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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the New Cities Summit – held last year in São Paulo – we caught up with Eric Bunge of New York-based practice nArchitects outside of Oscar Niemeyer’s Ibirapuera auditorium. The summit’s theme was centered on the future of cities and Bunge was presenting his firm’s My Micro NY project, which was the winning design of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s adAPT NYC competition. “We’re kind of influenced by New York itself as a microcosm. Our project looks a little bit like a microcosm of the skyline. We’re interested in this idea of re-inventing what micro is and how much of New York you can inhabit,” Bunge said regarding the project.
According to Bunge, housing is based on regulation and therefore one of the most constrained things to design. “I think we can reinvent housing,” he told us.
Watch the full interview to learn more about Bunge's thoughts on reinventing housing, the inspiration behind his My Micro NY project and how he strives to address climate change in his projects.
Joe Paxton of the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, was awarded the 2014 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship for his proposal “Buffer Landscapes 2060.” The £6,000 travel grant will enable him to study the impact of climate change in a number of locations, ultimately to propose some measures that might mitigate the threat of floods, droughts, melting glaciers and rising temperatures. A comment from Foster, after the break...
Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has been appointed to be the U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change. Upon receiving the news, Bloomberg tweeted: "Cities are taking measurable action to reduce emissions, emerging as leaders in the battle against climate change... I look forward to working with cities around the world and the UN to accelerate progress [to combat global warming].” You can read more here on USNews.