May 5, 2011

Garden On
A Hot Tin Roof

Marco Castro
Festival of Ideas

for the New City

May 4-8, 2011

Bus Roots
May 7, 11 am- 7pm

An Interview with Marco Castro
A couple of years I explored the idea of garden inside a subway car.  When I read about the bus roof garden, I knew I wanted to get in touch Marco Castro, the designer.

PO:  Can you talk a little about your background and how you developed the idea of roof garden on the bus, known as BUS ROOTS?

MC:  I'm interested in making people interact with their environment, be engaged with it and if possible, encourage people to improve upon it.

Artists and projects that blended urban and natural elements inspired me.  They started conversations with their communities using living materials.  I was also inspired by memories of traveling with my family and my grandmother to a ranch in the countryside.  Once there, she would show me how to understand plants and their benefits they bring to society.

So I posed myself this challenge, how could I reconnect vibrant urban communities back with nature in a practical and playful way?  BUS ROOTS is the solution I propose. 

My graduate school, ITP at NYU was an invaluable support for letting me play with new ideas, experiment with technologies and materials, meet new people and allowed me to imagine new perspectives of the world around me.

I wanted to make a project that did not have to rely on electricity or involve screens that required a dark space.  I was looking for a project that was as non-invasive and on-pollutant as possible.  Something public that could involve the citizens and the spaces they use.  It would bring a sense of play and awe to the city.
I wanted to make a project that did not have to rely on electricity or involve screens that required a dark space.  I was looking for a project that was as non-invasive and on-pollutant as possible.  Something public that could involve the citizens and the spaces they use.  It would bring a sense of play and awe to the city.  It would be designed consuming the least amount of resources and if possible heal the environment.  I came to the conclusion that I wanted a project that could use plants as a medium.

Plants are the some of the most efficient organisms I could think of.  They are  great solar panels, they produce their own food, they don't produce waste, they don't pollute, they actually clean and heal the environment around them if they can.  They are great heat and sound insulators and become great food for animals and therefore, for humans.  Plus, they make our surroundings much more lively and attractive.

These are some of the reasons that go me started in thinking that BUS ROOTS could help the environment.  Roofs are typical unused spaces and green roofs, in general provide the following benefits to urban environments:

  •   diminish air pollution
  •   accoustical insulation
  •   heat insulation
  •   by lowering demand for heating and air conditioning use, less carbon dioxide is released from power plants and furnaces.
  •   habitat restoration - providing green space for new insect and animal life to live and visit.
  •   aesthetic value
  •   conserve energy
  •   storm water management, they absorb water that would other wise end up clogging the sewage system.
  •   mitigation of urban heat island effect, they can lower the temperatures and affect the microclimates in the city.
  •   Co2 Sequestration
  •   public education and recreation, they provide ways for people to understand natural life around them and ways to protect it.
  •   reclaim real estate for people to enjoy and interact with their community.

PO:  Can you talk the roof garden on the bus.  The process, the problems, the challenges.
MC:  The biggest challenge has been getting people to believe you can grow plants on buses and that there is one working prototype running around New York City.  I expect to tackle this by designing more BUS ROOTS prototypes and proposing to install it in as many buses as possible.

The plants growing right now are sedum and part of an extensive green roof system.  I am looking for lighter weight plants and to find more variety of plants. It requires very little maintenance, the plan is to have the garden be nourished by the rain and every once in a while, replenish the nutrients that might be lost.

I did want the bus drivers to turn into bus gardeners.  However, I would be happy to talk to gardeners who would want to garden on buses.

PO:  Please explain the biobus project?

MC:  The Bio Bus is an educational science lab that visits schools and learning spaces all year round.  In it, kids learn about biology and the environment.  Bio Bus is the first bus to every have a green roof, it has the first BUS ROOTS working prototype.

The first prototype covers 15 sq. ft. of the roof, it weighs 225 lbs. and has travelled to the Bronx, Long Island, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

PO:  Plans for the future?

MC: I'd like to plant more gardens, experiment with more plants and vehicles.  Perhaps, grow some edible plants.  I would also like to register carbon levels and storm water management.  In better words, I'd like to explore what does Nomadic Agriculture mean.

all photographs courtesy of marco castro.

Marco Castro is an  interaction designer graduated from the Interactive Telecommunications Program more commonly known as ITP at New York University.

"My goal is to design solutions that provide an enriching and multisensory experience."

Festival of Ideas

for the New City

May 4-8, 2011

Bus Roots
May 7, 11 am- 7pm



Shirley(clipping path) said...

Excellent idea and excellent project. Thanks for the nice post
clipping path

Zoe Condon said...

I like the bus roots project very much.
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Hanna Daniels said...

Wow, i think this is a brilliant idea - just make sure the plants being planted don't need to be watered often! Aloes might be a great plant to use.

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