As a student of architecture and hopefully a future architect, I find myself questioning what architecture is now and what it should be in the future. I believe that over and above being beautiful, liveable and all the other aspects that have been explored in the past, architecture should be sustainable. Following legislation by the UK government that all new residential homes must be zero carbon by 2016, it is mandatory that architects of the future understand and appreciate the importance of sustainable architecture. I personally realise the necessity of sustainable architecture in the future, and as such I have chosen to concentrate on how architects can learn to build intelligently, by borrowing from the work of western architects. For instance, Mies Van de Rohe aimed to “bring nature, houses and human beings together in a higher unity (Mies 1959)”. He believed that a house should be integrated into nature so that an effortless harmony exists, and as such his designs involved the use of natural colours, shapes, and geometry e.g. the Farnsworth House. Meanwhile, Frank Lloyd Wright believed that people should experience nature first hand rather than have it as a part of their surroundings, as in Fallingwater. For the purpose of this manifesto, I have chosen to take a more general definition of what sustainable architecture is. Sustainable architecture or “green” architecture generally refers to an approach to building design that aims to have as little impact on the environment as possible. A green building is “any building that has significantly lower negative environmental impacts than traditional buildings”. Sustainable architecture has become more so important to architects over the last few due to the changing global climate. As such, the environment has become more of a priority to architects as of the early 21st century as they ensure that their designs are energy efficient in terms of lighting, heating, ventilation etc. The aim is to ensure that our actions today do not worsen the current climate problem or inhibit the opportunities for future generations. The question then remains how exactly do architects design sustainably? The design process involves being able to build intelligently. This is achieved increased energy efficiency, the use of environmentally friendly materials, and careful consideration of development space. Simple techniques include white walls to emit solar radiation rather than absorb it and thus reduce cooling costs, the use of natural and local or recycled materials, locating residential buildings as close to public transport, schools, and shopping centres as is reasonably possible. More advanced techniques include orienting a building in the north hemisphere towards the sun such that it is warmed through the day reducing heating costs, the addition of green roofs and living walls to improve heating, geothermal energy for heating, reclaimed water for flushing toilets etc. Most times the addition of such “green ideas” is also aesthetically important as the addition of some elements will make the building both more beautiful to look at as well as more environmentally friendly. The following are case studies I have chosen to illustrate how a “sustainable frame of mind” can be applied to the design process of a building while preserving or even enhancing its aesthetic beauty. I chose to analyse only buildings that were built for residential purposes since the legislation passed for 2016 applies to these types of buildings. In addition to this, while the concept of green architecture may be increasingly popular in commercial type buildings, residential buildings offer an ideal testing ground for new ideas. Indeed, many breakthroughs in sustainable architecture were first discovered through residential designs. The examples range all the way from 1935 up until 2001 and are as follows:
Farnsworth House by Mies Van De Rohe, Illinois USA, 1950 •
Bibliography: (All last accessed 2 Jan 2011)
Books (cited and background reading)
1. Stang, Alanna and Christopher Hawthorne The Green House. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005.
2. Smith, Peter Architecture in a climate of change. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2001.
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