Current architecture uses precious materials and causes pollution. Visionary thinking may create more sustainable designs, writes architect Neil Spiller.
By the middle of this century, our cities are likely to be hotter, experience more dramatic changes in weather, be noisier and have an increasingly tenuous relationship with our natural world.
There’s a problem. Not only are cities responsible for 40% of our total carbon emissions, but they also deal with a limited set of physical conditions, and assume that our weather is going to be constant. Our buildings are designed for dryness and therefore deteriorate in the presence of water. Modern architecture is also designed to just house people, not other life forms, and therefore does not inherently promote biodiversity.
We therefore need to think about architecture very differently. We must search for new models for constructing buildings, as well as searching for improvements to our current industrial processes.
Already, designers and architects are considering more ecological urban design, especially in the way that resources are used. These new fabrics are quintessentially fluid, and can respond to changing urban demands. For example, Paris Habitat, the capitals’ largest owner of social housing is using body heat from the Paris Metro to heat buildings. Bioprocesses are powering buildings such as the BIQ house with a bio reactive facade, which was built as part of this year’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. And WSP’s plans for seasonal ponds to deal with water storage in Jaypee City in India begin to deal with the changes that happen as the seasons change. Cities are being imagined that challenge the permanence of building materials and their inertness, and we are likely to see a change in our experience of cities thanks to augmented realities – a new way of seeing via our smart phones and Google Glasses.
Via Herve Ansanay, Lockall