What is green building? Eco-friendly buildings and sustainability is not a subject only architects or engineers are familiar with anymore. Alienation from nature resulted as environmental crisis, physical and mental disorders that humanity faces. It brought a high level of consciousness in society. So this concept has emerged from the realization of the consequences of formalist design which is not in harmony with the environment. There are hundreds of publications on this subject but this text covers the simple explanation of the concept and philosophy by introducing its characteristics. Here is some principles that we can evaluate the quality of a green/eco-friendly building:
- Integration between landscape and architecture (Building should be in harmony with the landscape with its scale and the construction material. Material should abide by as it was taken from that area and the building should not dominate the territory with its scale.)
- Environmental analyses (Building should be in harmony the soil, the wind and the solar analyses)
- Preservation of the nature
- Energy efficiency
- Use of recycled materials
- Recycling of buildings (adaptive re-use, renovation of existing)
- Use of fully eco-friendly materials (Material should not contain harmful chemicals or toxic wastes that may release in production process.)
- Low maintenance
- Harvested wood (avoid any other to prevent deforestation)
- Use of technology and innovations (use of smart material)
Sea Ranch Chapel – California
Schlumberger Research Laboratories – Texas
Bonus: Here is a great video of Catherine Mohr about how to design a eco-friendly
Recently I visited MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome. The exhibition of “ENERGY // Oil and Post-Oil Architecture and Grid” was presenting few projects which I find thrilling in terms of innovation. I will introduce one of them called “The NOE Project SCI” which is not possible to find any online data.
With simple words subject of the project was “the loss of energy while it is being distributed can be prevented by optimizing the positions of the distributors”.
The presentation was happening on 3 different screens. One of them was touchscreen that was standing to control the parameters of the simulation that let you change the positions of the distributors and some other features. The other two screens was mapping how energy flows in those cases that you set.
Now it will write down what was written in the panels which explains the logic much better.
“The extreme polarization between the origin of the energy and its destination is the result of the strategy of an invisibility that organizes it. The loss of energy is a direct result of inadequate geometry of urban network. Whatever the type of energy under consideration, its movement involves a loss, proportional to the energy displaced. The electrical network and its urban wiring system is a perfect example of how city and its loss off residual energy could be paradoxically considered as a central of production and not consumption. In this new idea of productive network, the distance between generation and consumption. disappears to enhance the energy exchange as to optimize their ways and the quality of their movement.”
Reading: “Out Of Control: The New Biology of the Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World Kevin Kelly”
The book has published in 1994. It includes many gems for architects that can be easily translated as perfect systems. Here is some of parts of the book that i find salient, stunning and can contribute those who work in the field of Biomimitic Architecture.
Some sentences have been cutted, and some parts are the summaries of some sections of the book.
This book is about the marriage of the “born (all that is nature)” and the “made (all that is humanly constructed)”. By extracting the logical principle of both life and the machines and applying each to the task of building extremely complex systems, engineers are conjuring up the contraptions that are both made and alive.
The realm of the “born” and the realm of the “made” are becoming one. Machines are becoming biological and the biological is becoming engineered. For the world of our own making has become so complicated that we must turn to the world of the born to understand how to manage it. That is, the more mechanical we make our fabricated environment, the more biological it will eventually have to be if it is to work at all times. Our technological future is headed toward a neo-biological civilization.
First we took nature’s materials as food, fibers and shelter. Then we learned how to extract raw materials from its biosphere to create our own new synthetic materials. Now we have reached to a point that we need to take its logic. Clockwork logic (the logic of the machines) will only build simple contraptions. Truly complex systems such as a cell, a meadow, an economy or a brain (natural or artificial) require a rigorous non-technological logic. Today’s science and the knowledge clearly show us, there is no logic except “bio-logic” that can assemble a thinking/self-organizing device or even a workable system of any magnitude. At this point, a question emerges for further development. What should we call that common soul between the organic communities we know as organisms and ecologies, and their manufactured parts of robots, economies and computer circuits?
The meanings of “mechanical” and “life” are both stretching until all complicated things can be perceived as machines and all self-sustaining machines can be perceived as alive. Yet it’s a mystery how much life can be transferred. So far, some of the traits of the living that have successfully been transported to mechanical systems are: self-replication, limited self-repair, self-governance, mild evaluation and partial learning. When the union of the born and the made is complete, our fabrications will learn, adapt, heal themselves and evolve. In this sense, it is also similar to individual development of human in his life path.
Basically we seek for mechanical systems to react and to change once we translate the traits of the living and apply them. The change we look for, can be structured. This is what large complex systems do: they coordinate change. When extremely large systems are built up out of complicated systems, then each system begins to influence and ultimately change the organizations of the other systems. That is if the rules of the game are composed from the bottom up, then it is likely that interacting forces at the bottom level will alter the rules of the game as it progresses. Over the time of the rules for change get changed themselves.
In the light of this knowledge, we can reach to an understanding as; the evolution is about how an entity is changed over time, deeper evolution is about how the rules for changing entities change over time.
At that point it can be questioned that even though a building facilitates structures that produces energy such as solar panels, wind panels, if it is a result of heavy fabrication concludes so much energy consumption and waste materials that cannot be a part of life cycles, would it be an efficient building? Smart systems should be result of a strong and simple concept and it should contain a balance between input energy/material and output energy/material.
Animal Architecture is a branch biomimetic architecture that is focused on the animal-made shelters. Investigation of this area is focused on how shelters emerge, how they serve for the necessities of the animals and the geometry-material combination that emerges and provides stiffness or flexibility that is needed. Due to the investigations, many clues are being discovered to develop more efficient design with less material and energy. This can be observed much clearly especially by observing the animals which live as colonies. Emergence and lack of planning gives so much flexibility to their systems and anything can be integrated anytime that is needed. Morton Wheeler, a natural philosopher, claimed that an insect colony was not merely the analog of an organism; it is indeed an organism, in every scientific sense of the word. He wrote: “Like a cell of the person, it behaves a unitary whole, maintaining its identity in space, resisting dissolution … neither a thing nor a concept, but a continual flux or a process.” Only by observing few animal colonies, very simple but useful strategies can be extracted to design more efficient. Bunch of principles we extract from animal that we can evaluate the efficiency of our design.
1. Reuse: Animals tend to use the shelters of others. The shelter can be abandoned, temporarily empty.
2. Recycle: There are bunch of animal that use the product that they produce. Spiders eat their nets when it is not needed, or when a change is needed in the net.
3. Use “0 km” Material: Birds use spiders’ nets to sew the leaves for building their shelters.
4. Solve Through Geometry: Variable animal species has variable solutions for ventilation, drainage, temperature and structure stiffness is being managed by just creating some intelligent geometries.
5. Adapt: In order to get more profit from environment many animal species adapt themselves to the conditions. For an example, if there are insects that doesn’t able to fly really well in the environment, spiders build their nets with less dense strings and produce a net that covers a bigger area, this way it catches more insects.
6. Innovation: In very different conditions animals have found innovative ways to adapt to the changes or lack of materials. Bees has been observed as they used paper as the material for building the honey comb, some bird breeds has been observed as they developed some ways to deform the soft rocks to use them as their shelter.
7. Specialization: The animals that live as colonies that have sophisticated system of specialization on jobs. Clear image of this fact can be highly observed on the bees and on the ants.
8. Save Energy: Despite of human, animals in the nature untiringly behave as they are the part of cycle of life. The energy they consume transforms as a material that it will use or some other element of the cycle will use. As an example, if bugs need new armors, they become smaller by size once they produce the armor. So the energy that is being consumed is from his body, resulting a protection for itself, without getting any energy from the environment.
9. Build With Their Body: Some animal species are tend to use their own body and their own production to build for hunting, for shelter or fulfill the other needs.
10. Copy: Copying is another smart feature that is used by animals, once they see a way that functions properly for meeting their necessities; they learn it and they easily copy it.