As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, sustainability often means something different from person to person, and a sustainable lifestyle that works for one may not work for another. The same is true for houses if the many different build methods and standards around the world alone are anything to go by.
In some countries, sustainability is more in line with what’s practical for their environments and communities. In others, it means focusing on the end result, creating a design that will have a long-term positive effect on the environment, while still others focus on lessening the environmental impact of the build process itself, using sustainable and recycled materials rather than traditional manufactured materials. No method can be said to be right or wrong, rather, the importance is that each contributes to a better future.
Casa Organica, Naucalpan
Any hobbit will love Casa Organica, located in Naucalpan, Mexico. Built partly underground, architect Javier Senosiain designed the house to emulate the “curvature of the universe” and the cave dwellings of animals and humans past. To achieve its unique shape, the house was constructed using ferrocement over a mesh base. The windows are positioned to allow the house to make use of passive solar, while the garden and plants covering the home help to purify the air within. Due to its shape and placement underground, the home also has the advantage of being seismically resistant.
See Design Milk’s article Here for an in-depth look at this incredible home.
Photo Courtesy: Leandro Bulzanno
Bosco Verticale, Milan
The Vertical Forest in Milan, Italy is an apartment complex covered in vegetation in place of traditional cladding materials. The design encourages interaction between the residents with the flora and fauna it attracts and the amount of greenery helps to improve the air quality around the complex as well as reduce heat and noise pollution.
Photo Courtesy: Stefano Boeri Architetti
Eastgate Center, Harare
This shopping center in Harare, Zimbabwe is a perfect example of biomimetic architecture. Rather than conventional AC or heating, Eastgate center’s temperature is regulated year-round due to its design emulating the structure of termite mounds. Not only does this greatly reduce the energy required for a building of this size, but it also reduces the costs for both the owners of the building and its tenants.
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia
Taipei Public Library – Beitou Branch
This building qualified for diamond level under the EEWH (Ecology, Energy Saving, Waste Reduction, Health – the Taiwanese equivalent of LEED) and is Taiwan’s first building to meet these standards. The building focused on minimizing pollution during the build process by using recycled and natural materials, and its design focus was on being energy and water-efficient. Electricity usage is decreased by taking advantage of natural lighting and cooling from its many openings, while the electricity it does need comes from the photovoltaic cells built into the roof. The rest of the roof is covered in soil to assist in insulation and the roof’s slope is designed to allow for the collection of rainwater runoff.
You can read a little more about the process that went into designing the library Here.
Château Angélus Winery, Saint-Magne-de-Castillon
For lovers of wine, you might be interested to know that in 2019, Chateaux D’Angelus acquired a new estate designed by architect Eric Castagnotto. The winery is built to be sustainable in structure and uses innovative processes to make eco-friendly wine. The winery shows off a bermed roof that blends in with the surrounding hills and the entire estate is HVE3 (Haute Valeur Environnementale) certified, while the building itself is BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) certified — a French certification encouraging farms to increase biodiversity, and the British equivalent of LEED, respectively.
Photo Courtesy: Design Diffusion