Country houses usually are found in remote areas, therefore, they often demand placement strategies that respect the context and dialogue with the landscape while bringing more thermal comfort and natural lighting. Most of the time, these solutions bring passive strategies that, along with the choice of materials and construction techniques, can provide an even more sustainable project. Get to know seven Brazilian residences that are examples of this theme.
Sustainability: The Latest Architecture and News
In interior design – and many other design disciplines – it is much easier to be unsustainable. Buying or developing custom solutions for a room often requires less time and research than purchasing second-hand materials or concern for waste flow and the circular economy.
But the construction and decoration industry can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring the environmental impacts caused by their activities.
Interior architects and designers have often claimed that a well-designed office space will translate into greater productivity, creativity and worker satisfaction –yet the impact is greater than most tend to imagine. Recent studies suggest that good design positively impacts company culture, fosters a sense of community and creates a healthy, happy and motivating environment. In fact, it directly influences the recruitment and retention of talent: “workplace design significantly increases the attractiveness of employers to potential candidates.” Proper lighting, a flexible layout and biophilic features are all important factors to consider during the planning stage. But to fully address user comfort and well-being, these must be combined with excellent furniture design. After all, integrating high-quality ergonomic pieces is a simple way to boost mood and enhance functionality and aesthetics when creating or redecorating the workspace.
The 2022 United Nations Conference of the Parties, more commonly referred to as COP27, was held between November 6 and November 18, 2022, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The conference included more than 90 heads of state and an estimated 35,000 representatives, or delegates, from 190 countries. These conferences are aimed at encouraging and guiding countries to take effective action against climate change. While the conferences address a larger set of issues, the built environment is recognized as playing a major role in ensuring that sustainability targets are achieved.
The Building to COP27, a group of sustainability-focused built environment NGOs and organizations, is working to position the built environment as a critical sector to achieve the needed transition to a resilient and zero emissions future at COP conferences. The group aims to raise awareness of the impact that the building sector can have while pointing out that more drastic measures need to be taken, as most countries do not include full building decarbonization targets, and certain areas, such as building materials are under-addressed.
Recent statistics suggest that if someone lives until they are 80, around 72 of those years will be spent inside buildings. This makes sense if we bear in mind that, when not at home, humans are working, learning or engaging in fun activities mostly in enclosed, built settings. Contemplating current events, however, this number is expected to grow. In an increasingly chaotic and uncertain world, marked by the ongoing effects of climate change and the global pandemic, the desire to stay indoors in a protected, controlled and peaceful environment is stronger than ever. Architects face an important challenge: to create comfortable, productive and healthy interiors with well-regulated parameters, considering factors like indoor air quality, daylighting and biophilic features from the initial stages of design. Of course, this involves choosing materials sensitively and accordingly, whether it be by avoiding certain health-harming components or by integrating non-toxic products that soothe and promote wellness.
There was a time when buildings wanted to be mountains, roofs wanted to be forests, and pillars wanted to be trees. As the world began to go into a state of alert with the melting of glaciers and the consequent rise of Earth’s temperature, architecture – from a general perspective – was concerned with imitating the shapes of nature. Something close to human-made “ecosystems”, seen by many as allegoric and decorative, in service of marketable images of “sustainable development”.
“Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was a wake-up call for NYC and made the city realize it needed to better prepare for climate change,” said Adrian Smith, FASLA, vice president at ASLA and team leader of Staten Island capital projects with NYC Parks. Due to storm surges from Sandy, “several people in Staten Island perished, and millions in property damage were sustained.”
On the 10th anniversary of Sandy, Smith, along with Pippa Brashear, ASLA, principal at SCAPE, and Donna Walcavage, FASLA, principal at Stantec, explained how designing with nature can lead to more resilient shoreline communities. During Climate Week NYC, they walked an online crowd of hundreds through two interconnected projects on the southwestern end of the island: Living Breakwaters and its companion on land — the Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project.
The motto of the Solar Decathlon Europe 21/22 was to convert and expand rather than to demolish and reconstruct. Recycling windows, using biodegradable materials for luminaires and connecting light with sensors represented just some innovative examples of the international university-level student competition in Wuppertal, Germany. For the first time, the competition presented an award for sustainable architectural lighting. This was a question of quality as much as quantity, and that applies equally to daylight and artificial light.
One of the most significant cultural events in the Middle East, Dubai Design Week represents a platform that offers individuals and companies the opportunity to showcase their design experience and to open conversations about the most pressing issues of our times. Developed in a strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), the event presents a series of immersive, large-scale installations that highlight the festival’s theme: Design with Impact.
This year’s program is focused on designing a sustainable future. To promote this, Dubai Design Week has invited international and regional architects and designers to create installations that demonstrate creative design thinking, to introduce innovative materials, and spark conversations about the ways in which design can have a positive impact on the environment.
At a historical moment when industrialization and urbanization are continuing at a fast and predatory pace, we need to design and produce spaces that can adapt to new realities. Based on this need, concepts that can guide the transformation and production of future cities emerge.
Cities are filled with waste materials and the need to reuse existing resources has become key in fighting the increase in waste production. More than a third of all the waste generated in the EU comes from construction and demolition, containing different materials such as glass, concrete, bricks and ceramics. But how to manage this staggering amount of waste production from construction? According to the Spanish Law on Waste and Contaminating Soils, concrete and ceramic waste with no considerable processing can both be reused in construction . By combining reused material waste with technology, architectural design can create innovative solutions that contribute to minimizing environmental impact.
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.
As climate change continues to reach unprecedented levels, many are pointing towards enhancing circularity in the construction sector. Essentially, the circular economy aims to eliminate waste and the continual use of resources by repeatedly reusing, repairing or recycling materials. The cyclical approach is able to meet demand and minimize CO2 emissions by extending a product’s lifespan, which is especially important when dealing with limited resources. Unlike the traditional linear extractive method –where everything goes through an extremely contaminating process of 'take-make-waste'–, circularity keeps materials in use for as long as possible to extract maximum value. This, in turn, reduces pollution, regenerates natural systems and contributes to a healthier built environment, hence building economic, natural, and social capital.
Danish Maritime Architecture Studio MAST has developed the “Land on Water” project, a system that provides an adaptable solution to building almost anything on the water: floating homes, campsites, even small parks, and community centers. The project represents a response to the acknowledgment of raising sea levels and increased risks of urban flooding, which has led to a growing interest in adapting architecture to be built on water. The “Land on Water” proposes a flexible and sustainable solution, a departure point from previous solutions, which are proven to be difficult to adapt, transport and are often using unsustainable materials such as polystyrene-filled concrete foundations or plastic pontoons. The project is developed with the support of Hubert Rhomberg & venture studio FRAGILE.
From smartphones to space rockets and self-driving cars, the power of technology in this modern digital era is enormous (and practically limitless). It has impacted every aspect of our lives and will continue to open up endless possibilities that today we cannot even begin to fathom. When applied in a socially and environmentally responsible way, technology has the power to enhance productivity, communication and sustainability, enabling global communities to function efficiently, addressing people’s everyday needs and improving their quality of life. Simply put, good technology serves humanity. And just as the healthcare or manufacturing industries have taken advantage of this, the architecture, design and construction world cannot fall behind.