Responsive architecture is not comprised only from incorporation of micro-organisms within the fabric of a building, it also implies research and development of nature inclusive ideas such as creation of climates that are less wasteful and more energy efficient.
One way of doing that is through fuelling our projects with ideas from nature. Creating a cyclical urban fabric would not only reduce waste, but would also provide a balanced and healthy environment for future generations. Whether it is a residential project or an industrial one, the urban fabric has only to gain from reduction of waste.
Cyclical architecture is rather interesting through its nature since it partially involves biomimicry, however it is taken a step forward and developed into a responsive architecture since it does not only mimic a process seen within nature, but it also responds to factors specific to the building and the area.
One example would be the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery designed by Thomas Heatherwick . Within the project, the architect found it very important to firstly, preserve the existing industrial brick industrial buildings, and secondly to shine light onto the “surrounding rich English countryside to be glimpsed again from the heart of the site” through incorporating it within the buildings .
Taking inspiration from the process of distillation and the use of herbs and fruits in flavouring the gin, Thomas Heatherwick proposed an experiential tour for the public area firstly through unveiling the distillation process to the public and secondly through showcasing the needed plants within a pair of on-site greenhouses.
Furthermore, probably the most important aspect of this project was achieving a high level of energy efficiency through the creation of a “virtuous circle” of energy transfer from the gin distillation process to the main botanical greenhouses .
This cyclical environment, as opposed to a linear one, does not only bring monetary rewards to the producer of gin, but it also provides a balanced and ethical use of energy, leading to a more nature responsive architectural fabric.
Furthermore, having as an ultimate goal the reduction of negative impact on the environment through the creation of a cyclical process, the project has been awarded a score of 86.81% on the BREEAM scale , which would translate into a descriptor of ‘Outstanding’ meaning that this would place the project as the first building of its kind to receive an ‘Outstanding’ certificate.
Within the project, some of the touched upon major features would be “renewable and low carbon energy” as a source of power, inclusion of a biomass boiler that would use “by-products from the gin distillation process” .
All these features contained within one project and working in parallel would create a sustainable and cyclical non-wasteful environment that would connect with the natural environment surrounding the building, therefore not further contributing to a linear and wasteful building style.
Having said this, one might argue that the BREEAM standards are making a great job in providing moral incentives to customers, through which they would be more willing to request a less wasteful building, knowing that there is a certain reputation that comes with building a sustainable and high-tech nature-connected building.
This may be shallow and perhaps disappointing, however, one might argue that the human needs more than the realisation that nature is fragile and that there is a need to tickle each person’s ego in order to convince them of a rather sizable initial monetary investment that would in the long run pay off due to the lack of reliance on polluting expensive resources.
Therefore, even though perhaps shallow, BREEAM does have an impact in pushing the idea of creating a more sustainable future, and together with ideas debated above, such as cyclical environments biomimicry and responsive architecture, our urban fabric and built environment could be connected into the natural environment and therefore create a sustainable and clean future.
This is a guest post written by Timea-Laura Tifan.
Timea is an architecture student with passion for the environment. You could say she is an ‘architect who gives a plant’. Throughout her studies, she incorporates nature within her design and strives for a sustainable built environment.
She is excited about nature inclusive architecture and in her free time she runs her own blog. With her roots being in beautiful Romania, she incorporates natural traditional design from home into sustainable solutions for dense urban fabrics.