Purpose and Solution to an Ecological Problem The purpose of this project was to create a recreational area on the territory of the university considering temperature and soil condition and installing phyto-lighting. It aims to create a sustainable environment not only in ecological terms and maintenance, but in the perspective of architecture and appearance too. Regarding the problem related to Nazarbayev University campus, we believe there is a lack of sustainable and well designed green spaces, where students and faculty can restore their mental state. Moreover, we aim to build a space where students could learn more about the care for plants and be involved in the process of gardening. We consider this project as a beginning of a larger initiative to redesign and renovate the public spaces in the University Atrium with the involvement of student community. In the future we expect this project to continue by the students, particularly the members of student gardening club “Eden” that will transfer knowledge in plant care and design new green spaces around campus, which contributes to the development of participatory and sustainable environment on the Nazarbayev University grounds.
Project implementation The project implementation consisted of several stages like landscape design, area preparation, geoplastics, and planting. In the beginning, we proposed a design of the biome by making a 3D model of the area using SketchUp and Lumion software and the measures of the unused space between blocks 4 and 6 in the Atrium of Nazarbayev University campus. Later, we chose the most suitable plants and trees that are originally from Mediterranean climate, according to our concept, and that would comfortably fit into the ecosystem of the Atrium. The temperature in the space varies from 5-15 Celsius degrees in winter to 25-30 Celsius degrees in summer, with mostly dry air. Actually, this was the reason why we chose the biome to be Mediterranean, because the climates are very similar and the plants will not struggle to grow in uncomfortable conditions. The Figure 1 shows the initial space before our project implementation, which was previously a coffee shop that closed after the quarantine measures adopted on campus and never reopened. The Figure are the (a) 2D tree and shrub planting plan and (b) 3D visualization of the biome we made using computer software.
Results The main result of our project is the completed Mediterranean biome, a short area garden with the plants that are grown in the Mediterranean region, along with the relaxation area in the middle of the garden in the space between 4th and 6th blocks in the university Atrium. As with every landscape design project, it is expected that this area will be consistently taken care of, whereas the campus residents and visitors will use this space for relaxation/meeting purposes. The final result is shown in photo gallery. The biome consists of several Mediterranean plants, particularly Chlorophytum, Ficus Benjamina, Asparagus setaceus, Sansevieria, etc. Moreover, we used phyto lamps with 60 W power to provide continuous direct sunlight for the plants using ultraviolet rays, to maintain their constant growth, and to closely imitate the conditions of the Mediterranean climate. Each day the plants get the natural sunlight and consume water, while in the night the scheduled phyto lamps are turned on using automatic power supply system. We expect that the biome, with the proper care, would reach its complete capacity in 5 years.