Green Buildings, Tropical Gardens

The exhibition ‘Green Buildings, Tropical Gardens’ in Berlins’s ifa Gallery focusses on South-East Asia, in particular Indonesia and Malaysia. In recent years, highly advanced and sophisticated projects have been built there, which are far from being architecture tied to investors’ interests. They show a new and innovative approach towards sustainable and landscape architecture. The presented architects, landscape architects and activists have each given their individual answer to the requirements of future-oriented buildings either in tropical rainforest or metropolitan areas.

The star architect Ken Yeang has a reputation as a pioneer in eco-architecture. He investigated in traditional Malaysian building typology in the early 1970s to develop his approach to sustainable architecture. Yeang set new standards for eco-architecture with his bioclimatic tower. The renowned landscape architect Ng Seksan is planning parks, gardens and public spaces that subtly merge with untouched, natural areas. The founders of the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, not only work with natural building materials, but with a holistic idea in mind – the concept of the harmony of ideas and practice with nature.

The exhibition will run from February 18, 2012 until March 10, 2013 in the ifa Gallery Berlin, Germany.

Further information: ifa.de

Building Industry: Euroconstruct anticipates no growth – German Architects Optimistic

The international credit crunch has taken an increasing toll of the building industry, for which reason the European Building Industry’s trade association Euroconstruct has downsized its forecast for the coming months. For 2012 the association has reduced the growth forecast by –0.3 to –2.1 percent. The German building industry has likewise reduced its growth forecast from +1.8 percent to +0.4 percent. Industry activity is not set to grow again until 2014, but then by 1.7 percent. Even so, it will take several years for growth to exceed the level of 2008.

The Euroconstruct figures indicate that the only two countries whose building industry output has increased by more than two percent are Denmark and Norway, while Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK are all below two percent. But there is good news for German architects, who are generally in a positive mood. The regular survey of independent architects undertaken by the Ifo-Institut for the first quarter of this year indicates that their business is clearly improving. The last time the mood was this good was in the mid-1990s – in the final phase of Germany’s reunification boom.

The responding architects indicated that their current level of business was now considerably better than in the previous quarters. In particular, the number of architects who described their current position as ‘good’ had increased from 26 percent in the last quarter of 2011 to 45 percent in the first quarter of 2012. The Ifo Institut says this is a uniquely high quotient. At the same time, only one fifth of respondents described their current business levels as ‘bad’ (previous quarter 23 percent).

Even so, respondents said the anticipated level of business had hardly changed from one quarter to the next. The number of architects with an optimistic view declined by three percent from 17 to 14 percent – but at the same time the number of sceptical architects declined by two percent to 13 percent.

New Opening: Twixt Boulders and Mexican Vineyards — the ‘Endémico’

Breathtaking location: the first Design Hotels establishment was opened in late June and is located at the heart of Mexico’s Baja California region, nestling on the slope of a secluded hillside in the leading national wine district. The design of the Endémico — taken from the Spanish ‘endemic’ — is highly appropriate for the beauty of the surrounding unspoiled landscape: the emptiness and seclusion of the desert, and luxuriant vineyard slopes.

The exciting outcome was 20 luxury residential cubes blending seamlessly into their natural surroundings; with private terraces having an unobstructed view of the Valle de Guadalupe. At night, guests may warm themselves in front of a traditional Kivas clay hearth, imbibe the local wine and gaze at the stars. In the swimming pool, guests soak up the seclusion while drinking in the view.

The tasteful interior design of the residential cubes was inspired by the rustic bareness of the immediate surroundings. Furniture is simple, yet elegant; in addition to the minimalist fittings and furnishings, but not at the expense of modern comforts and luxury.

Mexico’s Hotelgruppe Grupo Habita is operated by hotelier partners Carlos Couturier and Moisés Micha, both active supporters of the environment, society, business and culture in the regions in which they build hotels. For example, the environmentally friendly residential Endémico cubes are held clear of the ground on stilts, minimising their impact on the soil and landscape. The cubes are made of Corten steel and wood, so structures weather as time goes by, and were erected by a team of regional craftsmen, in cooperation with Gracia Studio.

Further information: designhotels.com/endemico

 

Towers of Trees – Vertical Forests in the Sky

The Vertical Forest project aims to build high-density tower blocks with trees within the city.

The first example of a Bosco Verticale/Vertical Forest is currently under construction in the Garibaldi Repubblica area in Milan, with two towers which are 80 metres and 112 metres tall respectively, and which will be able to hold 480 big and medium size trees, 250 small size trees, 11.000 groundcover plants and 5.000 shrubs (the equivalent of a hectare of forest). The Vertical Forest has at its heart an concept of architecture which demineralises urban areas and uses the changing shape and form of leaves for its facades, and thus which hands over to vegetation itself the task of absorbing the dust in the air, and of creating an adequate micro-climate in order to filter out the sunlight. This is a kind of biological architecture which refuses to adopt a strictly technological and mechanical approach to environmental sustainability.

Vertical Forest increases biodiversity. It helps to set up an urban ecosystem where different kinds of vegetation create a vertical environment which can also be colonised by birds and insects, and thus becomes both a magnet for and a symbol of the spontaneous recolonisation of the city by vegetation and by animal life. The creation of a number of vertical forests in the city will be able to create a network of environmental corridors which will give life to the main parks in the city, bringing the green space of avenues and gardens and connecting various spaces of spontaneous vegetation growth.

Trees are a key element in understanding architectural projects and garden systems. In this case the choice of the types of trees was made to fit with their positioning on the facades and in terms of their height, and took two years to conclude alongside a group of botanists. The plants used in this project will be grown specifically for this purpose and will be pre-cultivated. Over this period these plants slowly got used to the conditions they will be placed in on the building.

For further information: stefanoboeriarchitetti.net

Building for vertical garden cities

Some of their structures remind us of bold visions of the future, in which plants reclaim nature for themselves. WOHA realize the permeation of buildings and landscape, of interiors and exteriors in projects such as the Singapore School of the Arts and the seminal residential high-rise “The Met” in Bangkok, which received the International Highrise Award 2010.

WOHA is represented by Richard Hassell and Mun Summ Wong as directors of the architectural office based in Singapore. They made their name in Asia in the late 1990s with open, single-family dwellings suitable for the tropics. Today they mainly design high-rises and large structures: a mega residential park in India, office and hotel towers in Singapore that lend a new, vertical dimension to green landscapes. Air-conditioning is merely an additional feature for these open structures, because the building structure itself provides the cooling. Natural lighting is standard, solar modules harvest energy for use in the buildings; water for domestic purposes and rainwater are reused.

Topics such as creating value added through communal areas and permeability for climate and nature will be presented in WOHA’s first monographic exhibition using examples of open tropical family homes, green high-rises and projects still in the completion phase. The exhibition showcases 19 of WOHA’s most important projects in digital images and models, project texts, large-format photos and plans.

 

WOHA – Breathing Architecture
2 December 2011 – 29 April 2012 at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM), Frankfurt am Main

Further information:
dam-online.de
woha-architects.com