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Sergio Grazia

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Jaurès Petit Housings / archi5

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Designing Virtuous Buildings: 6 Projects that Combine Sustainability and Performance

The clothes used by nomadic peoples in the desert (Bedouins, Berbers, Tuareg, among others) are usually dark, long and made of heavy fabric. Contrary to common sense, which would recommend light, pale and short clothes for a hot climate; heavy and loose clothing favors air convection, creating a constant flow of air along the body, providing thermal comfort in arid climates. For buildings, the analogy works. When approaching energy efficiency and project performance, we will inevitably talk about its envelope, among other aspects of the project. A successful solution in one location, will not always be efficient in another.

During the last 2 years we have created a series of articles on wellness and sustainability focused on the construction industry. But how do projects, according to their demands and context, apply the solutions to make them, in fact, efficient and perform well?

As Climate Becomes Extreme, How to Deal with the Building Envelope?

House with Gable / mia2/Architektur. Image © Kurt Hörbst
House with Gable / mia2/Architektur. Image © Kurt Hörbst

When talking about energy efficiency in buildings, it is inevitable to mention thermal insulation. We rarely see it in a finished building and, even in the technical drawings, the insulating layer appears as a thin hatch. But this is an element that is of vital importance, as it acts as a barrier to the flow of heat, hindering the exchange of energy between the interior and the exterior, reducing the amount of heat that escapes in winter and the thermal energy that enters in the summer. In a building with good thermal insulation, there is less need for heating to keep the house at a pleasant temperature, also reducing its carbon footprint. Currently, there are many countries that require a minimum level of thermal insulation for buildings, with increasingly strict parameters. But how should this issue be dealt with in the near future, with the worrying climate crisis forecast?

Shared Company Restaurant / Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés

© Stefan Tuchila
© Stefan Tuchila

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Montpellier, France

Orange Headquarters / Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés

© Sergio Grazia
© Sergio Grazia

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Jean Louis Étienne School / archi5

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Cultural Centers: 50 Examples in Plan and Section

How many times have you been faced with the challenge of designing a cultural center? While this may seem like quite a feat, many architects have had to design a program that blends a community center with culture.

Among the projects published on our site, we have found numerous examples that highlight different responses, from flexible configurations to sites that prioritize central gathering areas for citizens and activities. See our series of 50 community centers and their plans and sections below.

Cortesía de Mecanoo© Adam Mørk© Gonzalo Viramonte© Stephan Lucas+ 148

Can Green Roofs Make Our Cities Better?

Researchers credit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as the first examples of green roofs. Although there is no proof of its exact location and very little literature on the structure, the most accepted theory is that King Nebuchadnezzar II built a series of elevated, ascending terraces with varied species as a gift to his wife, who missed the forests and mountains of Persia, their local land. According to Wolf Schneider [1] the gardens were supported by brick vaults, and under them, there were shaded halls cooled by artificial irrigation of the gardens, with a much milder temperature than the outside, in the plains of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Since then, examples of green roofs have appeared all over the world, from Rome to Scandinavia, in the most diverse climates and types.

Nevertheless, inserting plants on roofs is still viewed with suspicion by many, as they are thought to be costly and difficult to maintain. Others, however, argue that the high implementation costs are quickly offset with savings in air conditioning and especially that occupying the building's fifth façade with vegetation is, above all, a rational solution. In any case, the question remains as to how green roofs can really help with climate change.

Open Air: New Ways We Can Live Together in Nature

“We need a new spatial contract." This is the call of Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Venice Biennale 2021, as an invitation for architects to imagine new spaces in which we can live together. Between a move towards urban flight and global housing crises, the growth of more low-rise, dense developments may provide an answer in the countryside. Turning away from single family homes in rural areas and suburbs, modern housing projects are exploring new models of shared living in nature.

© Shu He© HG Esch© Christian Wöckinger© Dio Guna Putra+ 13

Parfums Christian Dior Company Restaurant / Palissad Architectures

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Saint-Jean-de-Braye, France

Rosa Parks School Complex / Brénac & Gonzalez & Associés

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More Daylight but Less Glare & Heat: How Does Automatically Tintable Glass Work?

In a 2016 survey of 400 employees in the U.S., Saint-Gobain found that office building occupants commonly complained about poor lighting, temperature, noise, and air quality, leading the company to deduce a need for improved lighting and thermal comfort in buildings while also maintaining low energy consumption and freedom of design for architects and clients. Their solution was SageGlass, an innovative glass created first in 1989 and developed over the course of the past three decades. The glass, which features dynamic glazing protecting from solar heat and glare, simultaneously optimizes natural light intake. A sustainable and aesthetic solution, SageGlass’ adaptability to external conditions dispels the need for shutters or blinds.

Media Library in Colombes / Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés

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Divers(e) Cité Jardin Apartment Complex / Saison Menu Architectes Urbanistes

© Marcin Wieczorek© Sergio Grazia© Marcin Wieczorek© Sergio Grazia+ 15