Sustainable projects that STIRred 2019

STIR’s roundup of the top 10 design and architectural projects of 2019 that were energy-efficient, sustainable, and paved the way for a greener future.

by STIRworld Published on : Dec 25, 2019

Energy efficiency and green design got a whole new meaning this year through innovative solutions, new materials and the use of technology to address the grave environmental crisis at hand. STIR rounds up 10 design and architectural projects, in no particular order, that stood out in implementing sustainable practices in 2019.

1. 3D PRINTED MUD OBJECTS, Colorado, USA
by Emerging Objects Studio

San Francisco-based architects and educators Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello have created experiments on earthen architecture using latest printing technologies, on a local site in the San Luis Valley – the headwaters of Rio Grande Watershed in Colorado. The project called the Mud Frontiers used a low-cost, portable robot that transformed the soil of the site itself into four 3D-printed large-scale structures.

The architects conceptualised the project under four themes - Hearth, Beacon, Lookout, and Kiln, which have different techniques, forms of construction, shape and uses.

Read the full article here.

The structures are aimed to demonstrate ecological large scale constructions through latest printing techniques | Emerging Objects Studio | STIRworld
The structures are aimed to demonstrate ecological large scale constructions through latest printing techniques Image Credit: Courtesy of Emerging Objects

2. CIRCULAR GARDEN, Milan, Italy
by Carlo Ratti Associati

As a part of 2019’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, innovation and design firm Carlo Ratti Associati presented an exhibition titled the Circular Garden in a bid to draw attention to the benefits of mycelium, fibrous root of fungi acts as a sort of 'wood wide web' in nature - connecting the roots of plants to transfer nutrients. Set in the stunning botanical garden at the Brera Design District, the exhibition comprised a series of arches made almost entirely out of the material.

For the installation, the entire growth process took only about six weeks started with an organic substrate as a nutrient and then placed into a mould and inoculated with the mushroom spores. As the roots develop, the mycelium fills the available space and solidifies. Once this process is completed, the mushrooms are dehydrated at high temperatures, leaving behind a durable organic material.

Read the full article here.

A close-up of the installation The Circular Garden | Circular garden | Carlo Ratti Associati | STIRworld
A close-up of the installation The Circular Garden Image Credit: Marco Beck Peccoz

3. CORK HOUSE, Berkshire, UK
by Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne, Oliver Wilton

The Cork House is an experimental, carbon neutral private house made almost entirely out of cork. The project has already won the RIBA National Award 2019, RIBA South Sustainability Award 2019, RIBA South Award 2019, and is also long-listed for the RIBA House of the Year 2019. This structure employs a self-build construction system, designed and tested in partnership with The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL (University College, London), the University of Bath, Amorim UK and Ty-Mawr, including ARUP and BRE.

Designed and constructed almost completely using load-bearing cork (solid structural cork walls and cork corbelled roof), it minimally uses some timber, glass windows and steel structural beams. A completely plant-based material (sustainably harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree), cork has fire retardant and hydrophobic properties, apart from being an entirely natural and biodegradable material. The structure which works much like a kit-of-parts has its components prefabricated off-site and can be assembled by hand on-site, sans mortar or glue. Due to the biogenetic nature of construction, the project boasts of negative carbon emission at completion.

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The Cork House is shortlisted for RIBA Stirling Prize 2019 | Cork House | Bartlett School of Architecture | STIRworld
The Cork House is shortlisted for RIBA Stirling Prize 2019 Image Credit: Courtesy of Ricky Jones

4. FOUR STATIONS, Saudi Arabia
by Foster + Partners

The four stations along the Haramain High-Speed in Saudi Arabia, are inspired by the ancient architectural traditions of the region. The 450-kilometre high-speed rail link between the major cities of Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and KAEC.

Sustainability is an important theme that runs through the project. The station buildings are designed based on principles of felt temperature reduction – from outside the station to the platform, the ambient temperatures get progressively lower without the need for mechanical cooling throughout. Inside the station, the temperature is maintained at 28 degrees celsius and the platforms have large fans and misting devices that help keep the area cool. Mashrabiyas enveloping the glazed façades also help reduce the interior temperatures, while allowing glimpses out of the station.

Read the full article here.

The four stations along the Haramain High-Speed, designed by Foster + Partners, are inspired by the ancient architectural traditions of the region | Stations in Saudi Arabia | Foster + Partners| STIRworld
The four stations along the Haramain High-Speed, designed by Foster + Partners, are inspired by the ancient architectural traditions of the region Image Credit: Courtesy of Nigel Young | Foster + Partners

5. MEDALS FOR OLYMPIC GAMES 2020, Tokyo, Japan
by Junichi Kawanishi

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) unveiled the design of the premier medals that would be awarded to the athletes before the start of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The medals that amass and reflect patterns of light are unequivocally Japanese in their design and manufacturing, right from its conception to completion. Interestingly, the medals for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 have been made entirely from 100 percent recycled metal, crafted from electronic waste donated by the citizens of Japan.

Junichi Kawanishi, the director of Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society, was announced the winner of the competition held by the organising committee. More than six million devices were gathered from various locations throughout the country, and metal from these raw materials was then carefully dismantled, sorted, extracted and treated, to recover 32 kg of gold, 3,500 kg of silver and 2,200 kg of bronze. In a landmark recycling initiative, approximately 5,000 medals needed for the Games were fashioned entirely from the metal extracted from these donated electronic devices.

Read the full article here.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals | Olympic Medal | Tokyo 2020 | STIRworld
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals Image Credit: Courtesy of Tokyo 2020

6. POWERHOUSE BRATTORKAIA, Trondheim, Norway
by Snøhetta

International architecture and design firm Snøhetta recently completed Powerhouse Brattørkaia in Trondheim, Norway - the world’s northernmost energy-positive building. The project brings forth a new standard for the construction of the buildings of tomorrow by producing more energy than it consumes.

The 18,000 sqm Powerhouse that includes commercial spaces leverages a series of technologies to radically reduce energy use for its daily operations. The skewed cut-out in the centre controls the amount of artificial lighting that is used inside the building while creating a comfortable and naturally lit working environment. Energy consumption is reduced through insulating the building for maximum efficiency and installing solutions for air flow to reduce the need for heating. When considered together, the building consumes only about half the amount of energy for lighting than a typical commercial office building of a comparable size would.

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A view of the Powerhouse Brattørkaia from across the Trondheim Fjord harbour | Powerhouse | Snohetta | STIRworld
A view of the Powerhouse Brattørkaia from across the Trondheim Fjord harbour Image Credit: Courtesy of Ivar Kvaal

7. SOLAR POWERED BUS STATION, Tilburg, Netherlands
by Cepezed

Dutch architectural firm Cepezed designed solar-powered bus station as a part of the revamp and re-haul of the transportation network in Tilburg, a city in the Netherlands. The spacious awning all around fully covers the bus platforms and additionally part of the buses. Thus, travellers can always board and de-board sheltered and protected from rain. The structure consists of a steel framework covered with ETFE-foil. The lighting is fitted above this foil.

During the day, the awning filters the sunlight, while during the dark hours, it becomes one large and spacious lighting element that strongly adds to the travellers’ feeling of safety. 250 sqm of solar panels lie atop of the awning. The panels supply sufficient energy for all functionalities of the bus station, including the lighting of the awning, the digital information signs, the staff canteen and the public transport service point.

Read the full article here.

The awning of the Tilburg bus station consisting of a steel framework covered with ETFE-foil  | Tilburg bus station | cepezed | STIRworld
The awning of the Tilburg bus station consisting of a steel framework covered with ETFE-foil Image Credit: Courtesy of Lucas van der Wee | cepezed

8. THREE HOSTELS, Baoxi, China
by Studio Anna Heringer

The Three Hostels built in Baoxi, walks away from the technologically advanced construction happening in the country at a rapid pace, and sets an example that traditional, natural materials can be used in contemporary ways. Unlike many traditional houses that hide mud behind fake façades, this project celebrates the beauty of natural materials.

The applied techniques of bamboo weaving and rammed earth are labour intensive, and hence, use as well as challenge the skills of local craftsmen, leaving the biggest footprint of the profit for the community. The project astutely re-connects with the authenticity of cultural goods like the bending strength of bamboo, and with the rich tradition of craftsmanship of China like basket weaving. The energy system used in the heating and cooling of the spaces is based on direct and ‘archaic’ sources like fire and sun, wind, shade, plants and the concept of minimising the conditioned spaces.

Read the full article here.

Bamboo Hostels China by Studio Anna Herringer | 3 Hostels in China | Studio Anna Herringer | STIRworld
Bamboo Hostels China by Studio Anna Herringer Image Credit: Courtesy of Jenny Ji

9. URBAN RIGGER, Copenhagen, Denmark
by Bjarke Ingels Group

Located at Copenhagen's waterfront, a unit of the sustainable student housing hosts 12 apartments across two levels, created by stacking nine shipping containers in a circular form. A design prototype that can essentially be replicated anywhere with access to water, the Urban Rigger housing unit is a unique, energy-efficient and floating mobile property. These sustainable homes are made out of upcycled shipping containers employing a clean source of fuel to run electricity – energy from the sun. The unit has solar panels fixed atop its rooftop, which self produces clean solar energy from its photovoltaic systems, significantly lowering electricity costs and thereby contributing to the environment as well. It also employs ‘hydro source heating’, which uses the surrounding sea water as a natural source for it.

Read the full article here.

Affordable housing ‘Urban Rigger’ by BIG architects in Denmark | BIG Architects | STIRworld
Affordable housing ‘Urban Rigger’ by BIG architects in Denmark Image Credit: Courtesy of Noah | Urban Rigger

10. GREEN CHARCOAL, India
by Shreyas More and Meenal Sutaria

Green Charcoal, a biomaterial created from the practice-based research led by Shreyas More with research mentor Meenal Sutaria, aims to bring alternative materiality in the forefront in view of the grave environmental crisis at hand. Envisioned as a biodegradable construction material for a circular economy, Green Charcoal is a natural composite mixture of soil, aggregates and cement, of which, the organic luffa is a key component.

Read the full article here.

Green Charcoal - Process Prototype of Pervious Luffa Concrete Brick | Green Charcoal | Shreyas More Meenal Sutaria| STIRworld
Green Charcoal - Process Prototype of Pervious Luffa Concrete Brick Image Credit: Courtesy of ISDI

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