Preparing for a sustainable future is at the forefront of many architects minds, and it's making for some exciting design innovations. Sustainable architecture is geared towards creating functional buildings today that will continue to have a minimal environmental impact and a low energy usage to help the generations of tomorrow. These environmentally conscious design techniques are paving the way for a whole new kind of sustainable architecture.
Ecological design is filtering into just about every field of architecture, from public to private residences, and from office spaces to educational institutes. Luxury private properties display some of the most opulent examples of how sustainable living can be achieved without compromising on lifestyle. We’ve all heard of grass roofs, living walls and vertical planting, but these are just the initial steps on the road to sustainable architecture. Smart buildings regulate their own temperature, control the natural light in the building for heating and cooling, and direct natural ventilation from outside. Some buildings use pool or pond-like features to enhance cooling, and others recycle rainwater.
The sustainable social sector
Across America alone, many innovative sustainable architecture projects have made an impact on the design world in 2016. From the Dixon Water Foundation in Texas, to university buildings in Wyoming, to Berkley’s new library – which is the first certified net-zero energy public library in California – ecologically designed public buildings are leading the way. These institutions are utilising recycled rainwater, integrating plants and green space into both indoor and outdoor spaces, and including in-built renewable energy alternatives. The Rene Cazenave Apartments in San Francisco not only have a vegetated roof, solar canopy and a smart irrigation system, but they also house formerly homeless occupants; an inspiration for similar social projects across the globe.
Sustainability in cities
Beyond the standard low-carbon technologies and the smart urban cooling systems, sustainable architecture in cities has also started to weave natural green spaces into its designs. With cities constantly growing, and the prediction that 70% of the global population will be urban by 2050, the need for greenery is greater than ever. Regular access to nature is proven to have quantifiable benefits for mental and physical health, and to improve quality of life.
In hot, crowded cities like Singapore, architecture firms such as WOHA are making an impact with net-zero emission buildings, which incorporate green plantings on every level, even throughout their 27-floor hotel. The National University of Singapore has started work on its Design School, which is also destined to be a net-zero emissions building with an emphasis on green elements.
Sustainability in the residential market
Away from office blocks and inner-city dwellings, architecture firm Guz Architects is blurring the boundaries between nature and design in their luxury homes. They often build water sources and trees into their design, and create multi-level access to greenery, with lush verandas and vertical planting. The focus on nature is only likely to increase; this year marked the 6th International Conference on Harmonisation between Architecture and Nature.
Engel & Völkers has vast experience in the international property industry, with real-estate offices in 32 countries around the world. Visit our website to stay up to date on the latest sustainable architecture trends.