Sustainability can come in many different shapes, textures, materials, and styles when it comes to construction design. We’ve already seen a growing emphasis on renewable materials over the past half-decade, and many localities across the globe are implementing mandates that require builders to respect the local geography. Sustainability can sometimes simply mean sourcing local materials.
Obviously, there are multiple ways in which to approach sustainability; let’s look at a few examples.
For some architects, sustainability goes beyond using “green” materials. As designers, it is important to pay mind to local traditions and cultures. The end result can be buildings that blend in—or at least appear natural in their surroundings. One example of this philosophy can be found in the Tierra Patagonia hotel, located on the shores of Lake Sarmiento in Chile. The use of natural curves and organic wooden materials during construction makes it quite at home with the environment of Torres del Paine National Park.
Of course, wood isn’t always a practical choice. In more wet climates, like South Florida’s spring and summer months, materials like Cor-ten steel, or even glass can help allow enjoyment of the landscape while staying insulated from its more negative effects.
When it comes to sustainability, the right materials not only provide environmental benefits but provide designers with new textures and aesthetics to explore. Bamboo has gained in popularity over the past decade for its many useful qualities, such as being flexible yet durable, its ability to grow quickly and sequester carbon dioxide, and the fact that it is a sustainable resource throughout much of the world.
Bamboo can be a reliable option for both residential and commercial projects. Some designers are utilizing it to forgo traditional post-and-beam construction in favor of a curved shell grid. The upcoming event space for art collective Meow Wolf at Area 15 in Las Vegas is one example of this new kind of structure.
The limited choices of available materials under the sustainability umbrella has also freed designers and architects to consider new approaches to long-solved challenges such as heat retention. Compressed earth bricks for example, do not trap heat, and can potentially save future expenses that would otherwise be dedicated to cooling. This kind of construction is taking off in Saharan climates in Africa and India.
The pursuit of sustainability is not a sprint, but a marathon that requires constant innovation. Designers and construction firms across the world must work hand-in-hand to achieve these goals over the coming decades. If current trends continue, this will ultimately result in even more creativity than we’ve already seen. At CIC, we’re intent on doing our part. To learn more, contact us today.
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