From Past to Future: The Urgency of "Green" in Architecture

From Past to Future: The Urgency of "Green" in Architecture

The climate crisis has revealed the poor planning of our cities and the spaces we inhabit. Both construction and projects contribute to high carbon gas emissions. Fortunately, there are several ways to intervene to bring change into this scenario, either through materials and techniques adopted in each initiative or through geographical and social impact. In this scenario, the only certainty is that: to think about the future we cannot ignore the "green" in all its recent meanings from nature to sustainability, and ecology.

There is no debate in stating that the future is allied to the subject of the environment. In 2001, Architectural Design: Green Architecture, an International Comparison already brought an overview of the theme, introducing green architecture at an international level. The publication was interspersed with "Green Questionnaires", which offered the perspective of great international architects on the topic, such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Thomas Herzog, Jan Kaplicky, and Ken Yeang.

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The Macallan New Distillery and Visitors Experience / Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Photo: © Joas Souza
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Vatican Chapel / Foster + Partners. Photo: © Nigel Young / Foster+Partners

Two decades ago, these names already pointed out the urgency of looking at issues such as the environmental impact of buildings, the need to adopt renewable energy, the way we think about materials in buildings, the adversities of urban sprawl, and interconnectivity with natural systems. All of these topics are now more current than ever, but the debate has not stopped progressing, even slowly. 

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2030 - São Paulo, city as forest. Image: © Atelier Marko Brajovic

The Croatian-Brazilian architect Marko Brajovic, who has his work aligned with biomimicry, approaches the subject in a primordial way, saying that "plants look "green" because the special pair of chlorophyll molecules uses the red end of the visible light spectrum to power reactions inside each cell" and then argues, that "green is about the flow of energy, matter and information into the system of Life. Architects are system thinkers and should understand the complexity of architecture as an organism, as a metabolic process inter-dependent with the environment, in constant transformation. That was the history of architecture, how it evolved through centuries adapting to changing conditions and how it has to evolve in this new challenging time."

Architecture has to anticipate and envision the future, urgently evolving the actual anthropocentric (and mechanistic) perception into an ecological activity of inter-relationship with the Natural environment. Architecture integrated with the metabolic process of our planet design for co-existence with all species where humans can benefit mutually. – Marko Brajovic

Lastly, he concludes that "future is about synchronicity of architecture with the natural processes, as intelligent, resilient and meaningful sense of Life".

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ARCA House / Atelier Marko Brajovic. Photo: © Victor Affaro

On the other side of the planet, in Vietnam, the office HGAA reminds us that "there is not only Green Architecture but also Green Economy, Green Industry, Green Energy and sustainable agriculture, and any human activities which need to be considered when thinking about the environment and climate change", and concludes that "'Green' is not only about plants or trees. Green has become related to all the necessary issues like living, working, playing, traveling, etc. We need to immerse ourselves in nature every day so that we can protect the environment and use energy efficiently. So, 'Green' can become an indispensable and compulsory work to do in the present as well as in the future to be able to bring the world into habitat equilibrium".

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My Montessori Garden Preschool / HGAA. Photo: © Duc Nguyen

The firm also talks about the recent history of Vietnam that can serve as an example for many other countries: a crisis aggravated by migration to large urban centers along with a special mentality, of citizens and investors who are more concerned with the cost of construction instead of thinking about the execution. These factors intensify the low living conditions of the population and, most of the time, produce spaces without quality for human activities.  

However, after several years of economic development, this scenario has changed in Vietnam as the importance and need for green spaces, harmony with nature, and useful environments are more valued. Therefore, today, " in many Vietnamese’s architectural projects, some Vietnamese architects and investors care and are interested in the environment, which not only brings many benefits to the users but also brings many benefits to societies and communities as well as spreading messages of environment protection".

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My Montessori Garden Preschool / HGAA. Photo: © Duc Nguyen

If twenty years ago "green" was considered on the agenda of architectural discussions, today it has certainly proven to be an inseparable term from this discipline, essential to conceive the future of humanity. As we can observe in the conclusion of the Vietnamese architects' thought, it is necessary to understand new horizon possibilities for conciliation between civil construction and nature:

In the future, we need to have further and better long-term vision for environmental issues such as the enactment of regulations, legislation and policies for plannings and specific architectural solutions. Each individual in society should have specific thoughts and actions which protect the environment and soon bring the living environment back to a state of balance in order to ensure the sustainable development of humanity. – HGAA

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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' Sky Garden will be an "Urban Living Room" for Shenzhen. Image via Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Green. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.

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Cite: Delaqua, Victor. "From Past to Future: The Urgency of "Green" in Architecture" [Do passado ao futuro: a urgência do "verde" na Arquitetura] 10 Mar 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Greenery Curtain House / HGAA. Photo: © Duc Nguyen

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