Ecological architecture is the way to build the future beginning at the present. As it’s the case with many other disciplines, architecture is no stranger to the general concern regarding the environment and future of the planet. The issue, as a whole, has brought about a U-turn in terms of the vision of builders, promoters and architects.
This significant change has implied not only a new approach for the business, from the point of view of ecological architecture, but also numerous inventions in relation to construction materials and even the use of recycled elements and the impulse by the governments to create more ecological cities through green roofs.
Colombian architect René Corredor, winner of the third place at the first Inspire & Design contest, talks about this topic in accurate terms since he includes concepts such as sustainability and energy use, typical of this new trend in architecture worldwide, in the designs of his projects.
-Today, in Latin America and around the world, there is a great deal of talk about eco-environmental and sustainable issues. Not only because it’s a global premise, but also because there is a need to think about the future of our nations. The fact is that this is more than a trend, it’s a way of thinking that we, as architects and designers, have tuned into several years ago. So, the approach is to be more efficient with the energy and all the environmental resources, to improve the quality of life with constructions that are “healthy” and especially self-sufficient.
Corredor -whose work has been nominated for the 2016 Cemex Prize– explains that there is currently, in some constructions, a dependency on the mechanical means to obtain comfort and to meet the demands of the people for whom he designs. “This has made us forget about the rational use of the climatic resources of each place, so it’s important to have a correlation between the landscape, climate, location and materials of each place when we face the problems and challenges of each exercise of design and development.”
The winner of the third place of the first Inspire & Design contest, says that the current challenge of architecture is to understand the environment and the natural climatic conditions of each place to optimize the good use of energy and its connection with nature, in such a way that we can give something back in return for what it has given us.
Solar energy is here to stay
Solar energy is not a trend, states René Corredor. Its application within the new conception of architecture nowadays is based on the use of natural resources and sustainability. However, although it might be thought that this is a tendency of industrialized countries, Corredor is emphatic when he says that it is already a common trend across the planet.
-The use of solar energy is not related to the level of development of each country. I strongly believe that it is needed at all levels, because this is a global crisis. Clearly, the objective is to provide indoor and outdoor environmental quality in any climatic condition, without having to steal the resources from the planet. It’s as simple as thinking based on common sense and a good design, with the support of scientific means (computers) that provide us with adequate simulations before we develop the constructions, and the minimum energy consumption is achieved with purely architectonic provisions, resulting in the conservation of natural resources.
The Colombian architect adds that there is a significant increase on energy consumption and the orientation towards green and ecofriendly constructions. “For that precise reason, I base my daily work on the premise of efficiency at all levels, aimed at a convenient balance with awareness.”
Technology in architecture
Technology has also changed architecture and the way to face the idea of designing and building. René Corredor reflects about this issue and points out that many times technology makes some architects forget what their teachers taught them in terms of space, when it comes to the beauty and harmony of simplicity.
However, he adds that when it’s well understood, technology also provides tools to improve projects, to keep them current throughout time and generate “quality of life” to those who live and enjoy being friendly with the environment. “We always advice our clients to perform, before the development of each project, a study with the new technologies that promote the quality and the improvement of the place that is expected to be transformed, so that it’s a role model to follow for the appropriate technologies for energy saving and the conservation of the resources,” he says.
A topic that occupies plenty of space in architecture magazines is the reference to 3D Printing. Corredor talks about 3D printing as an interesting tool for those who work in the production of designs. “It’s a technological medium that helps us achieve results faster, being able to identify problems and its anticipated solution before the development of a project.”
The architect explains that when this type of impressions are used correctly, they can enrich spaces and help us capture ideas that were previously impossible to develop. In fact, he emphatically says that 3D Printing is also of great importance to develop objects with absolute precision.
“I don’t know how much can architecture change with this type of technology, but I know that in the future, developing an idea that required a certain amount of time will be done in less than half the time, and of course, the costs of development and/or construction will be reduced.”