Climate change. Sustainability. Green buildings.  

Rethinking The Future Awards 2022

How many times have you heard these theories repeatedly? We’re sure it’s a lot.  

But, talking, reading, and understanding about the urgent necessity of designing climate responsive architecture is a requisite for the upcoming generation of architects. The topic cannot be ignored or brushed off.

The reason being, that our world is constantly changing and evolving but NOT in a positive direction.
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From the melting of our ice-caps to global warming and many more similar phenomena, the list is endless.   

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Designing environment-friendly buildings are simple in concept, while the execution and practicality is complex. Nonetheless, this discussion is indispensable and needs attention. Let’s talk about some of the important factors necessary for the architecture of today.   

Study the site!  

Architecture students know the importance of site analysis in a submission! Examining and scrutinizing the location and context of the site is of the primary importance, before dwelling into the process of designing. Factors like the local weather, structures, and greenery around, the sun path and wind analysis generate promising results for designing a building that would correspond well to the site conditions. The factors of the site should be the predominant basis of laying the plan and conceptualizing the design further.   

An informative example: In.X-Hale Residence, Maranchery, India 

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Located amidst the several coconut trees and lush paddy fields, the designers wanted to make sure to not obstruct the fresh winds and greenery from entering the house. Understanding the site climatic aspects two important factors were derived: to keep the natural elements around the house intact and to ensure that the perennial wind-flow is not obstructed. Thus, two nodes (primary and secondary) in the form of a courtyards were designed making them the “lungs” of the house.

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Reduce active sources of energy 

Active sources of energy= mechanically operated systems  

Passive sources of energy= natural resources available in nature!  

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Comparing both by just their basic descriptions, it can be assessed that incorporating passive measures into an architectural design would yield better results for the environment.    

The key elements of a passive design include building orientation, window design, thermal mass, shading, and ventilation. To inculcate the solar and wind energy effectively inside a home, and reduce the need for mechanical systems, appropriate design strategies like the length of a chajja, or the size of an opening in a particular façade can achieve comfortable temperatures and good indoor air quality. Following these simple yet effective measures can lead to an ecological and even economical comfort.   

An informative example: Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur, India 

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The architects of this impeccable design of an institute have used ancient Indian techniques to create a structure that would not require active methods of cooling. Using the method of jali walls and step-wells, the entire scheme was created. The building is raised above the ground and scooped-out earth creates a natural thermal sink which is cooled by water bodies through evaporative cooling. The recycled water from the sewage treatment plants is used for the water body which creates a cool micro-climate because of evaporative cooling. 

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The building envelope design 

To successfully adopt the above features, adaptive envelope design is an absolute must. For the interiors to be comfortable and of the right temperature, the exterior façade should be optimized to its maximum capability. In today’s times, building facades are being designed exceptionally, with unique fenestrations, smart materials, balconies, and even operative elements, amongst many others. The reason that the windows and facades play a major role in determining the quality of the interiors is that the envelope treatment can control or allow the wind, air, and even noise inside the house with the respect to the site orientation and functionality. Biomimicry and smart facades are the future, and rightly so, as they’re proving to be more effective in the overall performance of a structure.   

An informative example: Pali Palms, Mumbai, India 

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An aluminum mesh or jali in this climate-responsive apartment in Mumbai reduces the heat gain and brings privacy, modulation, and shading to the interior. As per the site requirement, the mesh is angular or cut in a linear pattern or is vertically facing a direction or is even double-height somewhere. The façade is designed as per the micro-climate and functionality of the building.

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Go vocal for local materials! 

There is absolutely no reason for architects to not use local materials (in the majority, at least). Transporting materials can lead to unnecessary carbon emission and reducing this distance can lead to a positive impact on the overall sustainability of the building. Even more than local materials, the use of materials that would lessen the impact on the environment can be deemed more useful. Legendary architects like Charles Correa and Laurie Baker vouched for local materials and used them abundantly in their structures which can be successfully considered sustainable. The use of local materials not only adds on to the performance of a building, but it also adds a cultural and traditional touch to the context.   

An informative example: Debris House, Pathanamthitta, India 

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The house has used recycled and eco-sensitive materials in abundance. Materials like coconut shell filler slabs helped to reduce the use of concrete and the walls are made up of the earth that was dug out from the site itself. Recycled wood has been used to create furniture and coconut shells are used as fillers in the roof. The latter half of the house incorporates Ferrocement shell roofs too!

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Don’t construct on the site, maybe?  

No, it does not sound absurd! The upcoming “trend” of prefabrication is a method that enables an architect to get modules custom made in factories and only assemble them on the site. Also known as modular or off-site construction, the modules for a residential tower or even a small project can be built in bulk in a factory. Though transportation is a genuine factor to be considered, this process saves time, lessens wastage, and even reduces the carbon emissions on site.   

Author

Aishwarya Khurana is an architect and creative writer, who likes to express herself through humor, words, and quirky ideas. A design enthusiast, butter chicken lover, and music junkie, she loves to read and write about art & architecture and believes that nobody can defeat her in a pop-culture quiz.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022