Russia’s state-controlled energy giant, Gazprom, has unveiled a new design for a major new office building it has been planning for several years in St. Petersburg. The new design proposes to use plants to control the building’s temperature.

It’s been described as the first building to be given a “green fur coat” a glass tower with double walls, in between which hundreds of trees and plants will provide heat in the winter and cooler temperatures in the summer. With temperatures in St. Petersburg rising to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer and plummeting to minus 30 in the winter, the design will be able to regulate the temperature without the need for expensive air conditioning or heating systems.

But according to a recent poll, more than 40 percent of residents thinks that would ruin the skyline of St. Petersburg, designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site. Built by Tsar Peter the Great at the start of the 18th century, its Venetian-style buildings and winding canals attract thousands of visitors every year.

But the architects say the project will revitalize a city that has been in decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Construction is planned to start later this year with completion scheduled for 2012.

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