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