Carlo Ratti proposes climate-controlled 'Garden of Four Seasons' for new Milan neighbourhood

As climate change might become more extreme, the importance of envisioning strategies for climate remediation will increase dramatically
– Carlo Ratti

One of the largest urban regenerations in Europe is set to be anchored by a public garden where spring, summer, autumn and winter coexist together throughout the year.

The concept, called ‘Garden of the Four Seasons’, comes from the studio of designers, researchers and innovators Carlo Ratti Associati, and is being developed by property firm CityLife for a 366,000sq m (4 million sq ft) district in the west of Milan.

The 2,500 sq m (27,000sq ft) attraction has been designed for the Fiera di Milano, where architects Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki and Daniel Libeskind have visualised a residential, commercial and business district on the site of an old exhibition hall complex.

The plants in the garden would be maintained by a zero-net-energy climate control system, based on a concept by Dr. Barbara Römer, founder of the creative consultancy Studio Römer.

Hundreds of vegetable species are planned to be housed under a transparent, responsive membrane that uses sensors to open and close in order to regulate the environment.

Incoming solar energy would be partially collected through photovoltaic cells and redistributed among the different seasonal areas. According to the design team, by constantly adjusting lighting levels and heat, the system will allow plants to follow the different seasonal cycles.

“Thanks to a heat exchanger, energy can be used to cool space in the winter area, or to heat the summer space,” they said. “The system works much like a refrigerator would do, with cold coming out from one side, and heat from the opposite one. Further heat transfer between pavilions, when necessary, allows each one to achieve the desired intermediate environmental


Digital sensors would also measure the quantity of water, temperature, humidity and nutrients needed by each vegetable species, and this information would be made visible to visitors in real-time in the form of “tweets” coming from the plants about their status.

Studio chief Carlo Ratti said: “As climate change might become more extreme, the importance of envisioning strategies for climate remediation will increase dramatically. This was our inspiration behind the ‘Four Seasons Garden’, in which we usher in a technique for a sustainable and emphatic Internet of Plants.”

His practice have previously explored climate products and services with their Cloud Cast, a system using motion tracking and ceiling-mounted misting elements to provide people with a cloud of direct and localized cooling; and Sun&Shade, a digitally-operated reflecting canopy that provides shading, climate adaptation and green energy generation in cities.

They are also trying to foster a closer relationship between urban dwellers and nature’s cycles with their planned pavilion for Italy’s FICO Eataly World, where guests can learn about food production by growing their own on-site.

Carlo Ratti  Garden of Four Seasons  architecture  design  landscape 
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