Saturday, April 30, 2016

Three places to live and/or work that may change your mind about sustainable architecture

Although not everyone in the US Congress seems to have gotten the memo, in this age of impending global climate change people all over the world are seeking out new and better ways to live sustainably--and it's a very hot trend in contemporary architecture. Here are three visually striking examples you may find game-changing.

8 House in Copenhagen
Built in the shape of a figure 8 (if viewed from above), Bjarke Ingels' 8 House is a mixed-use development in a southern suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark

The biggest innovation is the designer's idea to create an intimate kind of urban environment by "stacking the various ingredients of an urban neighborhood into layers," (Wikipedia) so the development's walkability and convenience is greatly enhanced. Other sustainable features include the strategic use of the "heat island" effect, and green roofs.

8 House, when under construction: the reason for the name becomes clear.
Everyone has an interesting view in 8 House.
Evening waterside view of 8 House.
O14 Tower in Dubai
Dubai is a product of its rulers' particular vision: wealthy from oil, but focused on making itself "cutting edge" in many ways, while the oil wealth lasts and can be used to build something more sustainable. Interestingly for a place literally built with oil money, there seems to be considerable support for sustainability in recent projects (could these guys please have a heart-to-heart with the Koch Brothers?). 

The 22-story O14 Tower's structure is specifically designed for the desert climate of Dubai, with a 16"-thick outer facade covered with circular perforations. The holes provide light and air, but the rest of the "exoskeleton" acts as protection for the windows, and a solar shield. A one-meter gap between the facade and the building inside also provides passive cooling because creates a chimney effect in which the hot air rises.

RUR Architecture's innovative design for the O14 Tower creates a visually striking building with many practical features.
The holes provide access for more than light and air, when needed.
This view of O14 Tower under construction gives an idea of its scale.

FTP University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Another example of innovative design that is much more literally "green" than our first two designs is the FTP University, now under construction in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (all the images are renderings, because the project isn't finished yet). 

Designed as something of a sustainable answer to the flat landscape and vertical buildings that dominate the city, the FTP University buildings are supposed to appear as "an undulating forested mountain growing out of the city of concrete and brick" (Vo Trong Nghia Architects). It actually will create more greenery than it is displacing as it is being built. 

An "undulating forested mountain" is coming to Ho Chi Minh City. 
It almost looks as if the forest has taken over--but looks can be deceiving Down below the "canopy," the humans will still hold forth.
Down under the trees it will be cooler and quieter. What a great place to study for one's final!

IMAGES: Many thanks to World Landscape Architect for the 8 House-under-construction image, and to E-Architect UK for the images of the courtyard and waterside view. All three photos of the O14 Tower are courtesy of Inhabitat. The renderings of buildings for FTP University are courtesy of Vo Trong Nghia Architects, designers for the project.

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