Building materials and new construction, along with the operation and maintenance of buildings, account for a significant sum of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Faced with this fact, how are architects to responsibly pursue the act (and art) of architecture without further deteriorating the planet’s environmental make-up or depleting its resources?
What forms of high and low technology can be developed to curtail the injurious side of building?
Can good—or even great—architecture be sustainable?
The answer, of course, is yes. The best buildings have always shown a concern for their immediate environs and how they fit in them, whether they were conscious of “sustainability” or not. Now, all architects and buildings are expected to be engaged with sustainable standards, such as LEED titles, photovoltaic cells, or green roofs—all things that these 10 projects have in common. Check out our favorite projects in architecture + sustainability...
This translucent cabin by architects Kengo Kuma and Associates is an experimental house in Hokkaidō, Japan, designed to test the limits of architecture in cold climates.
Inspiration came from the traditional architecture of the indigenous Ainu, whose "Chise" style buildings clad with sedge or bamboo grass hold in the warmth of a central fireplace that is never allowed to burn out.
"The fundamental idea of Chise, 'house of the earth,' is to keep warming up the ground this way and retrieve the radiation heat generated from it," say the architects. The Experimental House was constructed around a coated larch frame and it has a thick layer of polyester insulation sandwiched between the polycarbonate cladding of the exterior and the glass-fibre fabric of the interior. This insulation was made using recycled plastic bottles and it allows light to pass into the house through the walls.
As the first experimental house completed for the Meme Meadows research facility, the building will be used by the environmental technology institute to test how different factors affect the thermal qualities of its construction.
Using local materials, this impressive bamboo structure features a microcosm of imaginative spaces designed for a range of playful activities.
This incredible bamboo structure, by Dutch firm 24H-architecture, is part of the Soneva Kiri eco-resort on the island of Koh Kood, Thailand. Designed as a children's activity and learning center, the fantastic interiors are bound to impress even the most stoic grown-up.
Evoking the fluid shape of a manta ray, the center is located on a rocky slope overlooking the bay, with a large canopy of bamboo shingles sheltering the open interior of "mini-structures". The structure uses locally-sourced bamboo stalks of all sizes, ranging from the large main columns that are anchored into concrete footings to the other structural members that are grouped together using nuts and bolts and natural fiber lashings.
From the architects:
The design adopts all bioclimatic aspects to suits its humid tropical environment. The roof cantilevers up to 8 metres, acting like a big umbrella providing shade and protection from the heavy rains. The open design with the translucent elevated rooftop and setback ﬂoors allow a natural airﬂow inside and the use of natural daylight, limiting the building’s energy consumption.
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