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Green Building: The Latest Architecture and News

Thatched Roofs: History, Performance and Possibilities in Architecture

At first glance, Dorte Mandrup's design for the Wadden Sea Center seems to mimic the landscape. Its low height, its horizontal lines and, above all, its materiality make it a modern building in perfect harmony with the local nature. But its connection also encompasses the built heritage of the region, more specifically because of its covering with straw, harvested and dried close to the land. This is an extremely traditional and historic building technique, but which is rarely attributed to contemporary buildings. In this article we will rescue some of the history of this natural material, its constructive characteristics and some examples of use.

“Soft Infrastructure” Is Crucial for a Post-Carbon World

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

On a recent day in Santa Monica, California, visitors sat in the shaded courtyard outside City Hall East waiting for appointments. One of them ate a slice of the orange she’d picked from the tree above her and contemplated the paintings, photographs, and assemblages on the other side of the glass. The exhibit, Lives that Bind, featured local artists’ expressions of erasure and underrepresentation in Santa Monica’s past. It’s part of an effort by the city government to use the new soon-to-be certified Living Building (designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners) as a catalyst for building a community that is environmentally, socially, and economically self-sustaining.

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.

UNStudio Transforms JetBrains Office into a Green and Immersive Campus

After winning an international competition at the end of 2019, UNStudio has designed the new office of international software development company JetBrains in Saint Petersburg, promoting interaction and sustainability through its architecture, and focusing on the project's three keywords: Connective, Comfortable, and Versatile. UNStudio further developed the design in 2020 and construction is expected to start later this year.

Courtesy of ZOA StudioCourtesy of ZOA StudioCourtesy of ZOA StudioCourtesy of ZOA Studio+ 18

Koichi Takada Unveils World’s Most Dense Vertical Gardens, for a Mixed-Use Highrise in Brisbane, Australia

Urban Forest, a 30-story mixed-use residential high-rise is the latest development designed by Koichi Takada Architects. Located in South Brisbane, Australia, the building features one of the world’s most densely-forested vertical gardens, going beyond regular green buildings norms and achieving “300% site cover with living greenery, featuring 1000 plus trees and more than 20,000 plants selected from 259 native species”. Increasing biodiversity and reducing the ecological footprint, the structure highlights another stage in the evolution of the architectural vertical garden.

© Binyan Studios courtesy of Koichi Takada Architects© Binyan Studios courtesy of Koichi Takada Architects© Binyan Studios courtesy of Koichi Takada Architects© Binyan Studios courtesy of Koichi Takada Architects+ 9

Call for Entries: 2020 UK Passivhaus Awards

The 2020 UK Passivhaus Awards are free to enter for all certified Passivhaus & EnerPHit schemes that not only have architectural ambition but can also prove their impeccable eco credentials. We’re looking for ground-breaking schemes that will prove the Standard can tackle the climate crisis and create healthy environments.

Benefits of Entering:
• The UK Passivhaus Awards are the only dedicated awards for Passivhaus in the UK.
• All shortlisted projects in the awards will be promoted as exceptional examples of their sector through all the Passivhaus Trust marketing channels and the media.
• The shortlisted projects will be featured prominently on

Is Integrating Building Performance Difficult at Your Firm?

In a study recently published by AIA, less than 13% of architectural firms have incorporated building performance as part of their practice. With buildings contributing 40% of total carbon emissions leading to climate change, just 25 projects are roughly equivalent to planting 1 million trees each year. In addition to that, teams that are able to showcase data-driven and performance-driven decision-making and feature an energy analysis in every pursuit are able to increase fees and generate more revenue. Although integrating building performance sounds like a no-brainer, it proves to be difficult at many firms, because in addition to the practical changes, it requires a culture shift. That culture shift can only happen if the tools are easy to use, accurate, and mesh well with current workflows. Right now is the perfect time to tackle these culture changes due to a few reasons:

Stefano Boeri Proposes Vertical Forests for Cairo

Courtesy of The Big PictureCourtesy of The Big PictureCourtesy of The Big Picture+ 9

Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled its vision for the first vertical forests in Africa, in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The 3 cubes or the 3 experimental edifices consisting of one hotel and two residential structures, will be part of the new administrative town plan, under construction in the southeast of the city.

5 Ways to Discuss Building Performance for Your Next Project Pursuit

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Today in the United States, buildings account for nearly 40% of carbon emissions (EESI) and 78% of electricity usage. The most sustainability-focused firms run energy simulations for less than 50% of their projects (10% for a typical firm) and only doing so late in the process when design changes are limited and insufficient to combat red flags found in the performance report (AIA 2030 report). We can make building performance widespread once we help the entire community discuss the subject in terms of investment and return. Especially during a project pursuit, since having the buy in from the whole team helps ensure the key project metrics are met. Owners are seeking out teams who are using actual metrics and data driven processes that affect their bottom line. This new approach to practice is what makes the younger teams’ standout and will benefit both the climate and the bottom-line. Here are 5 ways to talk about building performance in your project pursuits: 

Rwanda’s Bugesera International Airport to Set Records for Sustainability

Rwanda’s largest publicly funded project, Bugesera International Airport is on track to be the first certified green building in the region. A few pieces of this net zero emission complex include: a 30,000 square metre passenger terminal, 22 check-in counters, ten gates, and six passenger boarding bridges. Funded by Public Private Partnership, the project is cost estimated at $414 million USD. The international hub was only one of several initiatives discussed by the Africa Green Growth Forum (AGGF) in Kigali at the end of last year.

Call for Entries: 2018 UK Passivhaus Awards

The Oscars for building performance have returned! The 2018 UK Passivhaus Awards are free to enter for all certified Passivhaus & EnerPHit schemes that not only have architectural ambition, but can also prove their impeccable eco credentials.

Benefits of Entering:
• The UK Passivhaus Awards are the only dedicated awards for Passivhaus in the UK.
• All shortlisted projects in the awards will be promoted as exceptional examples of their sector through all the Passivhaus Trust marketing channels and the media.
• All finalists will present their project at the awards ceremony, due to take place on the 24th October 2018, at London

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo

Excitement is building as preparations take place for the 2017 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, scheduled for Nov. 8-10 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, MA.

Greenbuild, owned and operated by Informa Exhibitions and sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the nation’s largest conference and expo dedicated to sustainable building design and construction. The three-day conference attracts 18,000 attendees and over 500 exhibitors annually from across the green building sector, spanning commercial and residential professionals, architects, building owners and operators, students, advocates, and educators.

Vertical Village - SOM Leads Design of Major Mixed-Use District in Bangkok

Chicago-based Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) has unveiled plans for One Bangkok, a new 16Ha mixed-use development in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Working in collaboration with architects, engineers, sustainability experts and landscape architects, both local and international, SOM seeks to create the single largest private-sector development in Thailand to date - a vertical village providing homes and places of work for an estimated 60,000 people. Through One Bangkok, SOM challenged themselves to translate the vibrancy and energy of Bangkok's neighborhoods into a vertical environment, whilst promoting a 'sense of place' and district-level sustainability.

One Bangkok will provide retail, hotels, offices, as well as homes for 60,000 people. Image Courtesy of SOM via AtchainSituated adjacent to Lumphini Park, the scheme offers 8Ha of public space. Image Courtesy of SOM via AtchainStreetscapes, public plazas and greenspaces all contribute to a welcoming sense of place. Image Courtesy of SOM via AtchainA variety of towers will feature individual identities such as green terraces and sky gardens. Image Courtesy of SOM via Atchain+ 4

Fact-Finding Mission to Germany: Energy Efficiency in Buildings

The fact-finding mission to Germany for US Architects is part of the "Energy Efficiency - Made in Germany" initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and is organized by energiewaechter GmbH and the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. in New York. Joining the fact-finding mission to Frankfurt and Darmstadt will give US Architects the opportunity to learn about innovative German technologies and services in the field of energy efficient buildings and passive house.

Natural Building Techniques Inspired From Traditional Constructions

The workshop is organized by SADAS-PEA (Greek Architects Association) in order to promote the principle of environmentally friendly architecture. It is addressed to young architects and students of architecture. It will take place at the Stamos Stournas guesthouse near the city of Volos, Greece between September 17th and September 25th 2016.

Are Tree-Covered Skyscrapers Really All They Set Out to Be?

Are tree covered buildings really in tune with ecological and sustainable principles, or are they just a form of greenwashing? This is the question posed by Kurt Kohlstedt in his essay, Renderings vs. Reality: The Improbable Rise of Tree-Covered Skyscrapers, for 99% Invisible. The author notes that vegetated designs come about for myriad reasons – the appearance of sustainability, better air and views, investment intrigue – but that most of these concepts will never leave the realm of paper or virtual architecture. For as many reasons that these buildings have become popular, there are detractors for why they simply cannot be built, including daunting construction hurdles (extra concrete and steel), vast irrigation systems, added wind load complexities, and the trees themselves having difficulty adapting to their vertiginous conditions.