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Tag: environmentally sustainable architecture

Apartments built like . . . a tree?

The Artdog Image of Interest

The last time friends went apartment-hunting, they didn’t look for apartments built like a tree. But the Montpellier “L’Arbre Blanc” (“The White Tree,” also called the “White Space Tree“) project gives an example why “biomimicry” is a growing design trend.

Architect Sou Fujimoto designed this building for a site along the Lez River in Montpellier on the French Riviera. This apartment building “built like a tree” expresses Fujimoto’s design approach based on a “relationship between his architecture and nature.”

Fujimoto and his associates conceived the project in 2013-14. Construction started in 2015 and continued into 2018. The project’s leaders realized “that in this city, people live outside.” According to Manal Radche of OXO Architects, one of the firms involved, that guided their design, which incorporates 193 balconies.

The "White Tree" apartments under construction.

Montpellier is only 10 km from the Mediterranean coast. It has a mild, sunny climate. “Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun,” Radche explained to Fast Company in 2014.

The 40-million Euro building will be a mixed-use space, with apartments above but also “offices, a restaurant, a bar, and an art gallery.” Passive cooling strategies help mitigate how much locally-sourced renewable energy the building needs.

All through April, I featured a series of architectural projects inspired by, and built to incorporate, trees. This post was delayed till May by problems with my website, which I now hope have been resolved.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Designboom for the featured image, to 1OneMinuteNews on YouTube, for the video, and to 3 Occitanie for the photo of the apartment building under construction.

How does “productive” architecture go beyond sustainability?

The Artdog Image of Interest

TEDx speaker, architect Dong-Ping Wong, lays out a case for moving past “sustainable” and transitioning into “productive” architecture. Specifically, he describes architecture that produces three kinds of benefits:

Solar and wind energy (see below).

Solar and wind energy (see below).

Clean water filtration in a river, via his +POOL project.

Agricultural crop yields in the middle of a city (strong echoes of my Rana Station, here! Who knew?). He calls it an “urban quilt of productivity.”

At left is an overview map of the peninsula jutting out from Copenhagen that was chosen for the development. At right is a detail of an area with several arable fields and even a water treatment facility.

I’ll warn you: this is longer than my usual “Image if Interest” video. But I thought the direction he’s going, and the solutions he outlined, might be just as fascinating to you as they were to me.

Moving into the 21st Century by moving beyond “first thoughts” about sustainability is, to me, an essential next step. 

I liked Wong’s example of housing conceived as a solar array. It’s designed as a five-tower residence in LA, the largest city in a state that has already mandated that as of 2020 solar panels be incorporated into all houses). 

The illustration shows three images: a traditional rectangular-block building that captures higher wind velocity along one edge of the roof at left, then in the middle is Wong's triangular shaped building with wind turbines staged all along the hypotenuse of the right triangle (it actually would be a prism in 3-d). On the right is an artist's visualization of what the triangular-shaped buildings might look like.
Instead of capturing increased wind velocity at just one point,  Wong and his colleagues designed structures to create a whole surface capturing much more energy, to the point that they become more than self-sufficient.

He also describes a south-Dallas project designed to capture enough wind energy to “power a 600-unit housing block,” and actually produce more energy than it needs.

If we are actually to have a chance of slowing climate change and ameliorating its effects, we must react intelligently.

I think our responses must resonate all the way down into basic design principles, built on entirely new assumptions about the purpose of our built environment. It starts with thinking the way Wong and his colleagues are.

IMAGES: Many thanks to TEDxDumbo 2012, a TEDxCity2.0 event, for this video. I screen-captured the still images from Wong’s presentation.

8 incredible environmentally friendly buildings

The Artdog Image of Interest

In honor of Earth Day, this month I’m exploring YouTube videos that show some amazing environmentally efficient architecture

Today’s video explores eight different buildings on the cutting edge of sustainability. Several even generate more energy than they can use.

VIDEO: Many thanks to All Things Human’s YouTube Channel, for this video.

Trees on buildings: a growing trend

The Artdog Image of Interest

A major theme in environmentally sustainable architecture is the incorporation of plants into design. This requires some unusual logistics, but confers such research-established advantages as mitigating urban heat islands, carbon sequestration, and psychological benefits for people using the buildings.

In the small but burgeoning sub-genre of speculative fiction called Solarpunk, incorporation of plants into urban life and buildings (along with rivers and streams, solar and other sorts of sustainable power, and sustainably-sourced materials) is also a prominent element.

My own forthcoming novel, What’s Bred in the Bone (to be released May 22, 2019) probably doesn’t count as Solarpunk per se, because it’s not set in our Solar system. But its setting, a habitat space station designed to be self-sustaining, and powered by light from the local system’s day-star, is almost a character in its own right. I’ve drawn heavily on recent developments in architecture, intensive gardening, and related areas.

VIDEO: Many thanks to The B1M on YouTube for this excellent video survey of tree- and plant-enhanced architecture. My subscribers may notice I posted this a day earlier than normal for an Image of Interest; I have a special series running next week for Library Week that starts on Sunday, so I rearranged the posting dates just a bit. (Oh, and . . . sorry for the pun in the post’s title. I couldn’t resist.)

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