.

Granen envisions each city using its own combination of aromatic herbs, native ornamental plants, ivy and grasses across the roofs as appropriate for a particular climate. He is testing the concept on a small scale in Spain, with a shuttle bus transporting tourists to and from a camp site in the small village of Estarit.

In addition, a demonstration van shows off the Phyto Kinetic concept at green infrastructure conferences and landscaping shows in Europe. Potential pilots are being discussed in Barcelona and Amsterdam.

The YouTube video below explains the history of the project. (Get ready to settle for a while, it’s about 24 minutes long.)

Here’s the website:

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