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Green Infrastructure: The Latest Architecture and News

MVRDV Wins Competition to Design the Master Plan for a Taiwanese Town’s Water Network

International office MVRDV has been selected by the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs to design the Hoowave Water Factory, a large-scale redevelopment of Huwei’s Beigang and Anqingzhen waterways. The project combines a strategic master plan with the landscape design in an effort to move beyond the mono-functional approach for controlling and distributing water. Besides storing and capturing water, the proposal also opens up access to the river and the natural ecosystem by integrating cycling paths, cultural amenities, and ecological systems. The master plan also includes a comprehensive strategy for flood resilience while improving the quantity and quality of available water. The project is expected to be completed in 2026.

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Abandoned Airport near Athens, Greece, Set to be Transformed into Europe’s Largest Coastal Park

The Athens International Airport was decommissioned in 2001, leading to two decades of work for the local government to establish funding and a governance mechanism to transform the 600 acres of unused space into Europe’s largest coastal park. The site has a layered history, from prehistoric settlements to the construction of the airport in the 20th century and the site being used for as an Olympic venue in 2004. Architecture office Sasaki is leading the design to transform the site again and create the Ellinikon Metropolitan Park, a restorative landscape and climate-positive design that will serve as a park, playground, and cultural center for the city of Athens. Developers are planning to break ground early next year.

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URB Reveals Design for Africa’s Largest Sustainable City

URB has unveiled plans to develop Africa's most sustainable city, a development that can host 150,000 residents. Known as The Parks, the city plans to produce 100% of its energy, water & food on-site through biodomes, solar-powered air-to-water generators, and biogas production. The 1,700-hectare project will feature residential, medical, ecotourism, and educational hubs to become one of the significant contributors to the growing green and tech economy in South Africa.

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Urban Agency and COBE Design Master Plan for Esch-Sur-Alzette in Luxembourg

Urban Agency, in partnership with COBE, won in 2019 a competition to transform a former steel factory into an 850,000 square meters car-free mixed-use district. The industrial site is planned to become a mixed-use district, with housing for over 8,000 new residents, office spaces, schools, workshop spaces, and 268,000 square meters of landscape, including a reactivated river area. The master plan strategies focus on urban nature, renaturalization, preservation and reuse, car-free streets, and an adapted dense mix of buildings and functions.

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XZero City is Kuwait’s Proposal for a Self-Sufficient Smart City

Kuwait is planning a 1,600-hectare development that will provide residential units, jobs, and amenities for 100,000 residents. Developed by URB, the ambitious project aims to promote a sustainable lifestyle with high standards of living, yet a low impact on the environment. The masterplan for the smart city is designed to optimize density and amenities distribution to create a walkable city, while also optimizing the green space ratio. This will help mitigate the effects of rising temperatures and the urban heat island effect. The green transportation systems and dedicated cycling tracks will make this a car-free city, apart from a ring road that allows for limited vehicular access. The city also promotes a circular economy that aims to provide food and energy security for the residents.

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New Green Spaces Don’t Have to Lead to Gentrification

Decades of redlining and urban renewal, rooted in racist planning and design policies, created the conditions for gentrification to occur in American cities. But the primary concern with gentrification today is displacement, which primarily impacts marginalized communities shaped by a history of being denied access to mortgages. At the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Matthew Williams, ASLA, with the City of Detroit’s planning department, said in his city there are concerns that new green spaces will increase the market value of homes and “price out marginalized communities.” But investment in green space doesn’t necessarily need to lead to displacement. If these projects are led by marginalized communities, they can be embraced.

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21 African Nations Fight Desertification with 8,000 Kilometer Long Great Green Wall

African nations are fighting climate change with an 8,000 kilometer long Great Green Wall meant to combat the desertification of the Sahel region, home to over 100 million people. Spanning the entire width of the African continent, the movement aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural Africa by 2030. Stretching from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, the project is the joint effort of 21 African nations that strive to restore the once lush region and protect the livelihoods of local communities.

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“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.

Is There Anything More Natural Than Nature? Our Readers Weigh In On "Green" Houses

In many cases, I haven't been able to decide whether a building full of trees fits into the "sustainable" category. In fact, I've often had to make the argument that such a building is far from it. 

It seems that the vast majority of contemporary marketing for sustainable architecture operates under the guise of greenwashing. What's more, the line between what truly creates healthier and more sustainable living spaces and what doesn't is often a blurred one.

To see just how blurred this line is, we asked our readers to weigh in on just what makes a house "green". Is it being able to trace the source of your building materials and knowing the people who harvest, process, and sell them? Is it the ability to fulfill the day-to-day needs of the inhabitants using renewable resources?

How Are Public Washrooms Shaping Places in China?

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Public Toilets in Zuzhai Village / cnS. Image © Siming Wu

In recent years, with the accelerated urban development of public spaces in China, public washrooms have been assigned numerous new roles. Designers have come up with a variety of proposals which suggest turning public washrooms into a place where social gathering can be redefined, and temporary stay can be more engaging. Although the scale of public washrooms is significantly smaller than that of any other type of architecture, Chinese architects have been working innovatively on fitting the public washrooms into the changing social contexts. Below are a few examples that demonstrate some current architectural experiments with public washroom design in China.

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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:

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.

The Eco-Friendly Floating Cities of the Future

As the world population grows, designers look to develop the seas. Architecture and planning firm, URBAN POWER strategically designed nine man-made islands off the southern coast of Copenhagen to combat many of the city’s impending challenges. The islets, called Holmene, address demands for tech space, fossil-free energy production, flood barriers, and even public recreation space.

Cold Pavilion and Warm Pavilion / Atelier Lai

Cold Pavilion and Warm Pavilion / Atelier Lai - Public Architecture, Courtyard, FacadeCold Pavilion and Warm Pavilion / Atelier Lai - Public Architecture, Courtyard, Beam, Facade, Column, Table, ChairCold Pavilion and Warm Pavilion / Atelier Lai - Public Architecture, FacadeCold Pavilion and Warm Pavilion / Atelier Lai - Public Architecture, Deck, Beam, ColumnCold Pavilion and Warm Pavilion / Atelier Lai - More Images+ 37

  • Architects: Atelier Lai
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area :  150
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year :  2016

Snøhetta Designs Sustainable Data Center as "The Body and Brain of Future Cities"

Snøhetta has released images of its proposed sustainable data center concept, named “The Spark.” The project seeks to address the typical high-energy-consuming typology of the data center, transforming it into an “energy-producing resource for communities to generate their own power.”

The proposal is adaptable for a wide range of contexts and can be scaled for any location around the world, fueling connected cities with energy from the center’s excess heat.

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