We seem to have reached a point when we’re becoming more concerned about the planet we live on and more aware of our surroundings and their ephemeral nature. Right now green architecture is trendy and many of us are showing an interest in everything related to this concept. Solar energy is more popular than ever and we’re taking steps to purify our living environments in all sorts of ways. But what exactly is green architecture and what does it specifically mean or imply?
To simplify this concept and to form a definition, we can consider green architecture an approach to building that’s meant to minimize the negative impact of the whole process as much as possible in relation to both the health of those involved and the environment. The entire concept of green architecture is based on the idea of humans living harmoniously with their surroundings.
What’s important to remember about green architecture is that it uses sustainable building methods and is always focused on the environment. An architect needs additional qualifications on top of the standard degree in order to demonstrate his or her abilities and knowledge regarding green architecture. Such an architect is generally guided by the environment and the topography of a site when designing and building a structure.
It’s important, as an architect, to pay attention to what is already present on a site before starting a new project. If a building is present there, its current condition is important and so is its history. However, green architecture usually refers to new constructions. So what features would a green building include? The possibilities are numerous. For example, a green structure would be built using locally-sourced and responsibly harvested materials or salvaged and reclaimed pieces from old structures.
Green architecture is sustainable and eco-friendly. It uses space efficiently, alternative power sources such as solar or wind, water-saving fixtures, energy-efficient lighting and appliances and natural ventilation. Another characteristic can be the efficient use of passive solar heating which can be maximized through landscaping and carefully-planned design. Because the site is on a hill and not connected to the city’s water and electrical services, the architects used photovoltaic and hudry power.
Abaton Barn Conversion
In some cases, green architecture can also mean the renovation or conversion of an old building. An example is this Spanish residence which used to be an abandoned stable until Abaton transformed into a modern home. The architects were set of renovating it but in the end decided that it would be more efficient to start from scratch and to only reuse some of the materials from the old structure when building the new one. Also, the building is oriented to the south in order to take maximum advantage of the light and heat during winter.
The Catterpillar House sits on a gentle slope and has a contemporary and sustainable design. The earth excavated from the site was reused when building the walls. The earth provides efficient insulation and helps regulate the temperature inside the house. Three large tanks capture rainwater which is then reused. These are just some of the main elements that define the sustainable design of this modern home.
Renovated 1960s bungalow in Belgium
Originally built in the 1960s, this bungalow in Belgium was recently transformed into a modern home that takes maximum advantage of the garden and the natural light. The new design also has an extension that adds more living space to the overall layout. In addition to that, the garage was repurposed into a playroom for the kids.
Timber cabin in Norway
While some houses try their best to blend in and to become one with the surroundings, this timber cabin is all black and its goal is to stand out and to contrast with the white surroundings. The cabin is located in Geilo, a ski resort in Norway. It has thick concrete walls for insulation and during winter it becomes almost completely covered in snow and can only be accessed with snowmobiles. Its orientation allows the winter sun to warm the interior spaces while also ensuring wonderful views of the surrounding panorama. This was a project by Lund Hegem Architects.
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