Only a few decades ago, green design was branded as futuristic. Concepts were imagined and discussed with avid enthusiasm, yet few saw completion, their creators seemingly destined forever to produce utilitarian structures, with the odd creative flair being allowed off the leash from time-to-time.
Then came the out-flowing of concern for the planet, the climate and our worrying ways that would be sure to see the end of civilisation as we know it, unless we changed the way we lived. Cue: sustainable design.
Today, it’s impossible to think about architecture without including some element of green design; so is the ever-evolving impression of acceptable architecture. For a design to be deemed worthy now, certain aspects of greening must be addressed, such as, energy sources, consumption, emissions, sustainability and recycling. This combination of criteria is not always easily met, but in striving to achieve the best in green design architects have produced myriad unique concepts that give new meaning to the word innovative. Here are five of the best we hope to see completed in 2010 and beyond.
1. Rotating Skyscaper, Dubai
Branded as the world’s first building in motion, Dubai’s Dynamic Rotating Tower is set for completion in 2010. It will stand 1,378 ft high and have 80 independently rotating floors, which will give the tower an ever-changing shape. The constantly moving floors, powered entirely by wind and solar energy, are set to rotate a maximum of 6 metres (20 ft) per minute, or one rotation in 90 minutes, with the whole building making a full rotation in anywhere from 3 to 24 hours.
The unique design was created by Israeli-born Italian architect David Fischer, founder of the Dynamic Architecture Group. He said of the design:
“The Dynamic Tower is environmentally friendly and the first building designed to be self-powered, with the ability to generate electricity for itself, as well as for other nearby buildings. It achieves this feat with wind turbines fitted between each rotating floor. An 80-story building will have up to 79 wind turbines, making it a true green power plant.”
The majority of the construction will take place off-site, with only the foundations and core being completed at the construction site, making Fischer’s Dynamic Tower the world’s first prefabricated skyscraper. Each factory-built module will come replete with preinstalled kitchen and bathroom fittings, which will drastically cut down on the amount of work required on-site, and therefore the number of workers needed to finish the project. Once the 40 prefab modules for each floor are completed they will be transported to the site and connected to the core serving each particular floor. Included in the core is a special connection for clean water, the design of which was based on patent technology used to refuel airplanes mid-flight.
Plans are already under-way for two more rotating towers, one in Moscow and one in New York. The only dilemma remains for those who have a tendency to suffer from vertigo or motion sickness – better stick to the goode olde chain hotel down the road.
2. Ecotopia, Dallas
Images: via Inhabitat
Reminiscent of a bombed out building that’s been long forgotten; this teetering, terraced building is set to be built in Dallas, Texas, and is far from forgotten about. The unusual design was conceived by LA-based architecture firm Standard for the Re:Vision Dallas competition, which challenged designers to create a residential complex within the confines of one city block that would be able to boast carbon neutrality, zero water wastage and a LEED-ND rating.
Standard’s answer to the dilemma was Co Op Canyon, a multi-terraced, community-centred apartment block, which was inspired by the cliff dwellings of the nature-loving Anasazi Indians. Able to house up to 1,000 people, the sustainable urban design includes lush green spaces and numerous vertical gardens that will provide more than enough food for all its residents. The Co Op grounds will become vast growing areas manned by the residents themselves, who can choose to keep the fruit and veg they harvest or swap it as part of the on-site cooperative community plan. All green areas will be maintained using waste and rain water and energy will be generated entirely on-site via solar panels.
It is proposed the housing units will be tucked into the canyon walls, and each one will have its own garden and yard. There will also be picnic areas, a fitness centre, child care facilities and live/work units available for those who just won’t want to go anywhere else.
3. Harvest Green Project, Vancouver
Images: Romses Architects
Conceived and designed by Romses Architects, the Harvest Green Project was a recent winner in ‘The 2030 Challenge’ – a competition held by the City of Vancouver to address climate change, reduce carbon emissions and guide greener and denser development within the urban arena.
Harvest’s concept looks at vertical farming and is based on the premise that because food is so closely interconnected with human existence, we should afford it more importance within our communities. In their urban design, Romses apportioned areas within the Harvest buildings for growing fruit, vegetable and herbs, and also included pens for chickens, sheep and goats. The plots throughout the building will be irrigated using rainwater collected in a large tank on the rooftop and renewable energy to power the building will be ‘harvested’ from wind, solar and geothermal sources.
The green element of the Harvest Project doesn’t stop there; as well as food and energy harvesting, Romses included a large farmers market and supermarket in the concept, along with ideas for transport and proposals for education and research facilities that would service the community and beyond. The completion of the Harvest Green Project will certainly pave the way for Vancouver’s ambitious plans to become the most sustainable city in the world.
4. Frasers Broadway, Sydney
Already dubbed ‘the most sustainable development in Australia’, Frasers Broadway is a commercial, residential and retail complex set to take over the old Kent Brewery in Sydney. Located only a few minutes from Central Station, the 250,000 square meter development will consist of a collection of buildings within a 14-acre block, designed by various architects, including the celebrated Ateliers Jean Nouvel and Foster & Partners. Australian firms will feature heavily in the design, too, with contributions from Johnson Pilton Walker, Tzannes Associates, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer and Turf Design, making it a truly international affair.
The overall aim of the project is to achieve carbon neutrality – a step towards reducing the city’s emissions by up 60% and part of the Sydney’s 2030 vision plan. To achieve this, Frasers Broadway will feature a gas-powered co-generation electricity plant, a wastewater recycling plant, solar power energy and green rooftops.
Along with instructions to include a number of eco-friendly and sustainable features in the design, another stipulation was that over 32 heritage buildings that already exist on the site will be retained or earmarked for reuse, which only emphasises the green element of the design and should be lauded.
5. City of the Future, San Francisco
If you needed another reason to visit to one of the top happening cities in the States, here it is: IwamotoScott’s vision of the future San Francisco – Hydro-Net.
Encompassing a ‘geothermal mushroom’, algae-harvesting towers and a ‘fog flower’, IwamotoScott Architects’ design won them first prize in the History Channel’s City of The Future contest; a competition to determine what the city could look like in 2108. Whether it will actually be built or not is another matter, but it certainly falls into the bracket of inspiring sustainable concepts of the future.
Designed to harness energy from the area’s unique microclimate and geology, above ground Hydro-Net’s fog catchers would generate distilled fresh water from the city’s foggy atmosphere, while below ground level carbon nanotube walls would collect and disperse hydrogen produced by algae, which would then be used to power hover-cars in underground tunnels.
The intricately linked Hydro-Net system would see terrestrial and subterranean worlds become one – a seemingly far cry from how we live today but judging by the technological advances of certain designs of the moment, we may not have to wait for almost a hundred years to see designs like Hydro-Net come to fruition.
This article was written for Archininja >>>