Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Green Architecture

"Modern interest in the protection of the environment can easily be traced back to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) that documented the detrimental effects of pesticides and is sometimes credited with being at the origin of the environmental protection movement", I read in the introduction. Right, but what exactly distinguishes this green architecture from architecture? Solar panels and double glazing? Peter Zumthor and Bernard Tschumi? Well, the focus of green architecture is on sustainability, it is essentially concerned with environmentally conscious design techniques, I learn from Wikipedia. Moreover: "In the broad context, sustainable architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space. The idea of sustainability, or ecological design is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations. The term can be used to describe an energy and ecologically conscious approach to the design of the built environment."
Refuge du Goûter
Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, France 2010-12
Photo: DécaLaage – Groupe H

Well, labels are labels. Whether one calls such architecture green or sustainable or whether one simply calls it architecure, this tome provides lots of pics of truly impressive buildings  – just have a look at the Refuge du Goûter above. And, needless to say, the setting is likewise spectacular.

Clifftop House, Maui, Hawaii, USA 2004-11

I especially love the pics of the angled wooden roof of the clifftop house and its apparently closed exterior for the feeling of the vastness of space that the so pictured roof radiates. In other words, it is the exquisite photographs in this tome that I'm mainly fond of.

Spending time with this book allows for discoveries to be made. One of my favourite designs is the Ananti Club Seoul. And the Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum in Kochi, Japan. And also Kroon Hall, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University ... not to forget the Gervasutti Refuge on the Mont Blanc that looks like a rocket from outer space ...

I wasn't always sure why certain buildings were included. For instance, I would have never thought that the Prime Tower in Zurich (sure, its colour is green) could be included in a tome on green architecture (doesn't location matter?) but then learned that it "uses a ground-water heat-exchange recovery from the building and refrigeration devices, coupled heating/cooling with heat and ice storage, and partially operable windows."

Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia, 2005-09

"This is no ordinary architecture book", the publisher writes, "it is an up-to-the-minute, irreverent survey of something we all care about: how to save the planet and build a greener future. Forget about categories and certainties, find out how sustainability can be fun!" I couldn't agree more.

Philip Jodidio
Taschen, Cologne 2012

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