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EARTH DAY 2019

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” – Henry David Thoreau
 
Green Cast facade by Kengo Kuma and Associates
image – © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Every year, on April 22nd, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness and support environmental protection. Addressing a different issue each year, 2019 focuses on the theme of protecting our species.

In honor of Earth Day, we look at some outstanding sustainable buildings that work with nature and pave the way for a greener planet.


Green Cast
Street view of Green Cast by Kengo Kuma and Associates
image – © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Architect: Kengo Kuma & Associates

Location: Odawara-shi, Japan

Year: 2011

Sustainability Concept: Incorporation of plants

Located in central Japan, in Odawara, the complex indubitably stands out for its visually striking living façade.

The structure is covered with a pattern of aluminium die-cast panels, acting as vertical planters. The decayed styrene, which was used to form the panels, gives the cast a natural and porous feel. The technical systems needed to keep the façade alive and thriving, such as watering pipes and an air gap for ventilation, are integrated behind the panels, hidden from the view.

Designed for mixed-use, the building consists of a pharmacy, a clinic, offices, and a vocational school, as well as parking.


Bosco Verticale
View of Bosco Verticale from street level
image – © Paolo Rosselli
Close up of the facade of Bosco Verticale
image – © Paolo Rosselli

Architect: Boeri Studio

Location: Milan, Italy

Year: 2014

Sustainability Concept: Incorporation of plants

The pair of residential towers named Bosco Verticale are essentially high-rises, but were built as vertical forests as the name suggests.

In the project, a screen of vegetation acts as a barrier between the exterior and the livable spaces, providing many benefits in the meanwhile.

The great tower of plants “increases biodiversity by repopulating the city’s flora and fauna,” encouraging inhabitation by birds and insects. The green barrier also creates its own micro-climate, filtering the polluted air of the urban environment, absorbing CO2, producing oxygen and humidity, and creating a natural barrier for noise and harsh sunlight.

The trees planted in the project were carefully chosen and cultivated before the start of the construction, in order to survive in their extraordinary position on the tower.


Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market
Aerial view of Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market
image – © MVRDV
Entrance of Tainan Xinhua Fruit and Vegetable Market
image – © MVRDV

Architect: MVRDV

Location: Tainan, Taiwan

Year: 2016 (under construction)

Sustainability Concept: Incorporation of plants

The landscaped open-air market also includes a restaurant, administrative offices and an exhibition center, creating an impressive public attraction point.

The market has an accessible green roof divided into separate terraces, each one growing a separate crop for sale in the market. The roof terrace touches down to the street level at particular points to allow public access.

A high ceiling, allowing natural ventilation of the vast space, covers the market below the green roof. The integration of the farming area with the market is a significant sustainable solution in reducing the carbon footprint that comes with food transportation from farm to markets, as well as increasing biodiversity in urban areas.


Bioclimatic Dwelling in Tenerife
Bioclimatic Dwelling in Tenerife
image – © Ruiz Larrea y Asociados
Bioclimatic Dwelling in Tenerife
image – © Ruiz Larrea y Asociados

Architect: Ruiz Larrea y Asociados

Location: Tenerife, Spain

Year: 2003

Sustainability Concept: Bioclimatic design

Bioclimactic design has the most sustainable design solutions in architectural terms: ventilation, thermal and acoustic performances, water systems and natural light are optimized through passive systems in the design.

In this residential project by Ruiz Larrea y Asociados, the building as a whole participates in achieving the ideal balance of natural systems in the house. Local building materials are used to distribute heat and air through radiation heating, and reinforced with the correct insulation and waterproofing techniques. The roof is covered with topsoil, which is kept wet with a drip system, promotes evaporation and keeps a constant temperature of the material, even when exposed to direct sunlight. The building also collects rainwater to reuse in the house, and harnesses wind power for energy consumption.


The Archi+ Carbon Positive House
The Archi+ Carbon Positive House by Archiblox
image – © Tom Ross
The Archi+ Carbon Positive House by Archiblox
image – © Tom Ross

Architect: ArchiBlox

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Year: 2015

Sustainability Concept: Bioclimatic design

ArchiBlox has created the world’s first prefabricated carbon positive house.

The structure is integrated with many green features such as in-ground cooling tubes, sliding edible garden walls to control sunlight, a green roof for thermal insulation, and a buffer zone to avoid heat transfers between interior and exterior.

The Archi+ Carbon Positive House is designed to reduce the energy consumption both during the construction process and during its use. It is small, yet flexible, which means less energy consumption with more adaptability. In addition to this, the water recycling system and the use of solar energy is also integral to its sustainable lifespan.


Dutch Charity Lotteries Headquarters
Dutch Charity Lotteries Headquarters
image – © Jannes Linders
Dutch Charity Lotteries Headquarters
image – © Jannes Linders

Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architects

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Year: 2018

Sustainability Concept: Sustainable reuse

The Dutch architects have converted and renovated an abandoned building instead of constructing from scratch, cutting down cost and carbon emissions.

The structure containing offices, a public restaurant, a TV studio, a hall and an auditorium, is made out of reused materials that were demolished in the first stage of construction. 949 solar panels cover the roof, providing the energy for the building. The roof also collects rainwater to irrigate the roof gardens and to be used in the toilets.


The Great Wall of WA
The Great Wall of WA
image – © Edward Birch
The Great Wall of WA
image – © Edward Birch

Architect: Luigi Rosselli

Location: Western Australia, Australia

Year: 2015

Sustainability Concept: Use of local materials and construction systems

Rammed earth, a simple yet sustainable building technique that is centuries old in construction, is now experiencing a comeback in architecture.

The Great Wall of WA is possibly the longest rammed earth wall in the southern hemisphere, enclosing 12 residences for short-term habitation for cattle farming. The great thermal mass that rammed earth walls possess means that the structure has thermal and acoustic comfort throughout the year, which is an important factor in this subtropical climate: the building is kept cool in the summer and warm during the winter.

The structure, which blends in with its context seamlessly, requires no maintenance during its use. The rammed earth walls age beautifully. In addition, it is sourced locally, cutting down the transportation costs and the carbon footprint significantly.


The Cork Studio
The Cork Studio
image – © Lenny Codd
The Cork Studio
image – © Lenny Codd

Architect: Studio Bark

Location: London, England

Year: 2018

Sustainability Concept: Use of sustainable materials

Studio Bark has designed a house entirely enveloped in cork to prove that there are simpler, yet more unique sustainable solutions available.

The architects have covered the structure’s façade, floor slabs and its flat roof with the help of a timber structure, with discarded granules from a local wine cork manufacturer. A durable and structurally sound material in itself, cork can withstand water, fire and general degradation, while providing great acoustic and thermal insulation. The structure also makes use of recyclable poly-carbonate windows, and other internal thermal buffers such as shutters, to control thermal conditions.

The Cork Studio was designed to be completely recycled, reused or composted, easily assembled and disassembled. For this reason, the material was not varnished with any toxic chemicals to allow reuse.


 

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