A City Block Sized "Magic City Rainforest" Biome in Downtown Birmingham, AL
Join the movement to launch the building of a sustainable geo-thermal, solar powered Rainforest Biome Greenhouse on top of a 4 story parking deck covering a city block in Downtown Birmingham, AL.
Birmingham's-Magic-City-Rainforest is the evolving masterplan of a public facility to entertain, educate and inspire appreciation and awareness of the benefits of a Rainforest Biome Greenhouse in Downtown Birmingham.
A social goal is to attract visitors to Birmingham, acclaimed as "The Magic City" for it's robust growth as the Pittsburg of the South. The MCRF plan addresses global concerns for conservation, environmental study, research and development of new and effective medicines derived from tropical rainforest plants. The University of Alabama in Birmingham, UAB Biomedical Research could have a near campus laboratory for rare herbs and tropical plants.
The Brits Did it and Birmingham, AL Can Too!
Birmingham's-Magic-City-Rainforest will be an unforgettable experience in a breathtaking location; a global garden; a place of beauty and wonder. Locally designed architecture and art draws inspiration from nature.
The Teams report to the Board, who report to the Trustees, who ensure we meet our charitable aims. In the early days there was a handful of us, now there are many. We do all kinds of stuff: art, science, horticulture, education, management, retail, catering, philosophy, maths, economics, design, construction, publishing, research, housekeeping, stewarding, guiding, fundraising, storytelling, marketing, media and lots more.
Our site is an international visitor attraction with a difference, and not only because it’s downtown Birmingham,AL. Our mission is to provide a stage on which we entertain and communicate both our work and that of others. Most importantly we want to give you a good day out by taking you on a journey that is memorable and inspiring. Everything links together – from what we grow, to what we cook and what we sell.
Everything we do is underpinned by the Foundation, the team which keeps a close eye on our integrity. The Foundation explores ideas, develops projects, education programs and creative interpretation programs. These marry horticulture, architecture, construction, art and creativity, science and technology. It looks at new approaches, makes new alliances and dares to experiment and ask the big, difficult questions. The Foundation doesn’t reproduce what others already do well. Rather, it works with a network of organizations worldwide to complement their work and bring different perspectives and ideas to the table.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's most visited free attraction and features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S. 350,000 visitors flock to it's exotic environment every year.
With input of best practices, an organic and sustainable plan to manifest the desired outcome will be submitted tohttp://www.prize2thefuture.org for consideration March 11, 2011. So vote your support of this worthwhile idea by posting your comments and suggestions below.
It's an ambitious but realistic idea that could work and sustain itself with proper planning and your input and support.
Support the idea of building Magic City Rainforest Downtown Birmingham, AL
Post your comments in support of building a sustainable 4 story Rainforest Greenhouse on a city block in Downtown Birmingham, AL. Your post will help this worthy idea become reality. Up to 4 pics optional. Some HTML is ok. Embed Your Video!
The first major factor is how do we build a building that will duplicate the tropics but do it in Birmingham, Alabama? Birmingham is in the heart of Dixie where the weather isn't terribly cold. The winter temperatures can easily drop well below freezing for weeks at a time so the building has to keep the plants warm and humid but also give them all the light they need to develop, grow and reproduce. The major problem is to build such a building on a tight budget.
There are many companies who build "sun rooms", and that type of structure may work. The cost of having one built could exceed $2 million US dollars. We could build our Magic City Rain Forest for about 40% that cost using professional labor for the structure. We could build it within budget by using a great deal of volunteer labor. The value of the adult plants to be installed could easily equal the original cost of the structure.
Using a really good thermal material that will do the job, not break the bank, and will last a very long time while withstanding hail storms.
GE Lexan Thermoclear™ is one highly recommended thermal material. There are a lot of materials out there including Lexan corrugated material. but the multi-walled Thermoclear™ is one of the best values. Experience has proven it works great double walled and around 1/4 inch thick. It works quite well but the triple wall version may be a better long term solution. Heating expense each month in the middle of winter to heat a 600 square foot atrium to a minimum of 55 degrees could pay for the difference in wall thickness in five years. During the day, so long as the sun is shining, the GE Lexan Thermoclear™ will create enough heat energy from sunlight to keep the atrium comfortable. But when the sun falls we have to rely on some type of artificial heat to do the job.
General Electric's Lexan Thermoclear™ will help hold the heat in during the night but one of its best properties is its ability to create heat from light during the day. With the rising price of natural gas and other fuels, especially electricity, the thicker material can save a bundle on overall heating costs. When it gets in the 20's, and lower, the thicker material will save even more every month! The double wall may work just fine but at least consider spending the extra on the thicker, more protective, and more efficient material. Lexan Thermoclear™ and information about its uses are on the General Electric website and they give names and phone numbers of dealers who sell it.
Lexan Thermoclear™ comes in either 4 x 8 foot or 4 x 12 foot sheets and is easily installed. An atrium of pressure treated cedar 2 x 6's atop a concrete foundation set 18 inches (46cm) into the ground could work. For maximum support there is one large 6 x 8 inch pressure treated cedar timber in the center of the room with another 6 x8 cedar cross beam running from the east to west wall to tie the entire building together. The the center support beam is sunk in two feet or concrete.
For a more beautiful structure there are companies including General Electric that make metal frames that allow the Lexan Thermoclear™ to be simply inserted into slots within those structures. With Lexan Thermoclear™ you can even make the walls curve slightly.
Lexan Thermoclear™ is sealed with clear Silicone sealant. Once the Lexan is attached thin strips of cedar were applied to the seams to seal them further and make the exterior of the building look more professional. The tiny gaps between sheets MUST be sealed with silicone sealant. If you leave the seams unsealed the Thermoclear™ will loose efficiency and mold will form between the doubled layers of the exterior walls.
The Magic City Rainforest could be 4 stories tall at the highest point with a 2 story outer wall height. Many plants have already outgrown their home at the Birmingam Botanical Garden.
A metal grid framework is recommended to contain a highly tropical environment. The interior moisture and humidity will remain high year round.
Financial, Social & Environmental Sustainability
Be sure to also prepare for plenty of ventilation, especially during the summer, using lots of covered fans. Tropical species do not appreciate sitting in dormant air any time of the year. They need adequate circulation all the time! Dormant air, combined with high humidity, is a guarantee of plant disease and unwanted pests! So insure the air is moving at all times.
Exhaust fans on temperature controlled timers that begin to run when the temp near the ceiling hits 80 degrees are needed. These help to evacuate the excess heat during the summer months. Those exhaust fans have automatic closures which prevent heat from escaping in the winter as well as cool Spring and Fall evenings. They also have manual on/off switches to prevent heat from being evacuated in the winter. That type exhaust fan is commonly available at home renovation stores. Standard greenhouse construction works very well for a tropical atrium provided you insure a very high humidity.
For winter heat, we use natural gas and Geo-Thermal to reduce fumes within the atrium that conflict with the plants ability to grow.
Plan to make the walk even wider at least in some places. Plants tend to grow in over the walk and make it appear narrower that it is. And in a wheelchair, even four feet is difficult to turn around or negotiate tight corners.
The big secret to making your tropical plants grow as they do in the jungle is the soil mixture, designing the room to hold in humidity, and the amount of water you plan to give them. Spent a lot of time preparing the soil before the first plant goes in the ground.
Birmingham's-Magic-City-Rainforest/178535965519054 will be surrounded with a large rock wall with terraces and an enormous waterfall down the center! The technique is known as a "wet wall". A small water pump is used to pump water to the top of the wall which is filled with rock and sphagnum moss. Climbing plants such as Philodendron sp. and Anthurium sp. will grab hold of the damp rocks and climb just as they do in the rain forest! The Magic City Rainforest should have one!
A pond is an absolute must. Rain forest plants need the humidity and a nice pond with a waterfall will keep the humidity high all the time.
The waterfall in the atrium should run at approximately 12,000 gallons an hour when the filters are newly cleaned. Our atrium should rarely drop below 85% humidity. In the morning water drips off the ceiling all over the building. In addition, our atrium must have a complete overhead misting system which operates on an auto timer. Our system should meet the standards of the International Aroid Society.
The pond is also a great place to grow tropical water lilies. The pond must be kept from being totally covered over by large plants which will block the sunlight.
Birmingham's-Magic-City-Rainforest/178535965519054 will also have the natural sounds of the rain forest to add to our complete rainforest experience. A set of waterproof speakers will play natural rain forest sounds from a variety of sources and play them almost all day long on a rotating schedule. Night recordings of jungles in Costa Rica include tree frogs and an occasional howling monkey. A great source for many different rain forest
recordings is Listening Earth. You can listen to samples on their website at: http://www.listeningearth.com.au/ Don't forget the natural ambience of rain forest animals. Some very nice South American Andes reed flute music with the sounds of rain forest birds in the background could be very restful when you are in
A few tree frogs and small lizards (anoles) really add to the joy and experience of being in a rain forest. The Magic City Rainforest live animals must be provided for their nutritional needs! Baby crickets once a month for frogs and lizards to stay fat. The crickets need cat food or fish flakes so they will grow and chirp at night. Since cat food is full of protein the crickets eat the protein and pass it along to the frogs and lizards. Crickets can be ordered from a number of sources on the internet. The listening experience created by the crickets is also incredible! They are simple to keep healthy in an artificial rain forest.
However, Macaws are notorious for chewing on anything and everything including rare plants! Large species, such as macaws and cockatoos, would certainly chew everything. Many birds seem to prefer the security of their cages
The ponds can be filled with blooming water lilies and many tropical fish.