Amber Keenoy, LEED AP BD+C – Principal, Star Estimation and Consulting Services
Buildings can represent so much more than simply a “stick and brick” type of scenario. Project teams across the world are engaging in innovative solutions to human over population and extreme energy needs. In construction this is best represented in architecture and the embodied design. These forward thinking designers and project teams are noted for thinking globally but acting locally. Following is a small sampling of relevant and innovative structures that endeavor to think globally while acting locally:
Low Income Housing Development, IBA (Smart Materials House) – Hamburg, Germany
Frank Barkow, Barkow Leibinger Architects, Germany
This low income housing development incorporates low income housing with sustainable and energy efficient elements. This project provides social housing in a low income community outside of Hamburg.
The housing units will combine fast growth fir decking slabs with pre-fabricated lightweight concrete walls. The prefabricated construction elements will be assembled quickly on site thus reducing construction costs. The lightweight concrete which comprises the structural elements of the structure is self insulated and uses recycled foamed glass as an internal aggregate. The concrete used is 1/3 of the weight of conventional concrete and has 1/3 of the carbon impact of conventional poured or precast concretes. Offset by combined use of wood construction with its negative carbon impact allows the building to approach a zero carbon material effect. Structurally the concrete wall elements overlap and stagger as they stack over each other and avoids cold-bridge problems by the use of the self insulating materials. Wall depth wood window frames and triple insulated glass inserts completes the enclosure. The entire building is constructed like a house of cards in terms of speed while generating enormous stability due to the form of the wall elements. The homogeneous concrete walls are embedded with tube conduit that provides conductive heating and cooling through water this is combined with a closed air supply and return system. The wooden windows are operable with triple glazing and an acoustical outlying fixed panel to protect the apartments from nearby traffic noise. The roof is planted with local vegetation and the carports have solar panels. In terms of the architecture, within the context of a post-industrial Wilhelmsburg, the Smart Material House is a compact free-standing structure characterized by the exposed concrete walls and floors. These surfaces condition the interior spaces dynamically, which are also flexible allowing an open loft-like space or partitioning with orthogonal walls as desired. The thick walls reestablish a baroque-like aesthetic of poché long since abolished under the auspices of modernism and the modern curtain wall.
Hill Country Special Economic Zone Office Complex Project, – Hyderabad, India
Mark Igou, Skidmore, Owings, Merrill Architects, India
The Master Plan for the Hill Country Special Economic Zone takes into account local living and work practices along with an analysis of the current state of the region’s infrastructure. Public transportation is the common method for employees to commute to work in India; however the roads around the Hyderabad area do not have the capacity or infrastructure to support all of the proposed development. Therefore, the community has been master planned as a mixed use development, including public amenities such as parks, plazas, and community centers. Living and recreation space for 30,000 people has been planned for. The office complex will house approximately 3,000 workers in the IT sector. Its design as compared to the traditional Indian office complex will have reduced energy consumption by around 40%. The office complex is anticipated to receive a LEED Gold rating. In India, many IT company offices are fairly cramped and have poor natural lighting. To minimize direct sunlight turning buildings into super heated ovens, many offices in India incorporate heavily tinted windows. The effect keeps sunlight out but requires massive amounts of artificial lighting. Power outages are a common occurrence and this disrupts worker productivity, work days, and schedules. As a result, the architectural team challenged this paradigm by understanding climactic challenges and developing design strategies that harnesses their potential. By harnessing the sun’s energy in the concept, they will reconnect those who work within with the wider world outside. The concept originates from India’s ancient architectural philosophy Vastu Sastra which seeks to create harmony between the built environment and the five natural elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. Keeping to this theme meant feeding a plethora of data concerning rainfall, wind direction, sun exposure and temperature into computer models. The modeled climatic conditions and analysis significantly informed the building’s overall design. The office complex is low-rise, constructed in two sections, connected by bridges. The layout is organized around a series of interior courtyards which allows sunlight to penetrate down into the buildings core. This solution optimizes the sun’s energy and decreases dependence on electric lighting. A system of vertical shading fins runs along the full length of the building. The fins are fixed to the building but the angle of their positioning (determined through extensive shading coefficient analysis) varies. The fins are aesthetic as well as functional. They are inspired by the jali, a vernacular perforated stone screen, and incorporate the traditional Kolam pattern. Some other sustainable features of the office complex focus on water use. Rainwater is harvested for irrigation and aquifer replenishment. On-site sewage treatment enables the processing and re-use of grey-water for non potable uses including chilled water for air handling units. Local materials and techniques are also incorporated in the construction process. Based upon the architect’s calculations the higher construction costs will be paid back in two years due to the increased efficiencies in water and energy. The last sustainable component of the office complex will be shown in the increased worker productivity, health, and general well being. This is a welcome by-product of the sustainable design as there is currently a large employee turn-over rate in the IT sector.
Training Centre for Sustainable Construction – Marrakesh, Morocco
Anna Heringer, Architect, Germany
One of the project goals is the transformation of natural, immediate and locally available resources on the lowest possible level of entropy. In Morocco, approximately 30% of the youth in the ages of 15 to 25 are illiterate and have little education. Vocational training is essential to avoid unemployment. The construction sector in Morocco is prospering, but there is a lack of models for sustainable construction that are appropriate in technology as well as sensitive to the cultural identity and the resources of the context. The Training Centre for Sustainability in Chwiter offers the youth from the suburb of Marrakesh the opportunity to learn a future-orientated profession. Analyzing the local context it was assessed that one major traditional building material for any kind of purpose and size, earth, is nowadays only used for fencing-walls and housing in poor, mainly rural areas. There is a lack of improved building technology to re-invent earth as an adequate building material for modern structures. The architectural team adopted traditional know-how supplemented with appropriate modern technologies in order to meet the needs in safety (including earthquakes) and comfort of the present society. The use of the main material earth is planned in different techniques and scales of technology: traditional hand ramming with improved shuttering for the fencing wall, prefabricated rammed earth elements, which include technical support for tempering the offices and classrooms. A concrete load bearing structure filled with precast straw earth blocs, with a plastering of tadelakt (lime plaster) is planned for the auditorium. The necessary shading of the walls will be done with a transformed traditional element of earthen structures: horizontal layers of locally produced ceramic tiles also used as protection against water erosion, with a graphical perforation added, will protect the wall from direct sunlight with an agile ornament of constantly changing shadows. No CO2 emissions and no fossil energy are required for the transport of the main building material (raw earth). Earth construction is based on human labor and the walls can be recycled at the lowest level of entropy with water and human labor or the walls can be decomposed. The buildings will be powered by solar panels with supply air preconditioned in the ground heat exchanger (i.e. foundations). The supply air will then be distributed through the precise, hollow core earth elements with wind catchers transporting the water-cooled air into courtyards and gangways. Rainwater will be collected on all roof areas and courtyards. The earth walls can be built from excavation material, which is a by-product available on site at no cost. The major portion of the profits will remain with the people. The design is inspired from two Moroccan archetypes: the rural ksar, as the compact place of community life and the urban medersa devoted to the training of students. A dynamic architectural sculpture that surrenders patios and gardens plays with sun and shades, static massiveness and rhythmics, rough surfaces and refined shining renderings. It shows a new language for an old material that is deeply rooted in the culture while meeting the needs and dreams of the present society.
The team’s focus is on a global strategy for sustainability while bearing in mind the local population and culture. The team wanted to promote a high level of sustainability based on an intelligent use of natural building resources, grafted with modern technologies and passive design mechanisms, which motivates through a strong, modern architecture. All structures of this project are formed out of earth – with a diversity of techniques: simply replicable building techniques as well as modes of prefabrication, that are important for a mainstream building industry in both industrialized and developing countries. Morocco is a country of great culture in architecture and craftsmanship. The designers of the project wanted to use and celebrate the traditional knowledge in order to keep this treasure of cultural know-how and of social value added. For the architectural team there are no contradictions between tradition and modernity, poetry and function, economics and ecology and sustainability and beauty.
About the Author (Author Profile)
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.