With an ever-increasing need for sustainable building, (even after going green seems to have become a synonym for cool in the architectural world) there’s a lot more that goes into making an environmentally friendly structure than a few plants and solar panels. Have a look at select projects by some of the specialists in sustainability to understand exactly what a truly green structure entails.
Suraksha Acharya – Aero Hive: Located in the Kai Tak area of Kowloon, Hong Kong, this aerodynamic architectural design structure by Midori Architects proves that skyscrapers can be naturally ventilated. Like an artificial lung that carefully incorporates the natural wind patterns of the site, the building is designed to accommodate changing wind conditions. The three wind scoops on each tower efficiently capture the moving air into the rotating sky atria – which is then transferred throughout the floor using large plenums. The double-glazed windows’ skin opens inwards at the top with an angle of maximum 15°, thus allowing fresh air to move indoors. 30 % of the panels of the façade panels are static and the remaining 70% are kinetic. The percentage of opening is determined by the amount of ventilation required for the space based on data obtained from internal CO2 sensors.
Fahed Majeed – The Flying House: This 7400 square foot, single storey four-bedroom residence is designed around the surrounding landscape in Kolenchery, Kerala. The inverted roof structure is part of a ‘neo-contemporary’ approach that the architect has adopted. The process of creating this sustainable home was a very close-to-earth design exercise, with the use of vernacular materials such as stone and wood, whilst only employing local skilled craftsmen and artisans. The Flying House, deriving its name from the fact that it looks like a structure about to soar upward, boasts a number of unique sustainable features. It is open to natural airflow and light, with openable, foldable, pivoted or fixed glass walls and windows throughout. The unit is self sufficient in terms of power, with a well-integrated solar power panel setup on the roof. Apart from a swimming pool that runs through the middle of the house, providing evaporative cooling whilst also contributing to aesthetics, the most noteworthy feature is the well thought out design of the rainwater harvesting system, which captures 100% of the rainwater that falls on the extensive 12000 square foot roof surface. The water collects in the single central gutter, flows down in the form of waterfalls, gargoyles and other attractive outlets throughout the house, and finally percolates to the ground, thereby recharging the ground water table.
Tiffany Beamer – The Emerald Riverside: The Emerald Riverside Project by Olin Studio in Shanghai’s Pudong district is one that comprises of residential towers, as well as high-end retail outlets. The landscaping and horticultural elements provide an oasis of nature in the midst of this urban desert. The aesthetic is to provide residents with several thresholds, each with a unique representation of the overall theme – Forest, Garden, Sky. The rich series of landscapes provide shelter, both physically and visually, from the streets.
Hit the nostalgia button with these tree houses; evoking childhood memories – as attested by our favourite architects.Yellow Tree House, New ZealandThis 13 meter high tree house restaurant designed by Peter Eising and Lucy Gauntlett, stands as an organic part of the forest behind, transforming into a glowing lantern during the night. It is reminiscent of childhood dreams and playtime, inspired by elements of nature – like the cocoon. The concept revolves the ‘enchanted’ site which is raised above an open meadow and meandering stream on the edge of the woods.
The Dragonfly Treehotel, SwedenDrawing attention from around the world, the biggest room at the Treehotel functions as a private suite and a conference space at the same time. Proving a luxury hotel can be stylish, whimsical and green, Britta Jonsson and Kent Lindvall came up with the idea of the Treehotel. Suspended on the trees, it blends with the landscape into the woods. The interiors of the space is simple and yet unique in its own way, like the other tree houses in the hotel.The Inhabit, Woodstock, United StatesIsolated from the hustle bustle of the New York City, this elevated treehouse is nestled amongst the lofty Catskills mountain range. Crafted by architect Antony Gibbons, the space includes an open lounge, a wood burner, a kitchen and a roomy bedroom. Gibbon believes that the angled metal beams give the illusion that the building is floating out of the side of the hill and makes the most of the view too. A large deck underneath the structure leads to a beautiful lake and a hot tub – ideal to spend that perfect vacay. The Bird Hut, Windermere, British ColumbiaStilted along a forested hillside, this unique designed Bird Hut, with the capability to shelter twelve varieties of birds, two people, or any critters from around the forest that inquisitively linger inside. To mimic the process of nest-building, the whimsical façade and the design structure is devised considering all sizes of birds while the materials were scavenged from the surroundings. This distinctive tree-top perch gives a sense of a canopy within a tree and is surely inviting, for the little birdies of the neighborhood.
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“It is my destiny to be an architect and if I were to be reincarnated, I’d want to be the same again,” Takaharu divulges at the very beginning of our conversation. While studying in the Musashi Institute of Technology in Tokyo, he discovered that design came instinctively to him and with encouragement from his professors, he decided to migrate to the US to explore the field further.
The University of Pennsylvania alumnus later worked under British architect Richard Rogers where he incidentally picked up his signature colour, blue. He reveals that nothing in his life was ever planned and he went along the path as it unfolded, adding, “You can’t change your life, you just find a way to live with it.”
The project that gave impetus to their firm Tezuka Architects, which he runs with his wife Yui, was the Fuji Kindergarten in Tokyo. Rather than looking at magazines, books or studies, he finds that his inspiration stems from his kids. Observing them running around their table in circles is how the idea for the school came about.
When asked to design the facility, he decided to create a circular form that encourages students to move around instead of enclosing them in box-like spaces.
The original edifice in Minamisanriku, Japan was destroyed in the Tohoku earthquake in 2011. The studio rebuilt the entire facility using timber from trees that were killed by the salt water of the tsunami in the same year.
Muku Nursery School
One of their most recent projects, this establishment in Tokyo is a composition of numerous umbrellalike modules. It follows the same principle as the other structures, encouraging free movement around the individual units, instead of restricting the pupils to one singular mass.
What started as a simple sketch of a circle on a page has now become one of the most popular schools in the world. Located in the Tachikawa suburb of Tokyo, the open design features a ring-like roof that creates an endless surface for the students to run around and chase each other.
Ring Around A Tree
An addition to the Fuji Kindergarten, this construction comprises a wood and glass volume wrapping around a Zelkova tree that was used by children years before the school came into being. The firm introduced various pockets in the assembly that promote exploration and freedom of movement.