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Sustainable Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News

Francis Kéré: "I Draw on Paper, but I Prefer to Draw on the Ground"

"I Draw on Paper, but I Prefer to Draw on the Ground". This phrase caught my eye during Diébédo Francis Kéré's speech at the AAICO (Architecture and Art International Congress), which took place in Porto, Portugal from September 3 to 8, 2018. After being introduced by none other than Eduardo Souto de Moura, Kéré began his speech with the simplicity and humility that guides his work. His best-known works were built in remote places, where materials are scarce and the workforce is of the residents themselves, using local resources and techniques.

Arup Designs Carbon Neutral Tower in Hong Kong

Arup reveals the competition-winning design for a 230m tall net-zero commercial tower in Hong Kong that embodies the city's aspirations to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Taikoo Green Ribbon blends technology and nature to create an urban ecosystem sustaining a new generation of workplaces. Featuring a façade of curved PVs, hanging gardens, algae walls and various renewable energy sources, the project is a high-performance building slated to achieve carbon neutrality in less than a decade after construction.

Courtesy of ArupCourtesy of ArupCourtesy of ArupCourtesy of Arup+ 17

At Dutch Design Week 2021 A Building Made of Biobased Materials Illustrates The Possibilities of Circular Design

© Oscar Vinck and Jeroen van der Wielen
© Oscar Vinck and Jeroen van der Wielen

At the Dutch Design Week, a house created entirely from bio-based materials aims to illustrate that circular design is not only feasible but a scaleable construction method for the future. Featuring 100 types of sustainable materials, The Exploded View Beyond Building is a concrete example of the possibilities of creating a circular living environment, bringing together substantial research into high-quality components fit for disassembly and modular design.

© Ketelhuisplein© Ketelhuisplein© Ketelhuisplein© Ketelhuisplein+ 12

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.

How to Build with Zero-Kilometer Wood? The Experience of The Voxel in Barcelona

Zero kilometer materials can be purchased locally, do not need to be transformed by large stages of industrial processing or toxic treatments and, at the end of their service life, they can be returned to the environment.

For example, wood from a nearby forest eliminates the need for long transfers, valuing local resources, and allowing architecture to lessen its environmental impact while committed to the landscape and context.

MVRDV Reveals Design of Green Barcode-Inspired Housing Unit in Amsterdam

MVRDV has revealed the design of "De Oosterlingen", a series of seven sustainable residential buildings on Amsterdam’s Oostenburg Island. The proposed buildings are distributed in a 'barcode' composition, forming an apparent unified design but with an animated skyline and unique characteristics such as varying roof shapes and façades of wood, glass, recycled brick, and bio-based composite.

© MVRDV© Proloog© Proloog© MVRDV+ 5

Bjarke Ingels Group to Design Mega-Sustainable Infinity Loop on the Hangzhou Horizon

Nestled in the heart of Yuhang District, Bjarke Ingels Group’s design for the new OPPO R&D Headquarters, China’s largest smartphone company, combines aesthetics and innovative technology in a building that will be an environmental, economical, and socially sustainable hub for innovation.

Courtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels GroupTop View. Image Courtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels GroupCourtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels GroupCourtesy of BIG - Bjark Ingels Group+ 12

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

Francis Kéré Receives the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture

Founder of the Berlin-based firm Kéré Architecture, Francis Kéré, has won the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. Presented by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the award is one of four honors recognizing achievements in architecture, citizen leaderships, global innovation, and law. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals recognize the exemplary contributions of recipients to the endeavors in which Jefferson excelled and held in high regard.

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, designed by Francis Kéré.. Image © Iwan BaanXylem Pavilion / Kéré Architecture. Image © Iwan BaanPrimary School in Gando Extension. Image Courtesy of Kéré ArchitectureBenin's National Assembly in Porto-Novo Proposal. Image Courtesy of Kéré Architecture+ 12

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?

Bio-climatic Fixtures in Buenos Aires' Houses as Seen In Floor Plans and Layout

House N / Estudio GM ARQ. Image Golf House / BAM! arquitectura. Image AC House / Estudio GM ARQ. Image PYE House / BAM! arquitectura. Image + 20

The principles of bio-climatic architecture, when applied with an understanding of the surrounding climate and geography, can simultaneously increase a building's efficiency and create a more comfortable living space. Passive measures like solar panels, rainwater and grey water harvesting, openings for natural light, and cross-ventilation are all low-cost, high yield methods of increasing a home's thermal comfort and efficiency and decreasing its carbon footprint.

Endless “Sustainable” Growth is an Oxymoron

This article was originally published on Common Edge

In a Common Edge article, I briefly discussed a concept that I call the “Triple Bottom Lie,” which posits that more people, plus more consumption by each person, plus an economic system completely dependent on the aforementioned items, can just keep working forever, without consequences. Historically, the United States has accepted the economic shibboleth of endless growth because it reduced class conflict; a rising tide (supposedly) lifted all boats, rafts and yachts included. We are, however, approaching the limits of growth, from both a resource standpoint (we’re running out of raw materials) and a technological standpoint (our inventions are progressively less revolutionary).

MVRDV Breaks Ground on Matrix 1, a Sustainable Office and Laboratory Complex in Amsterdam

Construction has begun on MVRDV’s six-story sustainable office and laboratory complex. Located in the heart of Amsterdam Science Park, in the eastern part of the city, the project, designed for the Matrix Innovation Center, “will be virtually energy neutral and uses demountable construction techniques”.

Courtesy of MVRDVCourtesy of MVRDVCourtesy of MVRDVCourtesy of MVRDV+ 9