Fantasy to Reality: Twisting Tree-Covered Callebaut Tower Taking Shape

We’ve seen lots of dazzling concepts by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, most of which seem far too fanciful to ever actually materialize, but his twisting high-rise tower in Taipei is finally taking shape in three dimensions. ‘Tao Zhu Yin Yuan’ is about halfway complete, pivoting on a central axis for a layout that enables outdoor space brimming with greenery on every floor. Scheduled for completion in September 2017, the residential tower will support 23,000 trees absorbing up to 130 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.



The tower is conceived as a ‘inhabited tree,’ set upon a circular footprint with towers extending from the core in a double helix shape. From the north or south, it looks like a pyramid, while east and west views give onlookers a fuller idea of the building’s scale. It will contain 40 luxury apartments and additional facilities, and is set to meet LEED gold status as well as diamond-level Low Carbon Building Alliance certification.



Callebaut is known for proposals that emphasize sustainability, self-sufficiency, the inclusion of vegetation and eye-popping shapes. Examples include his dragonfly-wing-shaped urban farm, the Lilypad floating city concept, the ‘Asian Cairns’ residential towers and a series of futuristic ‘smart towers’ aiming to reduce pollution and create renewable energy while integrating into existing built environments.


Most of these concepts either appear too wild and expensive to developers and investors to inspire confidence for real-world success, or rely on theoretical technology that hasn’t been fully developed or proven. But nobody can accuse Callebaut of limiting his own creativity in the way he envisions the future of architecture, in a world where the choices we make for our cities directly impact our ability to withstand the consequences of climate change.


“In 2050, we will be 9 billion of human beings on our blue planet and 80% of the world population will live in megacities,” says Callebaut. “It’s time to invent new eco-responsible lifestyles and to repatriate the nature in our city in order to increase the quality of our life with respect of our environment.”