Architects and city planners are becoming more and more familiar with the health effects of our built environment. This to-the-point infographic, designed by Chris Yoon, cites a few ways in which mid-20th century city planning trends have contributed to a growing obesity problem in the United States. This data has alarmed scientists, planners and city officials into stressing the importance of redesigning the physical spaces so as to encourage physical activity and healthy choices.
Immediately after Hurricane Sandy hit the North American Eastern seaboard last October, New York City embarked on a debate to find ways in which the city could protect itself from future storms that climate scientists predict will escalate in frequency. Engineers, architects, scientists from myriad disciplines came up with internationally inspired proposals, including sea walls, floating barrier islands, reefs and wetlands, to apply to this particular application. Diverse in scope, the ideas have gone through the ringer of feasibility and have left many wondering if we should we build to defend or build to adapt.
On Tuesday, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan that includes $20 billion worth of both: a proposal of removable flood walls, levees, gates and other defenses that would be implemented with adaptive measures, such as marshes, along with the extensive flood-proofing of homes and hospitals.
What does this plan entail and what can we imagine for the future of NYC? Find out after the break.
The Make It Right organization, Brad Pitt’s LEED and Cradle-to-Cradle inspired efforts to bring sustainable homes to communities in need, is probably best known for its much publicized work in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in the post-Hurrican Katrina climate. But the breadth of this organization’s work stretches beyond this community rebuilding project. Make It Right (MIR) has worked within several disadvantaged communities in an effort to build sustainable and supportive homes and neighborhoods through the development of residences, community centers and infrastructural elements, and by providing training and counseling.
MIR is working in Newark, New Jersey bringing residences to disabled veterans; in Kansas city, Montana the organization is rebuilding a blighted community within the neighborhood of Manheim Park; and most recently is partnering with Sioux and Assiniboine Native American tribe members to build sustainable homes on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.
More on Make It Right’s new work on the Fort Peck Reservation after the break.
The Mapdwell Project is a collaborative effort of researchers, academics, and professionals from MIT from a range of fields – design, building technology, engineering, environmental sciences, finance, and computer sciences – to develop a community resource of research-driven and tested information of sustainable practices. The Sustainable Design Lab at MIT collaborated with design studio MoDE (Modern Development Studio), which designed the online viewer. The fundamental goal of Mapdwell is to deliver a tool that enables communities to make informed decisions about how to incorporate sustainable practices into their lifestyles through community awareness, and access to information about energy efficiency and smart development.
More details on this tool after the break.
The Solar Decathlon China, the most recent addition to the international family of Solar Decathlon competitions, is a design competition that will take place biennially and challenge collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are Net Zero Energy Buildings and are affordable, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
Summer of 2013 will be the first year that a team from Israel will participate in the Solar Decathlon competition. Their hope was to develop and display a method of planning and design in which buildings could better respond to change, with the potential to be deconstructed, taken apart, modified and recycled. Values of environment, community, society and Israeli culture are all intertwined in a design that aims to raise awareness of these four elements and better incorporate them into Israeli architecture.
Read on for Team Israel’s Decathlon design.
UN Scientists Identify Sustainable Development Goals to Address the Health of the Environment and Livelihoods
“Researchers argue that in the face of increasing pressure on the planet’s ability to support life, adherence to out-dated definitions of sustainable development threaten to reverse progress made in developing countries over past decades.”
In an effort to address the changing priorities of sustainable development, a group of international scientists at the UN identified six goals that achieve a holistic view of the development and nourishment of Earth’s life support systems. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were launched with the intention of addressing problems of environmental sustainability as it pertains to poverty eradication, citing that these two problems need to be addressed in unison as they will “increasingly become serious barriers to further human development”, says Professor David Griggs of Monash University (AU) according to the International Council of Scientists.
Architecture for Humanity-Denver is seeking to raise money for the transformation of a museum parking lot into an outdoor classroom for children in need. The goal of Denver’s Museo de las Americas is to educate the community about the diversity of Latino Americano art and culture from ancient to contemporary through innovative exhibitions and programs, but the museum is lacking the necessary space for its increasingly popular youth summer camp.
Read more about the project and how you can help after the break.
“We don’t live in nature any more – we put boxes around it. But now we can actually engineer nature to sustain our needs. All we have to do is design the code and it will self-create. Our visions today – if we can encapsulate them in a seed – [will] grow to actually fulfill that vision.” - Andrew Hessel in a recent ArchDaily interview
“Engineering nature to sustain our needs” is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do. Synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory, plant scientist Kyle Taylor and project leader Antony Evans are working together to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting” – and perhaps even create glow-in-the-dark trees that would supplant (pun intended) the common street light.
How is this possible? Read on to find out.
Bike sharing has become a staple for urban commuting in city’s all over the world. Since its reintroduction into urban culture in the 1990s, it has taken on many forms. Today it is being optimized to serve dense cities to help alleviate traffic congestion, provide people with more transportation options, and to encourage a healthy way of commuting. An article by the Earth Policy Institute by Janet Larsen marks the exponential progress of bike-sharing programs, noting innovative solutions in cities across the world that make the programs safer, more accessible and more streamlined.
Join us after the break for more.
The American Institute of Architects today released a letter from more than 350 different associations and companies expressing opposition to efforts by special interests to gut energy conservation requirements for federal buildings.
The letter, which is addressed to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, was released one week ahead of the scheduled mark-up of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee May 8.
That legislation, introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would promote greater use of energy efficiency technology in commercial and residential buildings and by manufacturers.
The American Planning Association has released its list of 2013 National Planning Awards winners that exhibit the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value. Among the recipients are regional plans that seek to revitalize post-industrial cities, plans to preserve and rehabilitate native settlements, restore blighted communities, reassess planning and zoning in major cities, develop environmental conservation programs, regenerate access to our natural topography and develop guidelines and regulations for more sustainable approaches to building. The projects are diverse and span a significant realm of urban reclamation and development.
Join us after the break for a look at some of this year’s recipients.
From innovative mud and bamboo schools to state of the art “green” high-rises, the Master Jury for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture has selected 20 deserving nominees to be in the running for the prestigious, US$1 million prize. Since the award was launched 36 years ago, over 100 projects have received the prize and more than 7,500 building projects have been documented for exhibiting architectural excellence and improving the overall quality of life in their regions.
Farrokh Derakhshani, the Director of the Award, remarked: “The Master Jury, which includes some of the most prominent architects of our time, made interesting choices this year. For example, they chose schools in Afghanistan and Syria, but they also chose a hospital in Sudan, a high rise in Bangkok and the reconstruction of a refugee camp in Lebanon. In many ways, the choices reflect a central preoccupation of the Award: the impact of buildings and public spaces on the quality of life. Now this seems fairly mainstream, but we must remember that the Aga Khan Award has been talking about ‘human scale’ and ‘sustainability’ since 1977”.
The 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Shortlist includes:
With Stockhom, Hamburg and Copenhagen leading the way, urban metropolis’ worldwide are beginning to rethink their infrastructure and envision ways to transform their city into an efficient, sustainable model of the future in an effort to preserve a high quality of life and stay competitive in the global society. This shift is already being reflected in the education system, with the rapid growth of sustainability-focused academic programs and a sizable, projected increase in “green” jobs.
Get an understanding as to how sustainable cities will save the earth with an infographic after the break.
Could a new revolution in wind-turbines be on its way? A team from Australia’s University of Wollongong (UOW) have collaborated with leading marine engineering firm Birdon Pty Ltd, to develop PowerWINDows – a new type of wind-to-energy converter that could potentially be appearing on skyscrapers near you soon.
Read more about this new idea after the break…
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.
The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program, now in its 17th year, is the profession’s best known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.
The 2013 COTE Top Ten Green Projects and Top Ten Plus after the break…
The Bullitt Center, a six-story, 50,000 square foot office building in Seattle that aspires to be the world’s greenest commercial building, opens its doors to the public today on Earth Day. This $30 million “living laboratory,” designed by Miller Hull Partnership, distinguishes itself from other sustainable projects with its composting toilets, the exclusion of 350 common toxic chemicals – including PVC, lead, mercury, phthalates, BPA and formaldehyde – along with a strict energy and water budget that aims for self-sufficiency under the Living Building Challenge. The environmentally-conscious Bullitt Foundation hopes that the new center will demonstrate that carbon-neutral office space can be “commercially viable and aesthetically stunning,” a series of systems that can be easily copied elsewhere without being overly demanding in upkeep.
Read more about the Bullitt Center after the break…
Sustainability leader Hunter Lovins once called the building industry “dynamically conservative — it works hard to stay in the same place.”
But old habits cannot fully address new challenges. According to 350.org, fossil fuel corporations currently have in their reserves five times the amount of carbon that, if burned too quickly, may raise atmospheric temperatures to a catastrophic level where Hurricane Sandy-scale storms could become the norm. Quicker, deeper progress is imperative.
Architecture is an essential arena for sustainable innovation. Buildings represent about half the annual energy and emissions in the U.S. and three-quarters of its electricity. With the built environment growing — the U.S. building stock increases by about 3 billion square feet every year — architects have a historic opportunity to transform its impact for the better.
Keep reading to find out the 6 Steps architects can take to transform the profession, after the break…
Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial plans to rezone midtown New York, allowing for bigger and bolder skyscrapers, has found an unlikely ally in the form of environmentalists.
Re-zoning midtown would ultimately lead to the demolition of the corporate steel and glass skyscrapers, which preservationists argue are emblematic of the cutting edge modernism that swept 1950′s America. However, landlords contest that – for the most part – they are poorly built copycats of seminal landmarks such as the Seagram and Lever buildings and are not particularly significant or suited for modern needs.
More information after the break..