Rome based architecture and design firm GOMMA Design has submitted one of their latest projects, Coral City, a self-sustaining and disaster-resistant eco-village in the Philippines, submitted for the DAtE competition. Additional images of their proposal and a lengthy description are available after the break.
“CORAL CITY”, designed in partnership with ITA Project, was chosen among almost 300 entries from all over the world, and awarded with the special ENERGY AWARD (category professionals). You can find the complete list of winners here.
A PREMISE City as a projection The form of our cities is nothing more than a projection on the ground of our society (constituted of human activity, values, principles, economy, culture, religion, etc) on one side, and the response to specific geographical conditions (climate, orography, atmospheric agents, etc) on the other side. In an ultimate analysis, the form of our city is a result of a higher level of interactions between people, and between them and the existing natural environment. Then, why are our cities often so chaotic, disordered, polluted, dirty, in a few words not sustainable? Maybe because the values and the principles of our society today are not properly sustainable? This might be an answer.
So, as architects, what can we do in order to design sustainable (and beautiful) cities? If the form of the city is just a projection on the ground of a society created by human values, is it possible for us to design more livable and eco-friendly cities starting from their form (hence starting from the end of the process just mentioned)? Is it possible to activate a “backward” process? Can we change the society and its values with the power of design?
Our proposal wants to prove that architecture and urban planning can design sustainable cities only if they start from different and more responsible values. A conscientious development is the main challenge of our generation, the only way to achieve a sustainable world.
THE CONCEPT Architecture as a metaphor We think that architecture is a metaphor of nature. Looking from this perspective, our “role model” has to be found in the natural environment, which contains an infinite number of complex living structures. Natural structures, better than any human achievement, can help us find a way to design a new sustainable community. For this reason, our conceptual mainframe for the DAtE competition was the study of “corals”, which can be easily compared to our cities (because they have to satisfy similar requirements).
A GREEN MASTERPLAN In our zoning 50% of the total available area will be green. There will be parks inside the development and green courtyards inside the buildings. Cars will have no access inside the development (except for emergency purposes), they will be parked in dedicated areas along the external perimeter. From there, circulations will be assured by electric buses, bicycles, pedestrian paths etc. This way, pollution will be dramatically reduced.
SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY The project master plan aims to guarantee and stimulate social relations between tenants in different layers. Inner courtyards = First level of socialization In these areas, people living in the same building will be able to gather. Small social activities can be promoted, increasing the outdoor action of the kids as of the other age’s people. The inner courtyards are dedicated to the socialization of people who share the same building, assuring a certain level of security and privacy. They are not accessible by unauthorized people.
Parks/streets = Second level of socialization A big percentage of areas are dedicated to open green parks, accessible by people who live in the neighborhood but also by people from other parts of the city. A landscape design will make these areas very enjoyable, with a not polluted air due to the absence of cars. The internal streets (between the different buildings) are intentionally designed quite narrow to promote physical relations between people. Small indoor and outdoor markets, “sari-sari” stores, shops, a pharmacy, banks, restaurants, will face the streets creating a vivid and lively atmosphere. This vibrant ambient is a main theme of our approach, we learned it from the Filipino Barangay, where life is lived most of the time outdoors. This “easy-way” of living will improves spontaneous public relations and will create a vivid micro economy due to the domestic consumption.
Public buildings = third level of socialization Structures like school, church, city hall etc, represent more elaborate socialization areas.All the activities related to the organization of the town, will take place inside these buildings. The design of these structures is purposely “user friendly”, to welcome the citizen. In a familiar environment, the users will feel part of a community and for this reason they will actively participate in the organization of their town. A good integration between different people is a warranty to achieve a safe, clean and well maintained community.
STEEL STRUCTURE Steel is a green material because its production has a lower impact on the environment (compared to other construction materials), and also because it’s easy to recycle and dismantle. It is also affordable in terms of price, easy to assemble, light, easy to move and optimal for a clean and accurate onsite construction. In addition to that, its good structural performances under different solicitations and its capability to be used and combined with other kinds of materials (like wood, concrete, glass etc) make steel our ultimate choice for structural purposes.
PANELING For external and internal walls prefabricated panels, produced using recycled and local materials, will be used. There are good products available already on the market, with a reasonable price and very high performances (thermal and acoustic insulation capacity, reduced weight, easy installation, etc).
CLADDING Both residential and public buildings will have facades partially covered with Bamboo. This material is natural, local, cheap, largely used in rural construction in the Philippines and hence very familiar to the Filipinos. We used bamboo to create shades, to filter air and increase ventilation through the buildings. We used it also to characterize the public buildings (the city hall, the church etc). Bamboo is the right choice to create an affordable, natural and elegant architectural environment.
AIR COOLING and SHADING COOLING SYSTEM The green inner courtyards, together with big holes opened through the building masses and facades (gaps between some units), will increase the natural ventilation.In addition, cross ventilation in every unit will increase air velocity to reduce inner temperature.
Shaded surfaces (with extensive roof tops and shelters) will dramatically reduce direct sun radiations. During the hottest hours of the day, the sun never hits directly glazed surfaces (for internal temperature decrease). These 2 strategies will ensure a 30% decrease of energy consumption compared to the standards.
WATER MANAGEMENT and WASTE MANAGEMENT An interconnected system of canals is created in order to minimize the effects of heavy rains or floods. This drainage system, in an average situation (with no natural calamities) will also optimize water resource management. The water will be accumulated in the “water management facility”, where it will be treated and re-injected into the buildings for domestic and public use.
A similar procedure is going to be used for waste management. Garbage segregation will be facilitated in order to collect and deliver it to the “waste management facility”. This facility will relocate the different materials to main public “waste collecting buildings” where garbage, already divided, will be properly reconverted.
PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS Roofs and parking areas are massively covered with pv panels. About 1.600 sq/m of pv panels will produce power which will be sold to the grid, generating this way an impressive stream of revenues. This approach will at first reduce the production of Co2 and then offer a sustainable and eco-friendly way to self-finance the construction phase. The entire development could be assimilated to a “solar power plant”. This concept can be easily replicated to develop new “power towns”, completely self-sufficient under both energetic and financial point of view.
COST-EFFECTIVENESS Knowing that the “financial sustainability” of a “public housing plan” is a unavoidable aspect, the economic profitability of the entire project has been the platform to our design proposal.
The parking solar farm The implementation of Coral Town will start with the realization of a “parking solar farm” with a capacity of around 3200 kw/hour/day, which will generate a gross profit of 1,600,000.00 pesos/month. These revenues will be used partially to finance the “site development” works. After this phase will be completed, the construction of the residential buildings will start. The building solar farm The second phase will be the construction of the building structure up to the roof and the installation of the “building roof panels”. This way, every building will produce energy that will be sold to the grid (taking advantages from the Fed in Tariff). A portion of the revenues generated by this process will finance the construction of public areas. This way, the site development and the public buildings construction will be completely paid by this stream of revenues.
FINANCIAL VIABILITY The project is expected to generate revenues mainly from the sale of the housing units and sale of energy. Over a 7-year period, expected revenues will total to P 944.6 Million (US$ 21.97 M, at P43 = $1 FX rate), while direct costs will total to PHP 700.4 Million (US$ 16.3 M) leaving a gross income of PHP 244.2 Million (US$ 5.7 M). The continuing revenue stream from the sale of power is expected to be sustained in 20 years, or more. With an average income of P 40 Million (US$ 93,000) per year, the solar farm facilities will potentially generate additional revenues of PHP 520 Million (US$ 12M) by the end of 20 years. This simply proves that the project is truly a self-sustaining community.