Neuro-Architecture: Why humanity should be the epicentre of design

by Gillian Holl

There is a reason why some buildings and interiors make us feel at ease and happy while others affect our mood negatively. It is because there is a part of the human brain that picks up on geometry and how spaces are organised. This, of course, happens unconsciously and that is why we instinctively feel comfortable or uncomfortable in a space. Humans also intuitively have an emotional connection to spaces based on memories, what their senses pick up from the environment etc.

Together, all of these “feelings” have created an architectural discipline that is reshaping the way architects are thinking about design. This discipline is called Neuro-Architecture.

Neuro-Architecture examines the brain’s responses to the built environment, and helps architects design buildings that will have a more positive effect on our mood and senses, and ultimately our wellbeing.

In Neuro-Architecture, technologies such as Virtual Reality and sensors, and science come together to measure a person’s heart rate, body temperature, brain waves, eye movement and “arousal”.

This way architects can build spaces that contribute to the health of their clients on a deeper, more complex level.

“Buildings of the future will be shaped by you”

In his talk entitled Buildings of the future will be shaped by you, American architect Marc Kushner says: “Architecture is not about math, and it’s not about zoning, it is about those visceral, emotional connections that we feel to the places that we occupy.”

Consider for a moment: How much time you spend in and around built environments? At home, the office, shops and schools… Studies have determined that the average human spends around 90% of their time surrounded by buildings.

“We want to live and work in houses, offices and urban areas that are efficiently designed to elevate our mental health towards a happier and more pleasant lifestyle,” says Dr Amirhosein Ghaffarianhoseini, a leading researcher at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

The built environment has the power to reduce stress and anxiety. And therefore the question architects should be asking isn’t whether or not we should build with humans’ mental state in mind, but rather why on earth we wouldn’t?

What do humans want…

There is no one answer to this as preferences are dependent on many things including age, gender, personality, cultural background etc. What is even more interesting is that our feelings towards exteriors and interiors can change over time.

However, in its most basic, primal form, when it comes to choosing a home, humans are looking for circumstances favourable to their survival.  A place of refuge with the ability to observe their surroundings, located nearby resources (food…water…nature…).

Other common findings…

So far, studies in Neuro-Architecture have made some other interesting discoveries, namely:

 

  1. Views of nature have the ability to help humans recharge, disconnect and heal on psychological and physiological levels.
  2. Humans are more attracted to symmetric, textured and interesting building facades.
  3. Curvature in buildings is also more favoured whereas pointy, sharp edges create stress.
  4. Square rooms trigger anxiety and feelings of being enclosed.
  5. The use of the colour green reduces heart rates and relieves stress.
  6. The colour red creates positive mental awareness and cognitive stimulation.
  7. Natural light (bright morning and soft warm afternoon light) triggers various positive feelings whereas artificial blue light has the opposite effect.

At Veld Architecture we get excited by innovations like Neuro-Architecture because we are inspired by two things: you and nature.

We are committed to designing “healthy homes” that delight occupants and instil happiness and wonder.

Join the Veld Lifestyle!

Email myself or Anien:

Talk to Veld Architects!

Email us:

Gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

Anien@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Chat soon,

Gill

What is Regenerative Architecture & why should it matter to you?

by Gillian Holl

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” – Mahatma Gandhi.

Climate change is the catalyst behind hundreds of thousands of deaths every year across the world. Extreme weather conditions, droughts and natural disasters are wreaking havoc on ecosystems and economies, and costing governments billions. We aren’t trying to be grim. The situation, unfortunately, is already far beyond it. Humanity should be working harder to reduce its carbon emissions and build sustainable relationships with nature. And it all starts with where we live and work.

 

Because the building, construction and related fields contribute to 23% of the world’s carbon emissions, it is imperative that a paradigm shift and transformation takes place in the way we design and build.

 

Professor of Experimental Architecture at the Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University, Rachel Armstrong, believes that the biggest concern is that buildings are largely based on Victorian technology.  This involves “a one-way transfer of energy from our environment into our homes and cities,” she says. “This is not sustainable. I believe that the only way it is possible for us to construct genuinely sustainable homes and cities is by connecting them to nature, not insulating them from it,” she adds.

 

However, simply designing sustainable homes and buildings aren’t enough any more. That is why Armstrong and other leaders in the industry have dedicated years of research to various forms of Living and Regenerative Architecture, which will be a far more effective approach over the long-term.

What is Regenerative Architecture?

In a COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) research report entitled Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative the authors explain the three concepts as follows:

 

  • Sustainability: Limiting impact. The balance point where we give back as much as we take.
  • Restorative: Restoring social and ecological systems to a healthy state.
  • Regenerative: Enabling social and ecological systems to maintain a healthy state and to evolve.

 

Regenerative Architecture is essentially the holy grail of buildings. A net-zero, living building that not only lives and breathes and adapts to the environment and uses fewer resources but also reverses damage, gives back to communities and sustains all needs onsite.

 

Regenerative Architecture strategies include:

  • Green roofs and skins
  • The capture and storage of rainwater
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Generating and storing energy
  • Sequestering carbon emissions
  • Obtaining thermal efficiency
  • Creating a suitable habitat for lost wildlife and plants
  • Growing food
  • Increasing biodiversity
  • Addressing pollution
  • A building with no negative health impact on inhabitants
  • The ability to adapt to weather conditions
  • Healing the environment

Why are we telling you this?

The bigger picture of Regenerative Architecture, and the role of biology and biomimicry in architecture are all part of a global movement towards researching and developing ways to grow buildings that seek to integrate and restore the natural environment. Most of these new strategies are only in prototype phase. Armstrong’s research, for example, aims to use microbes to build living buildings that “grow, metabolise and defend us like an immune system.

 

So why are we telling you this now? Because the change in how buildings are built starts with you. Although many Regenerative Architecture strategies are still in development, some can already be implemented. Buildings can produce fresh oxygen and solar energy, and it is possible for buildings to capture and store rainwater. Forget about the allure of fibre or on-site gyms for a moment. With everything we know about climate change, shouldn’t net-zero, living buildings with the ability to improve our air become the marketing hooks developers use to attract potential home buyers instead?

 

If you are interested in Regenerative Architecture, team up with the Architects that are excited to see these strategies come to life in the South Africa context.

Talk to Veld Architects!

Email us:

Gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

Anien@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Chat soon,

Gill

Revival of the Industrial Revolution in Architecture

by Gillian Holl

The Industrial Revolution influenced mankind and industry in nearly every possible aspect. In architecture it inspired (and is continually inspiring) new daring and avant-garde outcomes. While the industrial design style was originally thought of as unattractive, a revival of this revolution is reshaping the future of design. But it didn’t happen overnight. We look at the road that brought us here.

A brief history…

Over the years historic moments, trends and leaps in technology influenced and evolved the way architects designed. These gave birth to structural style eras like the Greek, Roman, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods, to highlight only a few. In the 1700s the revival of past eras became somewhat of a “thing”. Details borrowed from these eras were adapted using modern technologies, which in turn gave rise to styles such as Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau. The Industrial Revolution towards the end of the 1700s is perhaps one of the most important eras for the architectural industry as a whole. The use of steel, reinforced concrete and bricks revolutionized what could be done. Stronger, higher, longer and more durable buildings, railways and bridges became a possibility.

From ugly eyesores to iconic statement buildings

During the Industrial Revolution the manufacturing industry boomed. Factories popped up in cities fairly quickly with little thought given to their aesthetic appearance. The buildings were built for purpose alone. Large windows. Open ductwork. Rough and unfinished walls. Often considered as ugly eyesores. As technology developed factories needed to be even larger and moved outside cities instead. This left many abandoned warehouses and factories in prime locations. In the late 1960s people started looking at these open-plan buildings with their large windows, worn flooring and aged pipes with more appreciation for the “stories” they told. Artists started using these spaces as studios, residents made it their own and soon the repurposing of these old buildings in new creative ways caught the attention of glamour magazines. Industrial Chic was born.

Industrial residential architecture trends

 

  • Protagonist of walls: Walls normally play a leading role in interiors but in an industrial scene, walls should be the hero. Walls should be honest and bare, reflecting as much of the original form of the materials used as possible.
  • Bold statements: The great thing about industrial materials is that their imperfect, bold features complement and add contrast to many other styles of design. The combination of clean lines, polished surfaces and bold features is setting the pace for new residential builds. For example, in using various complementary floor textures, one can subtly divide an open-plan.
  • Exposed Services: Exposing elements such as pipes and other services is perhaps the most obvious industrial trend but it is also practical, cost-effective and aesthetically interesting.
  • Pop of colour: While the rustic colours of this revival is key, it is also about getting the contrast of materials right. Iron, wood, aluminium and recycled plastic all contribute toward the success of this trend. And by including a pop of colour where it matters most, well, the result speaks for itself!

 

The revival of the Industrial Revolution is not only influencing residential architecture, but also industrial buildings. Here Architects embark on a quest to design greener more sustainable warehouses and factories. The Marmelo Mill in Portugal designed by Ricardo Bak Gordon is an exciting example of this.

Looking ahead…

The first (steel), second (electricity) and third (IT) industrial revolutions each had a significant impact on Architecture and the way Architects work. The fourth industrial revolution is set to transform this field by leaps and bounds. Advances in technology and an improved interaction between the physical and digital worlds can help Architects streamline processes, encourage improved collaboration, and ultimately lead to improved decision-making. While Virtual Reality software in Architecture is just the beginning, it is exciting to think what the future may hold!

 

At Veld Architects, it is our motto to design bespoke, residential homes that resonate with our clients, nature and the Veld Lifestyle. Technology, sustainability and the innovative use of architectural design styles are continually driving us forward.

View our projects to see how the Industrial Revival is inspiring us.

Join the Veld Lifestyle!

Contact me: gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

 

xxx

Gill

Veld Architects’ Top Architecture Trends to Look Out for in 2020

by Gillian Holl

In architecture, blindly following trends would be counter-intuitive. There are so many variables that can (and should) affect the overall outcome of a design. At Veld Architects we realise that ideas become trends due to human appreciation and this is, of course, a voice we listen to sincerely. We, therefore, highlight our favourite architectural trends that resonate most with our core beliefs and what we are about.

Sustainable Architecture

The global wave towards building greener more eco-friendly buildings is something that is catching on in South Africa, thankfully. While we are still in infancy (compared to Europe) more architects are showing homeowners what can be done. Adaptive reuse of old buildings, proper insulation, rainwater collection, green roofs, building using recycled and/or local materials and conserving the natural environment of your build are all excellent examples of how sustainable architecture can influence the South African market, but they are only the beginning. We highlight some of our favourite trends globally.

Net Zero Homes

The European Commission will soon lay out its plans for a European Green Deal in order to get the EU to net-zero carbon emission-status by 2050. People renovating homes and buildings into Net Zero structures will be one of the flagships in the policy. A net-zero building is a building that creates the same amount of renewable energy on-site per annum as it uses during the same period. Imagine for a moment how successful a similar strategy (even on a small scale) could be in SA

Smart technology 

The road to net-zero homes is paved with smart technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR). Energy modelling, for example, can indicate the best possible sites for green buildings. Technology can also help architects utilise natural energy (i.e.passive solar heating) more effectively and design more smartly in general.

Micro-Homes and modular living

Made popular by George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, micro-homes and modular designs are popping up in urban areas across the world. This movement is as ideal for over-populated city centres as it is in the great outdoors. Smaller, sustainable builds could lower the building’s environmental impact if designed and built accordingly.

Adaptable Architecture

 

In line with the Bauhaus Principle where form follows function, we at Veld Architects are particularly fascinated by adaptable architecture. Modern society has drastically evolved from what was functional in the 70s and 80s. It is exciting to see this evolution affect the overall design of a home. Multi-functional, wall-less open-plan spaces are not only making it easier for rooms to flow into each other seamlessly but it also creates new, “border-less” potential for rooms. The use of dividers, glass curtains, and sliding/roll-up doors can also enhance the transition between inside and outside spaces.

Businesses are also benefiting from this trend because a smart open-plan office layout office encourages a collaborative working environment.

 Biophilic Architecture

For years we’ve been told “you are what you eat”. Based on biologist E.O. Wilson’s theory that humans have a genetic dependence on the natural world in order to be happy and healthy,  biophilia in a sense, suggest amending the statement to: “you are what your senses experience”.

 

Biophilic architecture looks at the health and wellness of home dwellers and uses architecture to bring humans closer to nature. Either physically, by building a home in the outdoors with an open balcony, terrace, patio and large windows overlooking the landscape, or alternatively, by bringing nature to a home with living walls, water features, ample natural lighting and ventilation.

 

Our bespoke Veld homes address current trends while allowing for the natural landscapes and South African context to inspire new ones.

Join the Veld Lifestyle!

Contact me: gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

 

xxx

Gill

An entertainer’s guide to designing the perfect home for social gatherings

by Gillian Holl

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” – Unknown

At Veld Architects, before we design anything, it is important that we first learn what our clients value in life. A home should represent residents’ passions and allow them to do more of the things they love. From practicing hobbies and enjoying nature to hosting memorable gatherings for family and friends.


The summer holidays and the upcoming festive season in SA are synonymous with celebrations around the braai, pool and dining table. Entertainers usually live for anything from a casual get-together to a formal soiree, and an impromptu party is thrown without batting an eye. 

 

Depending on your unique style of entertaining, the following architectural tips can help you design a home where the party is at any time of the year:


Designing the perfect home for social gatherings
  1. Extended spaces

Open plan architectural layouts have been popular for decades. They make homes feel well ventilated with more natural light and connect the indoors and outdoors seamlessly. An entertainer’s home doesn’t need to be extravagant in size, but the clever use of flow in an open-plan layout can help guests move freely from each social zone, creating the illusion of space. An open-plan also helps guests gather in extended spaces surrounding social zones in a natural way.

  1. Adaptable architecture

Adaptable architecture is an entertainer’s saving grace. From fold-up doors that connect a kitchen and dining room with the patio (thereby creating an instant event hall) to rooms that literally double as something else i.e. a study that transforms into a guest bedroom. Opting for a larger hidden scullery with enough space to prepare meals is a convenient way to keep the actual kitchen clean and a part of the party.

  1. Taking the party outside

South Africans love to be outside, afterall we have the best weather for it. Creating outdoor social zones is therefore ideal. A patio, veranda, boma and swimming pool are excellent ways to make the most of the outdoors and host inspired gatherings. The addition of a covered patio and braai with roll-up doors allow you to host a braai in wind and rain.

Perfect homes for social gatherings inside & out
  1. Lighting

Lighting has a tremendous effect on setting the right mood. Social zones can be enhanced with effective overhead lighting in addition to making the best possible use of natural light. 

  1. Kids entertainment spaces

The most successful parties are those where the kids are properly entertained as well. Designing a home where there are designated areas where the kids can run around and play separately or adjacent to where the grown-ups are mingling, will work in your favour. The addition of a pajama lounge or playroom are great examples of this indoors.

What do you value in life?

Let’s talk about incorporating your ideals into the perfect family home.

 

Email me: gillian@veldarchitects.co.za 

 

Love,

Gill

The connection between architecture and interior flow

by Gillian Holl

A building should be more than just a beautiful shelter but a hyper functional space brimming with purpose. It should make the most of the location, leverage the best of the climate as well as the natural environment, and most of all it should bring those living or working within its walls joy. This may seem like a tall order, but modern architectural practices combined with a clear sense of interior flow can do this and so much more.

What is interior flow?

Interior flow, also referred to as the circulation of a building, is the natural movement of people and air between rooms. The placement of hallways, corridors, doors and windows are critical to establishing a flow that allows a home to “breathe” successfully.

Architects are at the helm of getting this right. By designing holistically with the interior, exterior and natural environment in mind, architects are able to create spaces that are cleverly thought-out to make the most of space, storage, natural light, climate, and of course interior flow. Furthermore, design principles such as feng shui can complement the free-flowing movement creating spaces where humans can live in harmony with their surroundings. 

This concept was explored as early as 1924, by Architect Gerrit Rietveld in his construction of the Schroder House. The client requested a house that is free from conventional association and that has a connection between inside and outside. He investigated the use of adaptable panels as walls that resulted in an interior that is dynamic and flexible, without compartmental rooms.

Trend alert: Inside-outside living spaces

Studies have shown that exposure to natural light and nature can positively affect the mood and energy levels of humans.  This has given rise to an inside-outside trend that is influencing the architectural, interior design and home decor industries dramatically. Clever architecture complemented by the right interior flow are able to erase the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces completely. From bringing the outdoors in and vice versa to interlinking these spaces together seamlessly. 

A courtyard is such a brilliant way to exploit the most of what this trend has to offer. A home of any scale can be complemented by the use of a courtyard, or even multiple courtyards. House with a view from our portfolio, as illustrated in the images below; creates exterior rooms that link internal spaces to each other through a landscaped spine.

Architecture & interior flow

Why interior flow matters

  • Energy

Interior flow balances and calms the energy of a room.

 

  • Functionality

Interior flow complements the functionality of a space, creating joy.

 

  • Space

Interior flow optimises the use of indoor and outdoor space, complementing each other.

The connection between architecture and interior flow is undeniably important. At Veld Architects we pride ourselves in our ability to think practically as well as creatively. We spend hours and hours planning and re-planning the “details” that would help us create a space that would tick all the boxes. 

That’s also why when it comes to the interior design aspect of a project, we are as involved as you want us to be.

Interested to find out more about our process?

Let’s chat.

gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Love,

Gill

Building with Nature

by Gillian Holl

As spring comes round there is a newfound interest in nature, I have found. Nurseries are busier than usual with people looking for trees, plants and flowers to reconnect with nature after winter. People are yearning for more greenery in the home or at the office all year round, which just amplifies the fact that nature is part of our DNA. We need it to function optimally, just as it needs us to survive. 

Over the past few decades there has been a massive influx of people into urban areas because, naturally, this is where a lot of the jobs are. Technology, trends and other forms of entertainment also consume a lot more of our time, meaning less time to spend outside in nature.

In a perfect world, nature shouldn’t be something you should have to travel to in order to connect with. It should be right there on your doorstep at home. It should surround you on your way to the shops and also at the office. It might sound unrealistic, but others are getting it right.

 

Like this Contemporary Art Gallery in the city of Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel and built in 1984.

It is essential to reconnect people to nature through architecture, and here’s why:

 

Nature exposure is linked to improved health

Countless studies have been done and the facts speak for themselves: nature heals. Of course we all know this. We can feel an instant physical and emotional change during a hike in the woods or while dipping our bare feet in a cool stream. Nature makes us happier, more peaceful and allows us to think more clearly. Exposure to nature has been linked to a reduction in amongst many recovery time after surgery, ADHD symptoms in children, cardiovascular disease, stress, anger and fear.

Nature exposure links us to each other 

Studies done by the Human-Environment Research Lab and the University of Illinois showed that people with trees and green spaces around their buildings knew more people, had a stronger connection of unity with neighbours, and were more concerned to support and help each other. Further investigation measuring fMRI brain activity showed that the part of the brain associated with love and empathy lit up when people were shown scenes of nature. 

Nature exposure could encourage an ethical relationship with nature

Global warming is an incredibly important issue we all need to be aware of and take action against within our circles of influence. The hope is that through improved exposure to nature and reconnecting with it on a daily basis more ethical relationships with nature will be encouraged.

Am I suggesting we all move out of the city? Or move to a city closer to beaches or parks? What a lovely thought, but no. I’m suggesting that we rethink the way we design any new building and encourage innovative ways to bring nature to urban areas like for example through green roofs, and other sustainable initiatives. Because at the end of the day it will be a win-win.

Architects have a leading role to play in the built environment, but it all starts with you. Not all architects have sustainable, nature-inspired designs at the heart of their mission and vision. That’s why you should choose an architectural firm that will connect your building to nature, preserve the natural topography of the site and do so sustainably with tomorrow in mind.

At Veld Architects this is what we do best. 

Let’s chat.

Email me on gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Love,

Gill

How a green roof can help reduce your carbon footprint

by Gillian Holl

Globally a new movement referred to as “flight-shaming” has taken shape. People around the world are coming together to ask the public (and especially business travellers) to opt for other modes of transportation (like rail). Flying contributes to over 2% of the  earth’s carbon emissions.

Alternative eco-friendly ways of travelling in and around South Africa isn’t as developed as it is in Europe or Britain for example. That’s why SA Travel Industry started an initiative to offset carbon instead: by planting spekboom. A single hectare of spekboom can rid four tonnes of carbon from the environment per year. The Spekboom project aims to educate people on how planting enough spekboom can eventually make flights into and from SA carbon-neutral.

The building and construction industry and its related fields contribute towards 23% of the world’s carbon emissions. It makes me wonder why a movement such as “building-shaming” isn’t making headlines too? Perhaps because all of us are guilty of this…

The good news is sustainable building innovations in this field can bring down emissions drastically.

Something that is trending on this front, especially in cities overseas, is the use of green roofs. In fact, in some cities this is mandated policy. While green roofs aren’t “new”, it is most definitely brilliant. Something that city dwellers, businesses, those with limited yard space and even homes with large green scapes around them should all consider equally.

Apart from cleaning the air and producing oxygen, vegetation on roofs also:

  • Cool down the environment: Green roofs offer shade and encourages evapotranspiration, which lowers temperatures by up to 3% in urban areas, fighting the urban heat island effect.
  • Reduce energy requirements: Cooler, more insulated roofs means a more sustained indoor temperature during summer.
  • Improve biodiversity: Green roofs attract birds and insect species to our cities, offices and homes. Biodiversity has a fundamental role to play in the food we eat and the water we drink.
  • Filter rainwater: Green roofs can filter pollutants and heavy metals rainwater.
  • Protect roofs: A vegetation carpet on your roof can also extend the life of your roof by protecting it from the elements.

Greener buildings and homes also have a massive positive effect on our emotional and physical well-being.

You can make a difference where you live and where you work, simply by researching ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Why not plant a spekboom?

 

At Veld Architecture, it is one of our core beliefs to design buildings that are more sustainable. From something as simple as building orientation to more complex strategies such as eco pools, green roofs and making use of recycled materials – we aim to make buildings more eco-friendly.

Sustainable building is the future of architecture, and our firm would love nothing more than to make your project reflect this.

 

Let’s chat! 

Email me on gillian@veldarchitects.co.za 

 

Love,

Gill

Finding the right architect for your project

by Gillian Holl

The internet and social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram have opened landowners up to a world of architectural imagination. A building can be more than just practical. It can be smart, sustainable and stylish! (The 3 S’s that make us at Veld Architects tick by the way).

Does this make the design aspect of a building as simple as taking saved “Pins” to the most affordable architect to consolidate? No! Because the role of an architect is far more complex. Yes, architects are in charge of designing the look and feel (the skin) of a building, but it doesn’t stop there. Architects need to make sure the building integrates well with the available infrastructure and network of systems in order to function as optimally as possible. They have to gain all the relevant planning permissions, make frequent site visits, and adjust plans to accommodate changes or environmental/budgetary concerns. Architects are required to liaise with construction professionals on a frequent basis regarding the feasibility of their design and they also need to ensure that these plans are followed correctly. 

Yes, architects are in charge of designing the look and feel (the skin) of a building, but it doesn’t stop there. Architects need to make sure the building integrates well with the available infrastructure and network of systems in order to function as optimally as possible.

That’s why before choosing an architectural design studio, keep the following in mind:

Reputation

Your architects will play an integral role in the entire build, from conceptualisation through to the final stages. Throughout the process your architects will be responsible to liaise with other key role players such as the municipality, contractors etc. Make sure your architects have a great name in the industry and that they are professional and accountable. This will eliminate unnecessary bottle-necks down the line.

Style

Much like you would match a photographer or dress-designer to the style you are after for an important event, you should also do the same with your architects. The reason for this is to allow for creative freedom. If you want an architect to design a unique and inspired building that will provide a great return on your investment, you need to choose a team whose projects excite and inspire you. View various firms’ online project portfolios and find a team that show diversity in their designs.

If you want an architect to design a unique and inspired building that will provide a great return on your investment, you need to choose a team whose projects excite and inspire you.

Think beyond aesthetics

A building is more than just a gorgeous shell with dramatic pavement appeal. It can be hyper functional. It can complement the surrounding landscapes, make the most of natural light and be sustainable. Apart from finding architects that can design the style of home you are after, look for a firm that looks beyond design and stays at the cusp of architectural technology. Irrespective of whether you have a traditional taste, technology has the potential to make your build easier, more cost-effective and more eco-friendly. 

Personality

The building process is not something that happens overnight. It is a journey full of obstacles that your architects will guide you through with ease. So make sure you trust the architects you choose. You’ll be in contact often and you need to feel comfortable with them to take the lead and provide expertise on matters. It is wise to set up a meet and greet to see whether they will be able to convey your ideas on to paper.

The building process is not something that happens overnight. It is a journey full of obstacles that your architects will guide you through with ease. So make sure you trust the architects you choose.

At Veld Architects, Charné and I specialise in designing sustainable contemporary buildings using Virtual Reality and other forms of cutting-edge technology. Every project is personal to us and we invest incredible amounts of time and passion.

Let’s chat about your project, email us on:

gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

charne@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Love,

Gill

Top sustainable building trends and the role architects should play

by Gillian Holl

Conserving and protecting the earth’s natural resources is something absolutely every government, every industry and every consumer should take seriously. The building and construction industry (directly and indirectly) contributes to around 23% of the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions. Sustainable building should be a priority for the future of our homes, neighbourhoods and cities. Some parts of Europe, America and the UK are already leading the way with ground-breaking initiatives, and the potential for South Africa is huge!

Sustainable building trends such as smart technology, improved water preservation, garden roofs and green spaces are of course very topical, but I would like to highlight three areas that are particularly interesting to our architectural firm at the moment.

Rehabilitating old buildings through adaptive reuse and clever architectural solutions…

Trend #1: Degrowth

Water and soil are two of the world’s scarcest natural resources. Rehabilitating old buildings through adaptive reuse and clever architectural solutions have given way to a “Degrowth” trend that has a lot of potential. Our cities have so many derelict buildings that could benefit greatly from architectural revival projects. Just think about the impact it could have on the current accommodation and job shortages in our cities…

A great read on this topic, particularly within the South African context is  10+ years 100 Projects – Architecture in a Democratic South Africa”. The book contains the best final-year architectural student dissertations from all eight of SA’s universities over the last decade. It is truly inspirational to see how useful, positive and striking our cities’ current dilapidated and unused buildings could be if we focussed more on adaptive reuse.

The Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town is perhaps one of SA’s most successful and well-known rehabilitated buildings to date. The old grain silos at the V&A Waterfront, which were built in the 1920s, were sustainably rebuilt into Africa’s largest museum. And it is gorgeous!

Trend #2: Innovative materials

New innovative materials (or new applications for traditional materials), sourced locally, are also creating interesting ripple effects in the industry. Precast concrete is just as weather-resistant as concrete, yet far more sustainable. Bamboo is a great substitute for hardwood flooring and recycled aluminium or steel beams are also more sustainable than wooden beams. 

Trend #3: Zero Energy Buildings

Zero energy buildings generate the same amount of energy used by the building annually from on-site renewables. This is done by using solar and passive systems to heat and cool the building, as well as installing energy efficient appliances. I am particularly fascinated with the work being done at Bugesera International Airport in Rwanda. The project includes a 30,000 square metre passenger terminal, 22 check-in counters, 10 gates, and six passenger boarding bridges all of which will be a zero energy space. Just imagine if our homes, neighbourhoods and cities followed this principal…

…sustainability projects are not conducted in isolation but instead seen as part of the greater sustainable ethos of the site, and potentially the neighbourhood and city as well. 

The role of architects in sustainable projects

As architects, we have a leading role to play in professional sustainable planning. By  collaborating with clients, construction companies, engineers and various other role players, architects can ensure that sustainability projects are not conducted in isolation but instead seen as part of the greater sustainable ethos of the site, and potentially the neighbourhood and city as well.  Professional planning also ensures that the quality of development isn’t lost in the process.

Sustainable homes and buildings can (and should) be beautiful. They can complement the natural surroundings and add value to the landscapes they are built on. At Veld Architects, we are drawn to the advantages of sustainable building. It is a fundamental part of the vision we have for our architectural consultancy, and we would love to share it with you.