Transforming Communities

Designing a Self-Sustaining Development

Can we create a prototype for how we develop communities? Our goal is to research and discover the individual components that are necessary to devise a neighborhood framework in order to cultivate environments that are based on mutual reliance, healing and revitalization. The intent is to understand the elements necessary to create a successful sustainable community that doesn’t just respond to the environment, but that improves the life of every human that it engages.

The organizing principles of the framework perform on a macro level, yet begin on a micro level with the individual. While environmental stewardship may start as an individual act or choice, it has a far greater impact on our society as a whole. Perhaps the greatest value of sustainable living is indeed the positive impact it has on people and on the way we live and live together. The world has never before been so closely tied together, highlighting that the activities of one country (both positive and negative) have an almost immediate rippling effect around the globe.

The fact that we participate in a global society should inspire us to think more holistically and more creatively; to incorporate the blended ideas of sustainability as a way of living that, if addressed correctly, will indeed have a profound impact on the stability of the global community. Armed with this common understanding, we can begin to heal our planet for ourselves and our future generations.

It is with this optimism that we embraced the design for the Entangled Bank, a project that highlights that it’s not so much about the individual part as it is about how all the parts support one another for common and shared goals. We can be better by the influence of those around us. We can grow by being open minded and more accepting of our collective fate. We must take personal responsibility and realize that our individual actions often have an effect on others.

The Entangled Bank reflects a faith in our future and celebrates the idea that we are much greater when we work as a whole than we ever could be as separated and individual parts.

Entangled Bank Concept

Darwin’s Entangled Bank is a complex network made of simple elements. Each piece, whether it is the bird, the plant, the worm or the soil, personally contributes to the growth and ultimate survival of the whole. They are all different from one another but each is very dependent on the other. Without them the bank would unravel and fail.

A very personal cycle of life persists within the network. Starting with conception, continuing with growth, and ultimately flourishing, the bank itself is meant to sustain and offer every opportunity for its constituents to succeed.

What if we not only sought to teach and educate about the importance of sustainable living, out of respect for the environment, but we actually sustained and rehabilitated those among us who were struggling? What if we welcomed them back within the comfort of the Entangled Bank and as they grew and flourished we watched them begin to contribute to the bank themselves? It is our belief that true sustainability relates not only to the environment but also has key economic and social impacts.

This project develops a network that creates opportunity and supports those that flourish, and rehabilitates those that have withered. It explores numerous ways of implementing new and innovative sustainable strategies that appreciate – and strive to improve – the natural environment. Perhaps even greater, this project seeks to sustain what might be our richest and most influential resource…the human. All too often we focus on changing the effect without reviewing the cause.


Rising up from a transformative base is a series of horizontal green spaces and vertical farms. They create a vegetative framework that physically holds the bank together and also provides sustenance by creating spaces for social interaction, production of food and collection of resources. Similar to how seeds from grain are dispersed by wind, the residential units are embedded within this framework creating the community of living for the development.

Meandering Path

By definition a meandering path is to proceed by or take a winding or indirect course. Though the course isn’t direct, there are lessons learned even in moments when one’s way is lost. In our project it represents the human aspects of the Entangled Bank.

Whereas in nature the bank is made of soil, plants and organisms, the meandering path relies on a network of education, retail, dining, entertainment and wellness activities to sustain and rehabilitate the human spirit. By providing venues where those in need can be taught and transformed, it becomes the link, both figuratively and physically, between those in need and the surrounding community.


Our research focused on discovering the components necessary to create and enhance “community”.

Design Evolution

The overall building form is organic in shape and promotes future growth and development of the bank. The tower component becomes an icon of this growth. Reaching upward, it also includes vertical wind turbines and a series of sky pastures that support a communal resource and food need.

Ultimately, the bank serves as a communal meeting space where an exchange of ideas, of apprenticeship and of produce takes place. The tower beacons its surrounding community to participate in the evolution of the bank – transforming with the seasons, sharing resources and then dispersing, leaving the bank to sustain itself while conveying ideas of a sustainable future to a new place.


Sustainability Fitness & Yoga – The interaction of physical exertion and balance within is provided on the roof of the seventh floor, overlooking the grain field.

Destination Spa – The Entangled Bank provides culinary, nutritional, medical and environmental learning programs which are completed with the physical relaxation of the destination spa, located on the ground floor.

Holistic Medicine – Similar to sustainability in an environmental context, the human body is composed of facets that rely on those surrounding it for existence and survival. The implementation of this medical theory along the meandering path reinforces the essence of this site.

Green Roof / Grain Field – An ‘intensive green roof system’ on the roof of the fourth floor provides seasonal vegetation for the feeding of the animal life on the site.

Water Runoff – Glass ponds, viewed from below, are situated on the elevated park to contain the water runoff not captured by the surrounding vegetation.

Day-Care / “The Nursery” – Day-care facilities, located on the second floor with daily access to the elevated park, encourage the development of a child’s mind and introduce them to the natural social interaction that occurs in any environment while illustrating the balance of a certain process or state in any system.

Green Roof / Elevated Park – An ‘intensive green roof system’ is the base structure of the elevated park, providing an environment appropriate for the germination, growth and sustainability of nature.

Sky Pasture – Many traditional pastoral practices have had to adapt to changing circumstances of the modern world. This site proves the ability to provide a pasture in any surrounding.

Vertical Farm – A vertical farm is provided at the base of the tower whose height is only restricted by the tower it supports. Each resident has access to the vertical landscape to grow the produce for their consumption and to sell at the local market below.

Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (building) – The electricity generated by this wind speed system is used for core demands such as common lighting and retail tenant spaces.

‘The Market’ – Located in the center of the meandering path, the doors rise in the morning for the trading of goods and services. At night, the doors remain hidden while the community gathers for musical, theatrical and educational entertainment.

Slow Food Restaurant – Located at the entrance to the meandering path, the Slow Food restaurant is focused on the freshness and wholeness of ingredients, the care and craft with which they are handled and the enjoyment of the taste.

Organic Culinary Institute – Located adjacent to the Organic Farm Institute and Slow Food restaurant, the Organic Culinary Institute will provide students with valuable hands on training as well as a comprehensive knowledge of cooking and baking, leadership skills and business skills.

Organic Farming Institute – Located on the first floor along the meandering path and using the grain field as a classroom, the program provides focus on soil types, systematic management of plant pests, organic livestock and poultry management.

Organic Grocery – The placement of a local organic grocery store with quaint neighborhood qualities sells produce grown on the site as well as that provided by local organic farmers throughout the area.

Live / Work – Located on the outer shell of the Entangled Bank, the two story space overlooks the stairs that provide direct access to the public.

Nutritional Institute – The mission of the Nutritional Institute is to provide educational programs within the Entangled Bank for people of all ages to become healthier and maintain the highest level of physical, mental and emotional confidence.

Environmental Learning Lab and Nutritional Institute – Subjects to be researched and shared with the community include what is needed to achieve the recommended daily allowances of the necessary nutrients and the effects of poor soil quality, toxins, pollution, stress, and the over processing and cooking of food.