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Phyllotactic Tower Prototype Mimics Plants

Credits: ©2012 Saleh Masoumi

Architect Saleh Masoumi of Verk Studio in Iran proposes a new solution to residential skyscrapers. His designs utilize the structure similar to living plants to provide live/work units that provide “yards” for each individual unit. Known as phyllotaxis in botany, basic leaf patterns can be opposite or alternate in a spiral around the stem of the plant. Masoumi borrows this idea for his vision of apartment units that cantilever in a spiral from a service core, or stem. Each unit is two-story, with the top level comprised of an outdoor, vegetated yard. Other towers that are modeled after plants use a typical stacked floor plan, including Norman Foster’s Swiss Re Building in London or the Grand Lisboa Macao “flower” (see links below). Masoumi’s idea is to take the plant concept and make a literal leap to architecture. Please read below for Masoumi’s description of his tower design.


Phyllotactic Tower General View CROP

Proposed phyllotactic towers mimic the structure of plants with "leaves" that cantilever from a "stem" or core. Designed by architect Saleh Masoumi. ©2012 Saleh Masoumi

The following article is authored by the architect of the Phyllotactic Towers:

Phyllotactic Towers

by Saleh Masoumi ©VERK Studio

Nearly all residential towers that have been built have a common weak point: the individual residential units do not have access to the open sky above because the apartments are stacked one on top of the other and therefore do not have yards. This common characteristic of tall residential buildings has had many negative psychological consequences on people and especially on children.

From an architectural point of view, this typical weak point results from a tower design that stacks units so that the floor of an upstairs unit forms the ceiling of the downstairs, eliminating even the possibility for having yards.

A yard has been an ancient and fundamental component of human housing throughout history, but contemporary high-rise residential architecture has neglected this vital element of human housing. A house without a yard is not a house; it is an apartment unit (flat) and an apartment unit is not a natural place for human being to live, because it ignores a basic requirement of thousands of years of human life, namely yards.

Units of a phyllotactic tower do not have common floor slabs which is the essential difference between the Phyllotaxy system and Le Corbusier’s Domino system. In phyllotactic towers, each apartment unit has its own open-to-the-sky-yard, making each unit a separate house.

The requirement of having a yard for each unit of phyllotactic towers has a desirable secondary result: the surface-area-to-volume ratio of the tower reaches the maximum level for harvesting natural energy. Because of this characteristic, the contact surface of the towers to outdoors is high, so it causes high temperature fluctuations during the year (or day and night) which could cause high levels of energy loss in some climates. However, because the phyllotactic towers can harvest a maximum level of solar energy as well as utilize natural ventilation, it is possible to establish a balance between the lost and gained energy.

Studies have shown that the arrangement of leaves on a plant stem in specific patterns enable the plants to harvest maximum natural resources such as solar energy and water. In phyllotactic towers, the houses around the central core can be constructed with varied vertical and horizontal distances between the houses based on the tower’s geographical area and climatic condition. Dimer, Trimer and Tetramer arrangements are some of the architectural phyllotactic patterns as shown in the images.

Almost all parts of the phyllotactic tower have direct access to fresh air and sun light.

The houses cast the least possible amount of shadow on each other due to the phyllotactic pattern, similar to the way that leaves in plants do.

Urbanism professionals are trying to solve a complicated problem in the field of sustainability: how could a city be compact and human-friendly? How could a city be dense but still provide apartments with yards and gardens coincidently? The phyllotactic towers concept solves this dilemma of sustainability easily.

• It is difficult to impossible to estimate the negative effects on human beings of living in yard-less apartments. Presenting this prototype for residential towers that can be adapted to different climates in which all units have their own open-to-the-sky yard is new.

• If simulations and calculations show that phyllotactic towers have no weak points from a financial point of view during a 50-year period, they could create a revolution in the residential high-rise building design and urban planning - because phyllotactic towers can make dense cities in which people have yards and gardens in their apartments.

• As phyllotactic towers can be adapted to different climates, they are not limited to a restricted time or area. They can be applied broadly.

Swiss Re Building in London 

Lisboa Macao 


Phyllotactic Towers © VERK Studio