by Bianca FelicoriSep 06, 2021
Merging with the United Nations’ annual celebration of World Habitat Day, the first Monday of October each year has been designated as World Architecture Day by Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA) since 1985. Illuminating three key areas of climate change, housing, and public space, the chosen theme for this year’s edition is ‘Clean environment for a healthy world’, in line with the global conversation on fulfilling the lofty goals set by the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda. In this vein, the theme behind World Architecture Day 2021 quotes the concerns raised by Goals 11 and 13 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda, namely: Sustainable cities and communities, as well as one of the most pressing crises of our times, climate change.
UN-Habitat evaluates that over 1.8 billion people worldwide lack adequate housing and this figure could see a 40 per cent surge by 2030. While the pandemic has a significant impact in moulding the future of public buildings and open spaces, cities on the frontline have collectively responded to the health crisis – remodelling the system, building sustainably and focusing on inclusion. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that cities are responsible for 75 per cent of global CO2 emissions, with transport and buildings being its largest contributors. In a statement issued to the public, UIA states, “Architects are equipped to respond to the complex challenges of the built environment.” To establish a firm connection with the UN initiatives and the practices of architects around the globe, the UIA SDG commissions works that enables architects to be responsible in the implementation and evolution of the new Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While encouraging its member sections and students from across the globe to participate and organise activities to commemorate the occasion, the UIA is also holding a dedicated webinar, aiming to contribute to the larger discussion around the 2030 Agenda and the capacity of the architectural community to contribute towards real change in this regard. On this occasion, STIR presents a handpicked selection of architecture and urban design projects that holistically embody the themes and key concerns highlighted as part of this year’s World Architecture Day celebrations.
Designed by Danish firm 3XN, in collaboration with SLA and Orbicon, the Lemvig Klimatorium honours local maritime traditions, culture, and building traditions within the port town of Lemvig, Denmark, while striving to foster conversations and raise the visibility of environmental issues. Featuring a wavy pine-clad ‘pocket’ as part of its striking façade design, the climate centre aims to serve as a hub for knowledge, education, innovation and development projects within utility services and climate change. Built using warm timber, glass, steel and concrete the structure pays heed to nearby boat halls, contrasting rusticity with a sleek, modern aesthetic.
A community wellness space and gymnasium on the grounds of the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, The Arc by IBUKU is a shaded, pavilion-like structure composed of swooping, sinuous arches in lightweight bamboo. Anticlastic grid shells are formed by the intersection of the bamboo arches, inspired by the anatomical function of rib cages cloistering lungs within the human body. Combining innovative engineering with parametricism and high-tension roof systems, The Arc is a testament to the seemingly endless potential for experimentation with sustainable materials such as bamboo.
Situated on a glacial, rugged patch of bedrock in Greenland, Dorte Mandrup’s Ilulissat Icefjord Centre recounts the story of our planet, its climate, and the history of the human species. Offering stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape from vantage points located along its structure of skeletal steel frames - which twist and wind into triangular forms, the climate research and visitor centre serves as a meeting place for locals, companies, politicians, climate researchers and tourists while simultaneously housing exhibitions, a film theatre, a café and a shop, alongside research and educational facilities.
Serving as a sculptural response to the dynamic urban landscape of Lebanon’s capital, Stone Garden Housing by Paris-based Lina Ghotmeh – Architecture is now an urban landmark within its context - as one of the few structures that survived the devastation of the Beirut explosion of August 4, 2020. Influenced by the city’s vernacular architecture, the structure is a manifestation of the architect’s perception of her birthplace. In this manner, the combed surfaces of the façade are punctured by voids, which house lush gardens to symbolise Ghotmeh’s fancy for vegetation slipping through the cracks to invade the city of Beirut.
Located in Puducherry, India, the Sharana Daycare Facility by Anupama Kundoo Architects is an intimate, welcoming space, developed to nurture and support the educational needs of local children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Decorated with porous terracotta screens that allow ample natural light and ventilation into its interior, the building is a reflection of Kundoo’s sustainable and energy-conscious approach towards design, reinterpreting local building practices in a modern context to address social concerns.
Othalo, a startup based in Norway, collaborated with Belgian architect Julien De Smedt to develop affordable housing in Sub-Saharan Africa for World Habitat Day in 2020. Examining the various models and points of view used to tackle issues of blending indigenous materials and modern technology in construction, the project bridges manufacturing, local crafts, and culture under the lens of affordable housing, to create living conditions that are in direct partnership with end users and local communities.
Students from Rural Studio - an extension of the architecture school at Auburn University in Alabama, USA, developed their first prototype for an affordable and flexible house model to address rural housing problems. A design-build program co-founded by the late Samuel Mockbee and DK Ruth in 1993, Rural Studio has completed over 200 student-led building projects, with this latest endeavour offering a quick and easy-to-assemble kit for a pole barn roof structure that can be extended by users as per their personal needs.
Exploring the modularity of 3D-printed design, this proposal for a school in Madagascar employs a hybrid design approach to create a series of pod-like enclosures made from concrete aggregates using recycled materials. Modularity, solar power generation, and water harvesting are all core features of the proposal developed as the result of a partnership between San Francisco-based Studio Mortazavi and the educational outreach organisation, Thinking Huts.
As part of their revival of Pirelli 39 in Milan, Stefano Boeri Architetti and Diller Scofidio + Renfro unveiled plans for a plant-lined timber tower, linked to the city’s iconic Pirelli Tower by means of a connecting ‘bridge building’. The project is emblematic of Boeri’s penchant for integrating biophilic design into high-rise residential projects, combined with elements such as on-site energy production via photovoltaic panels.
New York-based Diana Kellog Architects developed the Gyaan Center in Jaisalmer, India, as part of an initiative spearheaded by Rooshad Shroff and the non-profit organisation CITTA, with a goal to educate young girls and empower women in a region with an unbalanced gender demographic. The project consists of three structures - The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl's School, The Medha (performance and art exhibition space/ library/ museum), and The Women's Cooperative (embroidery, weaving and marketplace) of which the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl's School is currently open. Kellog’s design employs smooth oval forms in yellow sandstone with traditional design features such as courtyards and jaalis, that blend the structure into its surrounding landscape.
This three-storey housing model was built by Dutch firm i29 Architects as part of a masterplan for a floating village along Amsterdam’s canals. Designed to be extremely eco-friendly and energy efficient, with a minimal carbon footprint generated during construction, the home uses smart and economic architectural interventions to facilitate social connections and maximise liveable space within an unorthodox frame.