Sustainable Architecture

Thinking Ahead: The Sensibility of Sustainable Architecture

Our world is changing. As temperatures fluctuate, storms swoop in with alarming ferocity, and sea levels creep ever higher, it’s becoming ever more important to think about how we can adapt to unpredictability. We know that we need to use green materials and power up using renewable energy sources… but let’s go a step further. What practices should we adopt as a global community to ensure a vibrant future for ourselves and our environment? Below, take a look at three innovations that could help us live sustainably in a shifting planet.

green roof

photo by Sookie

Build Up, Not Out. Last year, Grist explored the notion that denser cities could save family farms and other natural areas. By focusing on creating housing for increasing populations upwards rather than outwards, we can free up more space for wilderness, parks, and agricultural sectors. Many areas of the world are already grappling with a land crisis; sustainably designed multi-story buildings could alleviate some of that stress.

floating homes

photo by Joe Mabel

Staying Afloat. Rising sea levels are taking their toll on residential areas around the world. After witnessing the devastation from Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, engineer Bridgette Meinhold was inspired to pen “Urgent Architecture.” In it, she discusses housing solutions in light of global shifts. One such concept is the LIFT House, a structure built from brick and bamboo. Thanks to a hollow foundation and the use of buoyant materials, the home can float above the water’s surface when a flood occurs. When the waters recede, the house returns back to the ground, its inner contents safe and dry. Marinetek Group recently built a colony of floating homes in Finland. As elegant as they are practical, the village is a sustainable solution in the face of climate change.

Size Matters. Our population is constantly growing. Housing is needed to compensate for the increasing numbers, but if we keep building with the principles that have guided architecture for the past century, we will run out of land. According to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the average new home in the United States clocks in at around 2,200 square feet. For most families, this amount of space is simply unnecessary, draining resources to heat and light rooms that are barely used. The Small House Movement describes a trend of building smaller homes that maximize space efficiency. For some extreme examples, check out the Tiny House Blog. You’ll be shocked by how elegantly livable they are.

By adopting these innovations, we can create communities that are livable, comfortable, and above all, sustainable. The planet is changing, yes – but we can change with it.

If you want to further explore the subject from an architect’s point of view, I highly recommend checking out this wonderful series of articles about architecture and the environment from First in Architecture.

tiny house interior

photo by Tammy Strobel

tiny house exterior

photo by Tammy Strobel

Sustainable Architecture
was last modified: September 6th, 2019 by Brian Peterson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *