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Harvard HouseZero - A Retrofit Response to Climate Change

14:00 - 27 May, 2017
Harvard HouseZero - A Retrofit Response to Climate Change , ZeroHouse aims to set a new benchmark for sustainable retrofitting. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta/Plompmozes
ZeroHouse aims to set a new benchmark for sustainable retrofitting. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta/Plompmozes

As part of a global, interdisciplinary effort to tackle climate change, architects are devoting resources towards optimizing the energy efficiency of buildings old and new. This effort is more than justified, given that buildings account for almost 40% of UK and US emissions. Although sustainability is now a hallmark of many new architectural schemes, the energy inefficiency of structures from the 18th and 19th centuries still contribute to global carbon emissions on a vast scale.

In order to address the challenge of intelligently retrofitting existing buildings, the Harvard Center for Green Buildings (CGBC) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, in collaboration with Snøhetta and Skanska Technology, are retrofitting the CGBC’s headquarters in a pre-1940s timber-framed building, aiming to create one of the world’s most ambitious sustainable buildings. HouseZero is driven by uncompromising performance targets, such as 100% natural ventilation, 100% daylight autonomy, and almost zero energy required for heating and cooling. The result will be a prototype for ultra-efficiency, reducing reliance on energy-intensive technology whilst creating a comfortable indoor environment.

An array of features include PV cells, a heat pump, window shrouds and a solar vent. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta The existing 1940's timber-framed house will become the CGBC HQ. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta Despite its environmental provisions, ZeroHouse also places an emphasis on user-friendly design. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta/Plompmozes ZeroHouse aims to become completely energy autonomous. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta/Plompmozes +5

Svalbard "Doomsday" Seed Vault Floods After Record Winter Temperatures

18:40 - 19 May, 2017
Svalbard "Doomsday" Seed Vault Floods After Record Winter Temperatures, © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Svalbard_seed_vault_IMG_8751.JPG'>Wikimedia user Bjoertvedt</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>
© Wikimedia user Bjoertvedt licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Earlier this year, the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard was flooded after record high temperatures over the winter caused some of the permafrost surrounding the vault to melt, reports The Guardian. The building's entrance tunnel was flooded and then froze to create conditions "like a glacier" for those trying to enter. Fortunately, the vault itself was not breached, meaning no harm came to the building's precious contents. However, the incident has raised questions about whether the building will be able to fulfill its purpose in the long term.

reSITE 2017: In/visible City

21:55 - 12 April, 2017
reSITE 2017: In/visible City, reSITE 2017: Iv/isible City. Design © Studio Najbrt
reSITE 2017: Iv/isible City. Design © Studio Najbrt

reSITE brings the 6th annual architecture and urbanism event, reSITE 2017: In/visible City, back to Prague at the Ricardo Bofill-designed Forum Karlin.

How does invisible infrastructure shape the visible aspects of a city?

40 international thought leaders will discuss the intersections of design and infrastructure and the presence of these vital systems in the architecture and landscape of cities.

New Book Calls for an End to Our Fetish for Conditioned Skyscrapers

06:00 - 16 March, 2017
New Book Calls for an End to Our Fetish for Conditioned Skyscrapers, Cambridge research seeks to end the architectural fetish of glass and steel skyscrapers © Flickr user tomhilton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0
Cambridge research seeks to end the architectural fetish of glass and steel skyscrapers © Flickr user tomhilton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Professor Alan Short of the University of Cambridge has published a book advocating for the revival of 19th-century architectural ideas to address the crippling energy use of modern skyscrapers. The Recovery of Natural Environments in Architecture proposes an end to the architectural fetish for glass, steel, and air conditioning, instead drawing inspiration from forgotten techniques in naturally ventilated buildings of the 1800s. The book is a culmination of 30 years’ research and design by Prof. Short and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge.

Cambridge research seeks to end the architectural fetish of glass and steel skyscrapers © Flickr user tomhilton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 Professor Short argues that skyscraper design must depart from its current reliance on glass and steel, and begin to harness natural ventilation. Boeri Studio's Bosco Verticale. Image Courtesy of Paolo Rosselli Professor Alan Short calls for an overhaul of artificial ventilation in skyscrapers. Image Courtesy of University of Cambridge Energy demands from a recent skyscraper boom in China has led to energy controls on millions of inhabitants © Flickr user obscurepixels. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 +5

Watch Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before The Flood" Climate Change Documentary Free Online

05:00 - 3 November, 2016

Update: Unfortunately this free online viewing was only intended for a limited time and National Geographic has now removed the video. If you didn't catch the documentary in time, you can still watch it on DVD.

As a group, architects are without question among the most enthusiastic supporters of sustainable initiatives around. It should therefore be welcome news to many architects that National Geographic has released its latest documentary on climate change, Before the Flood, for free on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter--pretty much everywhere.

Presented by Hollywood superstar and recently-appointed UN Climate Ambassador Leonardo DiCaprio, the documentary is perhaps the most ambitious film about climate change since Al Gore's 2006 An Inconvenient Truth. Throughout the course of the 90-minute film, DiCaprio travels the globe to see the damage wrought by the early signs of irreversible climate change, from melting glaciers, to dying coral reefs, to flooding cities. Speaking to world leaders including Barack Obama and The Pope, as well as a whole host of climate scientists, DiCaprio's aim is not so much to convince viewers of the existence of climate change, as with An Inconvenient Truth, but instead to investigate just how far down the wrong path we've traveled, and whether there is any hope for humanity to save itself.

Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary

03:00 - 26 September, 2016
Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary, Courtesy of Unknown
Courtesy of Unknown

This book is a collection of essays at the intersection of architecture and climate change. Neither a collective lament nor an inventory of architectural responses, the essays consider cultural values ascribed to climate and ask how climate reflects our conception of what architecture is and does.

Which materials and conceptual infrastructures render climate legible, knowable, and actionable, and what are their spatial implications? How do these interrelated questions offer new vantage points on the architectural ramifications of climate change at the interface of resiliency, sustainability, and eco-technology?

Miami’s Porsche Design Tower: A Bland Monument of Hubris in the Face of Climate Catastrophe

10:40 - 10 August, 2016

Florida is a state in denial. Miami is in the midst of one of the largest building booms in the region's history. Dense crane canopies pepper the city's skyline as they soar over forthcoming white, gold, and aqua clad "high end" residential and hotel towers. This massive stream of investment dollars is downright paradoxical considering the impending calamity that surrounds Southern Florida: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the sea level could likely increase almost 35 inches (0.89 meters) by mid-century. If current trends continue, that number is anticipated to rise to up to 80 inches (2.0 meters) by the year 2100, threatening the habitability of the entire metro area.

Given that harrowing scenario, Miami is either refusing to acknowledge the inevitable, or desperately trying to become relevant enough to be saved—not that saving the city is actually feasible. The region sits on extremely porous limestone which pretty much rules out the option of a Netherlands style sea wall. If the Atlantic couldn’t make any horizontal inroads, the rising tide would simply bubble up from below. Miami’s pancake topography doesn’t stand a chance.

James Corner Field Operations' ICEBERGS Brings the Chill to the National Building Museum

12:20 - 11 July, 2016
James Corner Field Operations' ICEBERGS Brings the Chill to the National Building Museum, © ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum, by James Corner Field Operations. Photo by Timothy Schenck.
© ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum, by James Corner Field Operations. Photo by Timothy Schenck.

This year’s installment of the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party Series, James Corner Field Operations’ ICEBERGS, is now open to the public. On display until September 5th, ICEBERGS takes the form of a shimmering, underwater world of glacial ice fields located in the museum’s expansive Great Hall to provide the public with an escape from the hot Washington, D.C. summer.

© ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum, by James Corner Field Operations. Photo by Timothy Schenck. © ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum, by James Corner Field Operations. Photo by Timothy Schenck. © ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum, by James Corner Field Operations. Photo by Timothy Schenck. © ICEBERGS at the National Building Museum, by James Corner Field Operations. Photo by Timothy Schenck. +14

Footnotes on Climate

16:30 - 17 May, 2016
Footnotes on Climate

An installation of nearly 100 books in the James Stirling-designed Book Pavilion at the Venice Biennale serves as a collection of documents that asks us to consider how climate intersects with architectural ideas.

Call for Papers: First International Conference on Urban Physics

20:17 - 7 April, 2016
Call for Papers: First International Conference on Urban Physics, First International Conference on Urban Physics, Quito - Galápagos, 25 September - 2 October 2016
First International Conference on Urban Physics, Quito - Galápagos, 25 September - 2 October 2016

The First International Conference on Urban Physics aims to be a founding event for the numerical simulation of cities and megacities, which are facing worldwide critical problems, such as their dual participation - as victims and actors - to the present and upcoming climate changes. The conference will provide an opportunity for scientists from different disciplines (computer graphics, environmental physics, numerical models, renewable energies, urban planning ...) to confront their ideas and methods for the detection and analysis of physical quantities, in order to better manage the development of cities and

Exhibition: Understanding Place: Seven Years Researching Dhaka, Bangladesh

16:00 - 15 March, 2016
Exhibition: Understanding Place: Seven Years Researching Dhaka, Bangladesh, Photo credit: AdamElsteinPhotography
Photo credit: AdamElsteinPhotography

UNDERSTANDING PLACE showcases selections from a seven-year long rich investigation that capture the essence of Dhaka’s extreme wet-dry climate flux in a totally immersive atmospheric experience. Lit by an 8’ tall rear projection screen of audio-video captured footage, a narrated mind-map floor animation, an illuminated wall of colorful photographs, and LED monitor slide-shows of student projects, the visitor is invited to meander through four zones identifying the architectural design process: observation, data collection, analysis, and proposals.

Happy World Architecture Day!

11:45 - 5 October, 2015

Created by the Union International des Architects (UIA) in 2005, World Architecture Day is celebrated on the first Monday of October with the aim of reminding the world about the collective responsibility of architects in designing our future cities and settlements.

This year, the UIA has selected “Architecture, Building, Climate” as the theme of the day, seeking to highlight the essential role that architecture, design and urbanism have in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. With international climate treaty negotiations set to happen later this year, the “UIA members, working bodies and partners will mobilize on 5 October to promote actions and solutions that apply the enormous power of architecture and urban design in coping with global climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Through small actions architects can collectively make a big difference and create significant changes. To celebrate World Architecture Day, we have rounded up a selection of projects that have taken steps towards the challenge of protecting our environment.

"Grassroots Cactivism": Using Cacti and Eco-Tourism to Combat Drought in California

09:30 - 27 September, 2015
"Grassroots Cactivism": Using Cacti and Eco-Tourism to Combat Drought in California, Cacti Yard. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen
Cacti Yard. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen

Although global warming may only be partially to blame for California’s now four-year, record-breaking drought – intensifying it by 15 to 20 percent, say scientists – the long term implications of the weather phenomenon are a preview of a drier future with less predictable weather patterns.[1] As ecology and architecture begin to share responsibility in the implications of climate change, future solutions will need to balance architectural needs with ecological imperatives. Many designers are accounting for water scarcity in schemes for the drought-stricken state, but only recently have ideas addressed this issue head-on. “Grassroots Cactivism,” an award-winning proposal by Ali Chen, suggests that the drought-tolerant nopales cactus, with a variety of uses, is an ideal candidate for aiding water-conservation in California.

Read on for more about this biological breakthrough in water conservation.

Resort Cafe. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen Cacti Yard Aerial, Day. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen Cacti Pond, Water Treatment Tanks. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen Resort + Cacti Yard Aerial, Sunset. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen +7

Panel Discussion: Climate Change and the Willamette Valley

19:30 - 18 September, 2015
Panel Discussion: Climate Change and the Willamette Valley

Farmland prices hitting new records, self-identified “climate refugees” fleeing the droughts in the southwest for verdant Oregon, rising water temperatures killing fish —the warming climate is already changing the Willamette Valley. Things will look very different here for farming, urban livability, and ecosystem health.

To ponder this rapidly evolving ecosystem, the John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape will present four leading thinkers on the Willamette Valley and its future. What lies ahead for Oregon’s primary population center, breadbasket, garden, natural landscape, and playground? Moderated by Yeon Center director Randy Gragg, the conversation will explore the research that has been done, the successes and shortcomings of programs in place, what kinds of initiatives might be developed to shape a warmer, more populous valley to benefit its urban and rural populations, industries, and ecological health.

Alban Guého Creates "Flood" Installation for Paris' Nuit Blanche 2015

08:00 - 28 June, 2015
Alban Guého Creates "Flood" Installation for Paris' Nuit Blanche 2015, Flood in Galley. Image Courtesy of Alban Guého
Flood in Galley. Image Courtesy of Alban Guého

Architect Alban Guého's “Flood” installation for Paris' 2015 Nuit Blanche arts festival aims to serve as a stark reminder of climate change and the impact humanity has on the world. The 50-square-meter (538 square-foot) installation is composed of weaved filaments that connect the ceiling to the floor. A thick, dark liquid (either oil or black paint) will slowly flow down each string, trickling into a black pool. Flood seeks to address the theme of this year’s Nuit Blanche, which is to echo the issues stemming from COP21, Paris’ Sustainable Innovation Forum.

Detail of Trickling Filament. Image Courtesy of Alban Guého Vector Projection of Flood. Image Courtesy of Alban Guého Parallel Filament. Image Courtesy of Alban Guého Axonometric View of Flood. Image Courtesy of Alban Guého +5

A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?

09:30 - 23 May, 2015
A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?, A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla
A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla

If you want to see the future of urban adaptation, head to the Maldives. That’s the message and warning behind Mayank Thammalla’s master's thesis from the Unitec School of Architecture in Auckland, New Zealand. Under even the most conservative IPCC forecasts, the low-lying Republic of Maldives will become almost uninhabitable as sea levels rise, while any further rise could leave many of the 200 inhabited islands underwater. It’s an existential threat like no other - in as little as ten year's time, the Maldivian government could be faced with the impossible situation of deciding how to deal with over 400,000 refugees leaving the area where their country used to be. Instead of attempting to rebuild the Maldives elsewhere or mount a series of defences against the oncoming sea, Thammalla’s research project has the difficult goal of realistically preserving Maldivian life in the same geographical location as it is now. His solution? Semi-submersible oil rigs.

A proposed system of transportation between public levels. Image © Mayank Thammalla An exploded view of the structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla A rendering of the proposed structure during a storm. Image © Mayank Thammalla A rendered view from a mosque. Image © Mayank Thammalla +12

Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century

00:00 - 7 February, 2015
Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century, Courtesy of Florida International University
Courtesy of Florida International University

Climate change, particularly rising sea levels, is expected to have a substantial impact in Miami, Florida over the next 100 years. Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century, an exhibition at the Coral Gables Museum, addresses this pressing issue, examining effective design solutions through the lens of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. The exhibition of graduate student work from Florida International University uses the city's existing infrastructure and architecture as the groundwork for future adaptation and development. A panel discussion highlighting the topic will take place on Thursday, February 12, with architects from BIG, OMA and West 8. Learn more, after the break. 

ULI Releases New Report on the Infrastructural Challenges of Rising Sea Levels

00:00 - 2 November, 2014
Innovation District Harborwalk . Image Courtesy of ULI Boston
Innovation District Harborwalk . Image Courtesy of ULI Boston

The Urban Implications of Living With Water, a recent report by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Boston, opens with the clear assertion: "We are beginning to feel the effects of climate change." The result of a conversation amongst over seventy experts from the fields of architecture, engineering, public policy, real estate and more, the report covers the proposed integrated solutions for a future of living in a city that proactively meets the challenges accompanying rising water levels.

"We accept that the seas are rising, the weather is changing, and our communities are at risk; and we recognize that no solution can be all-encompassing. It is our hope that this report will spark conversation, shift our understanding of what is possible, and aid us in reframing challenges into opportunities as we move toward this new era of development."

Become part of the discussion and read more about the collective ideas, after the break.