Ecological architecture is about including and/or conserving natural elements in an urban setting. In simpler terms “it is a type of urban green architecture that aims to create more green spaces to promote a complementary relationship between built and natural environs.”
Pillars of Ecological Architecture
There are three basic pillars of ecological architecture- Environmental, Social, and Economical. Environmental sustainability generally relates to the form, materials, and systems associated with the building and site. This involves using passive design strategies of proper orientation, shading as well as energy-efficient materials and hybrid systems that can reduce their impact on the environment.
Social sustainability refers to creating inclusive, secure, and healthy communities that encourage the local culture and traditions. On a singular level, designing for flexibility by consolidating universal design elements will allow it to change with you.
Economical sustainability means balancing the cost and true value of a building. Also, the use of recycled or local materials for the construction process can help lower building costs. Designing using deferential methods should ultimately lead to lower maintenance costs in the long run due to decreased reliance on artificial light and other mechanical systems for internal climate control.
Luis De Garrido on Ecological Architecture
Luis De Garrido has developed certain ecological indicators to carry out green architecture that fits perfectly into the natural ecosystem. So few approaches that can nurture ecological architecture are:
- Optimal use of natural and artificial resources.
- Reduction in level of energy consumption.
- Promoting the use of renewable resources.
- Cutting back on waste and emissions.
- Improve the quality of life of occupants.
- Limiting maintenance and building cost of buildings
Also, Read Top 5 Green Building Certifications of India
Some examples that operate on the Ecological Architecture philosophy are as follows:
1)Vancouver Convention Centre West (Vancouver, Canada)
Opened: 2009 | Use: Trade shows, conventions, events | Design: LMN Architects
The first convention centre in the world to recognize with a platinum LEED certification, the Vancouver Convention Centre West is a model for sustainable architecture. It is the plan as an extension of the original convention centre (now known as the East building). The waterfront development is set at the intersection of three unrelated realms- urban, shoreline, and marine habitat. Therefore, the main challenge is to create a structure that could not only blend with the surroundings but also harmonize the three into a single entity. There are various kinds of public and semi-public spaces including exhibition halls, meeting rooms, ballrooms, retail spaces, plazas, and open spaces.
The 22-acre development incorporates numerous sustainable design strategies such as a six-acre green roof that is useful in using the building’s stormwater run-off and integrating it into the marine landscape. A seawater heat pumping system is employing to regulate the interior temperature and maintain it at comfortable levels all year round. The foundation is the composition of an artificial reef to provide habitats for mussels, seaweed, crabs, and other species. New walkways/bikeways and plazas that run across the site enhance public access to the water and form other informal gathering areas. The structural glass-skin aids in maximizing daylight and uniting it with the city.
A 73% reduction in water consumption achieved by installing low-flow fixtures. And water for irrigation comes from on-site wastewater treatment plants that recycle nearly 100% of the greywater and blackwater. The Vancouver Convention Centre makes use of radiant flooring in the majority of spaces to generate better air circulation.
2)Museum of Tomorrow (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
Opened: 2015 | Use: Science museum | Design: Santiago Calatrava
The LEED-certified museum of tomorrow is only a component of a larger revamping of Port Maravilha. Also, the project ties the port district with the city to make it one of the glamorous neighbourhoods. The Museum comprises temporary and permanent exhibition spaces. As well as a plaza that envelops the structure and extends along the dock. A park walkway in the plaza allows visitors to go around the museum while offering sweeping views of the Sao Bento Monastery and Guanabara bay. Its cantilevered roof with mobile wings stretches across the full length of the pier to showcase the continuation of the museum from the dock to the bay.
The building highlights sustainable practices by use of natural energy and light sources. It is positioning in the north-south direction, off-centre from the pier’s east-west axis to augment an unbroken landscape containing gardens, and leisure areas along the southern side of the pier. It also uses dynamic fin-like photovoltaic panels. That moves with the sun to capture maximum energy and use it to power the building. A reflection pool bordering the edifice makes the museum look like it’s floating and filters water from the bay to supply it to the air conditioning system on the premises. Further, this water is then sent back to its origin through a waterfall. The building is primarily constructed using local materials and landscaping is done through native species as well.
3) CopenHill (Copenhagen, Denmark)
CopenHill is a one-of-a-kind waste-to-energy plant that houses an environmental education centre. Also, an urban recreation hub containing a ski slope, climbing wall, and hiking trail. It represents the notion of ‘hedonistic sustainability, where a sustainable city is not only preferred for the wellness of the environment, it is also for amusing the citizens. The project is also a part of Copenhagen’s goal of becoming one of the world’s first zero carbon-emitting cities by 2025.
The power plant does not continuously emit smoke, instead. It spouts them in the form of “smoke rings” that consist of water vapour and not actual smoke. Being a completely sustainable factory helped the designers turn this building into the prime focus of social life in the area. The climbable façade is made up of glazed aluminium bricks. They are stacked tactically to allow daylight into the power plant. The vertical façade boasts a climbing wall that offers views into the interiors. All the equipment for the plant is arranged in increasing order of height to form the perfect year-round ski slope. The green roof consists of a tree-lined hiking trail that forms a biodiverse landscape.
It can absorb heat, get rid of harmful air particulates and minimize stormwater run-off simultaneously. This green roof will lend a hand in creating a contemporary urban ecosystem for the city of Copenhagen. Further, there is an après- ski bar at the bottom of the slop. Where tourists and locals can chill after a long day on the slope. There also exists a roof-top bar and a cross-fit area for those not wanting to take the ski slope. Such new breeds of energy plants can redefine the relationship between the infrastructure of a factory and the city.
Also, Read 10 Plants for vertical Building Facades of India.
4) Marco Polo tower (Hamburg, Germany)
Opened: 2010 | Use: Residential | Design: Behnisch Architekten
The Marco Polo tower is situated in the industrial neighbourhood of Hamburg. Also, it is a part of several others in the government’s effort to transform it into a cultural and business hub. Therefore it is the first of its kind to successfully apply sustainable principles to the residential domain. Therefore every level of the 17-story building is turning a few degrees on its axis to provide scenic views of the harbour and the city. These external variations are also expressed in the interiors where no level or apartment is the same.
Such recessed facades offer protection from the direct sun without the use of sunshades. Other green features are a heat exchanger on the roof that turns warm air cold and natural ventilation via the terraces reduces the need for conventional sources of energy. It applies solar photovoltaic panelling to produce additional amounts of renewable energy to power air conditioning systems. It also makes use of air louvres in bedrooms to provide as much natural ventilation as possible without noise pollution.
5. Maple street School Pre-school (Brooklyn, United States)
Opened: 2001 | Use: School | Design: 4Mativ Design Studio, Barker Associates Architecture Office
Maple street school is a LEED-certified (gold certificate) preschool that occupies the second floor of a mixed-use building in Brooklyn. However, the use of maple wood for floors, walls, and furniture. Also, the ceiling alludes to the school’s name and confers warmth, and visual unity to the space as well. A pegboard at the entrance lobby keeps children occupied while their parents are occupied with admissions. The challenge was to create three interconnected classrooms with social spaces as a focal point. This was accomplished using large sliding partitions that separate the classrooms. And when opened they form one large space for school-wide events.
Touches of the colour frame the openings and the doors have oval-shaped cut-outs to provide partial views of the room next door. Also, the school emphasises scheduling “cafe times”. Therefore daily social gatherings on snacks led the designers to assemble the multipurpose area and cubby space around the central kitchen. The kitchen takes after a food truck, containing service windows and counters for adults and children separately. Bathrooms are inserting into the classrooms, rather than being hidden. However, views are controlling so that teachers can supervise while children still have a sense of privacy. The roof is lining with rubber tiles that suggest the idea of water islands. And is frame by using cedar wood fencing, and perforated aluminium screens as well.
Energy-efficient architecture has not yet received the attention it requires. This may be due to the fact that many prominent designers do not practice sustainability as a regular principle in all their compositions. Also, one way for green architecture to take centre stage is to embrace it from the conceptualisation of all construction. Architects, designers, and related professionals have to bear in mind the dire effects of conventional construction on nature and look at buildings as an energy-processing system than anything else. Architecture that satisfies the holistic and evolutionary outlook and purpose is ecologic architecture. It is the only way to protect both the built and natural environment, whether that’s a green wall or an entirely planned city. Here’s hoping that the future will hopefully hold growth in popularity and practice for green architecture.
Also, Read 10 Examples of biodegradable materials in architecture.