Braunschweig Hortitecture Symposium to Explore Synergies of Architecture and Plant Material

© T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd. (2014)

Starting December 10, the Hortitecture 01 Symposium will kickstart a (free) public lecture series in Braunschweig, Germany, centered around brainstorming synergistic strategies for integrating architecture and vegetal matter. Stefano Boeri, MVRDV and are among a list of interdisciplinary experts that will join together to offer discussions focused around the exploration of vernacular wisdom and contemporary architectural solutions to sustainable building problems.

“Jellyfish Barge” Provides Sustainable Source of Food and Water

Exterior View. Image © Matteo De Mayda

With the earth’s population increasing at an exponential rate, sustainable agriculture and access to clean water are becoming desperately important. Cristiana Favretto and Antonio Giraridi of Studiomobile recognize this and have proposed a solution. Dubbed the Jellyfish Barge for its shape and translucency, this floating greenhouse is capable of growing its own food hydroponically and producing up to 150 liters of fresh drinking water per day. Even more beneficial is its low-cost, easy-to-assemble design that can be implemented in a variety of locations. Learn more about how this fascinating project works, after the break.

Light Matters: 7 Ways Lighting Can Make Architecture More Sustainable

Sustainable lighting at HDI Gerling Headquarters. Architects: ingenhoven architects, www.ingenhovenarchitects.com. Lighting design: Tropp Lighting, www.tropp-lighting.com. Image © Hans Georg Esch, www.hgesch.de

Sustainable lighting design offers various well-being and environmental benefits in addition to economic advantages for clients and users. Although daylight provides a free lighting source,  for most spaces the amount and time of daylight is not sufficient and electrical lighting is necessary. A focus on sustainability becomes essential for minimizing energy consumption and improving the quality of life. Even though efficiency has significantly increased with technology, electrical lighting is still more widely used. Often the ambition for renovations or new applications goes along with a higher quantity of lighting instead of finding a better lighting quality with an adequate amount of energy.

Read on after the break for ’ 7 fundamental steps to achieve sustainable lighting.

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

Innovation District Harborwalk . Image Courtesy of ULI

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.

ArchDaily Celebrates World Cities Day: 23 Unmissable Articles on Cities and Urbanism

Last year the UN General Assembly issued a resolution to “designate 31 October, beginning in 2014, as .” A legacy of the Expo 2010 Shanghai, the first World Cities day is being hosted today in Shanghai, with the aim of focusing on global urbanization and encouraging cooperation among countries to solve and promote sustainable urban development worldwide.

“In a world where already over half the population lives in urban areas, the human future is largely an urban future, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on the importance of World Cities Day. “We must get urbanization right, which means reducing greenhouse emissions, strengthening resilience, ensuring basic services such as water and sanitation and designing safe public streets and spaces for all to share.  Liveable cities are crucial not only for city-dwellers but also for providing solutions to some of the key aspects of sustainable development.”

To celebrate World Cities day, we’ve rounded up 23 articles that you can’t miss on critical issues relating to our cities, ranging from to addressing equality and creative solutions for integrating cycling into our cities.

Think we’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments below.

AIA Report Finds Increasing Acceptance of Carbon Reduction Targets

Courtesy of the AIA

The 2030 Progress Report for the American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s 2030 Commitment - a voluntary program for architects who want to commit their practice to advancing the AIA’s goal of carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030 – has found a significant increase in the number of projects that meet its current targets for a 60% reduction in carbon emissions, with over 400 buildings in the program meeting the goal. “There is some very encouraging data in this report that shows how architects are making measurable progress towards reducing the carbon emissions in their design projects,” said AIA Chief Executive Officer, Robert Ivy, FAIA. Read on after the break for more results of the report.

US Department of Agriculture Launches $2 Million Tall Wood Building Prize Competition

Limnologen in Växjö, Sweden. Image Courtesy of Midroc Property Development

Among the changes in material that are constantly altering the architectural landscape, one of the most popular – and most dramatic – is the idea of the skyscraper. And with vocal advocates like Benton Johnson of SOM and Michael Green leading the discussion with projects like the Timber Tower Research Project, the wooden highrise is on the verge of becoming a mainstream approach.

To further the conversation in the USA, the US Department of Agriculture, working in partnership with Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) and Binational Softwood Lumber Council (BSLC), has recently launched the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, an ideas competition with a $2 million prize. To find out more about tall wood buildings, we caught up with Oscar Faoro, Project Manager of the competition. Read on after the Break for our interview and more details on how to enter.

Is It Time For the Anti-LEED?

seems to prioritize “Gizmo Green solutions” such as the photovoltaic panels on Ronald Lu and Partners’ Zero Carbon Building. Image © Ronald Lu and Partners

Steve Mouzon, a principal of Studio Sky and Mouzon Design, is an architect, urbanist, author, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which hosts Project:SmartDwelling. The Guild’s non-profit affiliate is the Guild Foundation, which hosts the Original Green initiative

The LEED rating systems were a great idea in the beginning, but they have become a symbol of all that is wrong with green building today. Getting a LEED rating is slow, difficult, and expensive, and the rating is skewed heavily to Gizmo Green solutions that are completely ignorant of where the building is being built, and for whom. We need the opposite sort of system today: one that is intelligent about where a building is built and who it’s being built for, and that is fast, friendly, and free so that anyone can use it.

Can You Imagine a City Without Air Conditioners?

is pioneering an underground cooling system that could cut 80% of carbon emissions compared to conventional air conditioning. Image © Flickr CC User Justin Swan

Despite Finland’s relatively cool temperatures, climate changes have made heat waves more common in Northern Europe, and the demand for cooling buildings in summer is increasing. Instead of installing air conditioners for individual buildings, Helsinki is pioneering a vast network of underground infrastructure that pumps cold water from lakes and seas into local buildings. Beneath an unassuming park in downtown Helsinki sits a reservoir containing nearly 9 million gallons of water that is recycled and cooled by waste energy after it is used for cooling, replacing the need for air conditioning in the city and cutting carbon pollution by 80%. Read more about this undertaking in this article from Fast Co. Exist.

Plans Revealed for Denmark’s Delta District in Vinge

Courtesy of and the Municipality of Frederikssund

Located close to Copenhagen, Vinge is Denmark’s newest sustainable city. The first neighborhood for the city, designed by Danish landscape architects SLA for the Municipality of Frederikssund is aptly named the Delta District. The plan takes advantage of man-made landscape features to create a unique residential community closely tied to nature. Read on after the break to learn more about the proposed plan.

European Winners of 2014 Holcim Awards Announced

Anthropic Park: Freshwater ecological reserve and remediation – Saline Joniche, Italy. Image Courtesy of

The Holcim Foundation has announced the European winners of its 2014 Holcim Awards for exemplary sustainable design and construction. In light of the complex and interdisciplinary challenges facing the building industry today, the Jury identified target issues of environmental, social, and economical performance alongside architectural excellence and high transferability as intrinsic objectives in the winning projects.

Teams from Italy, France, and Austria were all selected for approaching the challenges of sustainable construction with innovative creativity and social ethos. Each will share over $300,000 in prize money and will be considered for the global awards.

Read more about the winning schemes after the break…

JAHN, LOGUER + ADG Presents Proposal for New Mexico City Airport

Courtesy of JAHN

Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, chief designer and president of JAHN, has shared with us his net-zero design proposal for the new Mexico City International competition. Similar to the Norman Foster and Fernando Romero’s winning design, JAHN’s proposal is a symbiotic blend of sensitive cultural meaning and powerful energy efficiency. As per competition requirements to pair an international firm with a Mexican firm, the project was the result of a collaboration with local architects Francisco Lopez-Guerra of LOGUER and Alonso de Garay of .

The Green Building Wars

The Clinton Presidential Center by Polshek Partnership and Hargreaves Associates received a rating of Two from the GBI. But would have rated it the same? Image © Timothy Hursley

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine, this comprehensive analysis by sustainability expert Lance Hosey examines the current disputes within the green building industry, where market leader LEED currently finds competition from the Living Building Challenge, aiming for the “leading edge” of the market, and the Green Globes at the other end of the scale. Arguing for a more holistic understanding of what makes materials sustainable, Hosey examines the role that materials, and material industries such as the timber and chemical industries, can have in directing the aims and principles of these three sustainability rating systems – for better or for worse.

Invisible Solar Harvesting Technology Becomes Reality

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. Image © Yimu Zhao

Solar harvesting systems don’t need to be glaringly obvious. In fact, now they can even be invisible, thanks to researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) who have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) that can be applied to windows or anything else with a clear surface.

LSC technology is nothing new, but the transparent aspect is. Previous attempts yielded inefficient results with brightly colored materials, and as researcher Richard Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and science at MSU, puts it, “No one wants to sit behind colored glass.” To learn how Lunt and the rest of the research team achieved transparency, keep reading after the break.

Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live Launches Open Ideas Competition

Courtesy of National Custom and Self Build Association

Is it possible to build low cost homes in the city that are both sustainable and easy on the eyes? Self Build on a Shoestring in the City, organized by the National Custom & Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live, is an ideas competition in its second year that seeks to answer this question by showcasing innovative designs for a group self build project in an urban location. More details after the break.

Kinetic Architecture: Designs for Active Envelopes

Courtesy of Images Publishing

Kinetic Architecture: Designs for Active Envelopes is a book about energy. We have written it to explore the new ways architecture has developed in the last decade to respond to the flow of energy, both natural and man-made, that primarily affects building performance and the comfort of the people in them. Buildings regulate energy flow in several ways, but in this book we explore the approaches that innovative architects, engineers, and consultants have taken with building envelopes, façades, and other types of enclosures that modulate the internal environment of architecture to various ends. Architects have expressed this regulation in ways both visible and invisible, using the media of air, water, and the thermal mass of a variety of , and often a combination of all three.

UIA Commits to Zero Carbon Emissions with “2050 Imperative”

The 2050 Imperative will likely lead to more buildings such as the Zero Carbon Building by Ronald Lu and Partners. Image © Ronald Lu and Partners

At its World Congress event in Durban last week, the International Union of Architects (UIA)’s 124 member organizations declared their commitment to sustainable architecture by unanimously adopting the 2050 Imperative, a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the built environment to zero by mid-century.

The adoption of the 2050 Imperative was planned to coincide with the United Nations Framework Convention on (UNFCCC) conference that will reconvene in Paris in 2015, and has as one of its aims a plan to phase out CO2 emissions from the power and industrial sectors by 2050. The UIA stated their aim to ”send a strong message to the Parties of the UNFCCC, and to the world, that we are committed to a truly sustainable and equitable future.”

Read on after the break for more detail from the 2050 Imperative, including 5 key objectives

Solar Decathlon Europe Announces Winners of its 2014 Contest

Rhome for Dencity / Rhome (Rome, Italy). Image © Solar Decathlon Europe / jflakes.com

On Saturday night, the awards were announced in the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe, which is currently ongoing in the grounds of the Versailles Palace in France. The competition challenges university teams to build and run a full scale solar powered house, with awards being judged on a range of requirements including factors, architecture and comfort, with a different jury of three experts judging each requirement.

The overall winner, based on a combination of all the factors, was “Rhome for Dencity”, by the team from Roma Tre University, with a proposal that seeks to ”re-densify and re-qualify the boundaries of Rome” by applying principles of density and sustainability to this area where ”housing, country, archaeology and illegal buildings are interwoven.”

Read on after the break for images of all the winners