Green Roofs on City Buses

PhytoKinetic is a project by the designer Marc Grañén, which aims to energize drab public buses with vibrant, gardened roofs and contribute to the improvement of the urban ecosystem.

Grañén believes cities can use existing spaces–like the roofs of public buses–to create new pockets of greenery. PhytoKinetic is more than just a magic bus for the 21st century: it’s a practical yet inspiring vision for a greener world.

Still, the notion of putting plants atop a moving vehicle raises questions. Will the added weight reduce gas mileage? Will maintaining the plants require excessive water use? What will happen to the plants if the bus is in an accident? A similar project, Bus Roots, developed by NYU graduate student Marco Antonio Castro Cosio, drew skepticism for not fully addressing such practical concerns. And although Cosio has produced two Bus Roots prototypes, his project remains more conceptual, while Grañén ’s well-researched design is ready for wider implementation.

All practical aspects aside, Grañén believes that his buses have the power to change our relationship with the earth– to integrate urban and natural spaces. Instead of feeling separate from nature, he says, urbanites can feel closer to living, breathing plants. The notion of buses as dirty, fuel-guzzling contaminants would change: Just seeing plants hanging from a bus roof, or arriving at work in a moving garden, hopes Grañén, would begin to alter preconceptions and generate more public interest in greening our concrete jungles. “People have to think beyond these prototypes,” says Grañén . “They have to imagine a city with more green walls, roofs, buses, public buildings, even in the interiors of buildings.”

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