Let’s talk about Sustainability, about Sustainable Architecture or Eco-Architecture. We could say that our world it’s divided between those who respect the planet and try to protect it, and those who simply live in it. What makes the difference between them? The capacity of showing solidarity with the place we inhabit, our home. The hard part, as being said lately, it’s to believe in what isn’t obvious, in what we can’t see or prove. The denial of anthropogenic climate change belongs to a skeptical scientific trend that supports the theory of global warming not being the consequence of our behavior.
If we are able to interact with the digital world and to adapt ourselves to the new technologies, aren’t we able to see that each year our planet it’s warmer, or that the ecosystem has changed? At this inflection point, it seems clear that climate change is the result of centuries of biological changes of our planet. On the other hand, it remains difficult to accept that the whole world belongs to us. Many believe that “it doesn’t belong to anyone”, when it actually belongs to us all.
From ancient times, we have been building on this planet with basic materials such as soil, stone and mud. Industrialization came afterwards and now we are going back to the origins: we are building up modern structures as an ecological alternative to help the planet. In that sense, sustainable architecture as an architectural trend itself is leading the design and construction of modern and smart buildings through the new path of eco-architecture. Let’s contribute to build a better world by supporting the role of the architects in their quest to build sustainable projects.
Sustainable Architecture or Eco-Architecture
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A Hotel to Host Nature
One of the most sustainable constructions created so far is the 1 Hotel Central Park in New York, built by Avroko Architecture. It’s a natural shelter in the middle of Manhattan that summons a green and unique experience for its hosts. Its design and interiors were inspired on the architectonic trend of eco-architecture or sustainable architecture, which offers a great alternative to the busy lifestyle of New York City. Its interior design was in charge of Kemper Hyers’ team; landscaping was imagined by the minds behind Harrison Green –a Damian Harrison’s studio–, and all the green details surrounding the hotel were installed under the direction of Kemper Hyers, including the Brooklyn Glass terrarium. As a point of departure, the design used the original industrial structure of the building to bring in the concept of nature to enhance its flawless beauty.
The many materials used to offer a green experience to the guests include wood, bricks, marble, stones and glass, all combined with steel beams and concrete ceilings. Every detail was ecologically designed with natural elements of all sorts. Nature itself made its way all around the corridors; meanwhile, recovered wooden beams decorate the bedrooms; and the seats upon enormous windows integrated along the façade allow guests to interact with the city in an extremely comfortable natural space from within their rooms, the ideal place to enjoy a good book or to reflect in the intimacy of our room at the core of The Big Apple. The building procedure complies with the Green LEED regulations and every aspect of the building was designed with that aim.
Everything was planned to help guests feel themselves in a natural environment while promoting ecological consciousness. Its location, near Central Park which is the biggest green space of Manhattan, invites guests to see and enjoy Nature at a price of over $499 per night of course.
Photos: Avroko website
Location: Manhattan, New York
San Francisco Wants to Surpass its LEED Platinum Certificates
Another sustainable building that worth talking about is the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters (SFPUC), the administrative building of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, developed by kmd Architects. The edifice, built under the terms of the sustainable architecture trend or eco-sustainability, has 13 floors and was purposely designed to hold a long time commitment with energy savings. San Francisco City has committed to achieve the goal of being recognized for nurturing many sustainable buildings of this kind: the ones that both take care of the environment and stay being practical.
The water and electricity supply systems are focused on recycling and sustainability because they possess great systems of natural lightning and waste-waters recycling. The sustainable design was developed to accomplish the LEED Platinum Certificate. It even produces the 7% of it’s own energetic requirements through different kinds of renewable energy sources, as photovoltaic and aeolic energy. It’s estimated that it will help to save $118 millions in energetic costs and will require 45% less of energy because of its interiors lightning.
The SFPUC headquarters accommodates more than 900 employees, a data center in the inferior level, a daycare, and a coffee shop. The SFPUC estimates that the construction and property of their new head office will allow the department to provide savings to the taxpayers around of $3.7 thousand millions during the next 100 years of the building’s life. Also, with the intention of promoting the eco-sustainable lifestyle with the new urban space, it provides a big parking lot for bicycles well equipped with bike racks.
Its construction used material such as natural stones, and the lightning was taken care of by using natural light through shelves and exterior blinds with controlled acclimatization. The north façade was designed to take advantage of the predominant winds of the area and to maximize the potential of generating energy with aeolic turbines. The Arup consultancy on sustainability matters developed the main energy model of the building and made the transference analysis of the façade’s energy.
Water consumption is 60% inferior than in other buildings of similar sizes. The structure uses a system called “Living Machine”, which recycles all the humidity residuals to satisfy the 100% demand of toilets and urinals of low flow. It also counts with an absolutely innovative auto-regulating system of temperature that allows an efficient cooling of the interior spaces.
Type of Project: Office
Building or Floor Level Surface: 27.500 square feets
Total cost of the project at its conclusion, surroundings excluded: $ 146,500,000.00
A (Kind of) Natural Lifestyle
Lastly, another project of big significance directed towards the sustainable architecture trend it’s the construction of Ideo Morph 38, located in Bangkok, Thailand, and executed by Somodoon Architects. Placed on a residential area, the development it’s divided in two towers, each one oriented to different kind of tenants. Visually both towers are connected through a fold or “rind” that surrounds both a frontal and a backside tower. This sort of rind it’s a mixture of pre-manufactured concrete panels and a wall of plants which combines nature with a great ecological functionality. This kind of skin also provides solar protection and even adapts itself to the visibility from inside the building. The rinds of the east and the west sides transform themselves in a green wall that displays an enjoyable natural environment to the neighbours and residents.
Ideo Morph 38 it’s a project developed by Ananda Development, placed in Soi 68/1 Santi Suk, khwaeng Phra Khanong, Khet Khlong Toei, Krung Thep MahaNakhon 10110. Ananda Development it’s also responsible for the creation of ideo Q Phayathai, ideo Mobi Sathorn and Ideo Verve Ratchaprarop. The construction of Ideo Morph 38 was completed in 2012. The complex of apartments has 2 buildings with 10 floors and 361 households.
The frontal tower it’s build for singles or young couples, because they’re smaller and cozier, ideal for this kind of tenants. In contrast, the other tower emphasises its design in horizontal spaces and and projects that are directed to families, with great views that look after the union with the external space.
Photos: Somodoon Architects
Title: IDEO Morph 38
Construction Lands: Soi Sukhumvit 38, Bangkok, Thailand
Dates: Design started at: Diciembre 2008, Construction started at: Septiembre 2009 Completed: January 2013
Cost: 1.000 Million
Architectonic Design: Somdoon Architects
Construction Manager: MJR Gestión