Since Chicago has taken great strides toward becoming a greener city, it seems a good place to find architects to design headquarters for the world’s greenest city.
I’m referring to Masdar, the $22 billion development in Abu Dhabi, which is the world’s first ever zero-carbon, zero-waste and zero car city. The Chicago architecture firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill has been chosen to design “the world’s first positive energy, mixed-use building”, which promises to be “the first building in history to generate power for its own assembly, through development of its solar roof pier before the underlying complex.” Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Close your eyes and think of Moscow, Russia. The image that comes to mind is a series of funky-colored domes, large open squares, and even a gigantic banner of Stalin – or Lenin (depending on when you grew up). Now picture a giant, volcano-shaped glass and steel structure that rises gradually out of a large park to dominate the city’s skyline.
The world’s largest green building is coming to Moscow. Dubbed Crystal Island, the structure (designed by London’s Foster + Partners) will boast over 2.5 million square meters of usable space, also making it the world’s largest single building. It will house theaters, offices, residences, performance centers and even an international school.
Here’s a green home design from Italy that looks like the typical set-up we’ve been seeing for new homes – an all-glass main floor with something more private on top. But while it’s reportedly won an international competition, I haven’t been able to figure out what exactly makes it green.
Maybe it’s the use of the sun. Current design trends take advantage of solar energy by strategically placing glass and incorporating the surrounding landscape to provide a cooling effect when necessary. But even the company inadvertently admits that the real e-factor in a house is the placement, paying attention to available sun and shade.
For almost two decades, I’ve been a victim of L.A.’s various pollutants. From the smog to the endless rows of uninspired strip malls that seem to pop up overnight, this otherwise terrific city has for too long been harmful to both the lungs and the eyes. What we need is more visual appeal combined with auto-sufficiency – something that not only looks incredible but contributes to a cleaner, healthier existence.
Leave it to the French to make my fantasy a reality. Vincent Callebaut’s Anti-Smog: An Innovation Centre in Sustainable Development accomplishes all this and more, using green building techniques and green technology to create a visually stunning center comprised of two structures that feature public spaces like meeting rooms, galleries, a cafeteria and a courtyard.
A new house often means relying on your friends. Friends can help you pack, they can loan you their pickup and/or help you move your belongings. Sometimes they can just be there to provide moral support while you get settled.
But if you’re looking at moving into one of Calearth’s Sand Bag Homes, your friends can be helpful in an altogether different way: they can actually help you build it.
Originally conceived as emergency shelters, sand bag homes use local earth-filled Superadobe coils (comprised of sandbags and barbed wire), which are stacked into your desired shape. It can be built quickly at a low cost and using the skills of ordinary humans. No construction workers required. As a relief shelter, architect Nader Khalili claims the structure is cheaper in materials than erecting a tent. (And it’s obviously more durable.)
The most interesting thing to me about the UK’s LightHouse (aka BRE House) is its shape. Sure, it’s made from sustainable materials and boasts unrivalled efficiency in terms of its energy use, CO2 emissions and carbon footprint. And yes, it’s also the first ever net zero carbon home in the UK to receive a level 6 (the highest) Code for Sustainable Homes.
Architect Chris Sorensen, the mind and soul behind Sorensen Architects, is painting the town green with his efforts to literally shape Malibu into a more modern, progressive place.
When it comes to building or renovating homes, “most people don’t have a clue about the more sustainable, greener building material alternatives out there,” says Sorensen. “That’s why it’s our responsibility as the architects to inform our clients about their options.”
Here’s an example of cool architecture that multi-tasks.
In an attempt to revamp the harbour area of Las Palmas in Spain’s Canary Islands, Nicholas Grimshaw of Grimshaw Architects designed a stunning water theater that expands on the Seawater Greenhouse concept and takes full advantage of the area’s steep beaches, prominent winds and abundant sunshine.
Utilizing these renewable energies, the structure uses vertically stacked evaporators and condensers to convert sea water into fresh water. The roof collects solar heat, which is fed into a distiller, which freshens the water – which is then used to irrigate crops and help moderate the hot, arid climate.
It’s true what they say about the grass being greener. Or in this case, the moss.
For those of us living in an urban space, the sight of plants can be rare. Perhaps that’s what prompted the 2007 Awards for Emerging Architecture, for which architect Taketo Shimohigoshi was one of three prize winners. Recognized for his innovative thinking and ability to find “green space” among the crowded skylines of an over-populated and ever-expanding city, Shimohigoshi came up with moss-covered building-to-building beams designed for structures in Tokyo.
It’s one thing for buildings to incorporate plants and flowers near their entryways or in the lobby, but few can boast skylines with vegetation in mid-air, where (as the designer says) “nature is not in its natural place.”
A contemporary new home for a young family relocating from a busy city environment to the Mornington Peninsula. Constructed primarily from locally sourced rammed earth and ship lapped cedar panelling, the house is sited across the ridge of the property.
The elemental form of the building is enhanced by the contrasting and intersecting selection of material, textures and colours, threaded together by the linear rammed earth wall. Key views to the valley are enjoyed from all living areas and bedrooms, whilst the master bedroom is privileged to a unique vista down to the peninsula and onwards to bass straight. Photos after the Jump Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Another day, another prefab. This one from the architecture firm Marmol Radziner. Yeah, the peeps who brought us the Office of Mobile Design in Santa Monica and the four bedroom, five bath prefab pseudo-mansion in Nevada (among other genius designs) are bringing their fully customizable vision to Venice, California.
Marmol Radziner, having played major hands in the design game for over 15 years, prides themselves on creating a complete environment rather than just a house. So, this recently announced Venice project is creating quite a buzz.
LivingHomes Modular Housing of California recently launched their line of semi-custom homes that are LEED certified. I’ve researched so called enviro-friendly homes as well as “intentional communities” over the last few years, and I’m definitely in favor of a switch to greener building methods.
I do have some thoughts regarding LivingHomes, though, which have nothing to do with their product, only their advertising. They compare themselves to traditionally built housing in their materials, time of building and costs. But this is apples to oranges in my opinion.
The modulars take up to six months for manufacturing before delivery to your property, with (good news) installation taking anywhere from eight hours to two days. These houses are the quantum-leap evolution of mobile home construction attainting the next level of sophistication with a definite “Frank Lloyd Wright goes green” design. LivingHomes claims their costs are twenty to forty percent less per square foot than an equivalent stick-built (currently between $180 & $270, not including design fees, transport or install or foundation costs), while being comparable in design, equipment and construction of a traditional home. I like this. Their final cost is around the million dollar mark (give or take a few thou), which in today’s market is above average. But, of course, financially solid purchasers have globally responsible desires, too, so why not take this plunge?