Ecoweek The Book #1

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ECOWEEK: The Book #1: 50 Voices for Sustainability Edited by Elias Messinas and Dan Price Foreword by David Orr

The purpose of this publication is to amplify the individual voices of architects, designers, landscape architects, environmental leaders, and educators from around the world. The contributors to this publication are all part of the extended ECOWEEK ‘family.’ They have lectured or led ECOWEEK workshops in cities around the world and are all committed and professionally active. Among them Kengo Kuma, Bjarke Ingels, Françoise-Hélène Jourda, Diebedo Francis Kere, Michael Sorkin, Gernot Minke, Prof. David Orr, and Robert Swan, OBE.

 ECOWEEK is a non-profit organization with the mission of raising environmental awareness. Through sustainable design workshops, it promotes the principle of sustainability around the world. ECOWEEK is a platform. The workshops bring these professionals and students together to share their knowledge, experience, and their personal dedication to make the message of sustainability tangible and inspiring.

 This book marks the 10th anniversary of ECOWEEK, and we hope that it will inspire others to search, find, and push the limits of sustainable design and practice.

Copyright © ECOWEEK 2016 All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-618-83112-0-6

ECOWEEK: The Book #1: 50 Voices for Sustainability

Fifty architects, landscape architects, designers, and environmental leaders join their voices and vision regarding sustainable design, urbanism, and architecture. Many environmentally aware architects and designers work alone. It is time their contributions were recorded and published, so that the message of social, economic, and environmental sustainability which their work embodies is better heard.

EDITORS: Elias Messinas and Dan Price DESIGNER: Artemis Petropoulou PRODUCTION MANAGER: Elias Messinas COPY EDITING: Alan Abbey ISBN: 978-618-83112-0-6

Copyright: © 2016 ECOWEEK This book is a project by NGO ECOWEEK. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanically, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission. This book is available on-line and in hard copy. For details visit:


“This is sustainability: the revolution in our minds and in our tools. It will take time, but there is no other way.... because we have to. If not, we shall not meet the requirements of the next generations.“ Françoise Hélène Jourda, Jourda Architectes

PREVIOUS: Activating Public Spaces: Valle Aurelia park in Rome. ECOWEEK workshop led by Orizzontale, OSA Architectura e Paesaggio with Living Urban Scape (Image ECOWEEK) THIS AND OPPOSITE PAGES: 1. Sketching in London. ECOWEEK 2014 in London, UK. 2. Collecting reclaimed materials. Tel Aviv port. ECOWEEK 2013 in the Middle East. 2

3. Closing event. Chiostri dell’ Universita Statale. ECOWEEK 2011 in Milano, Italy. 4. Workshop. Technopolis. ECOWEEK 2011 in Athens, Greece. 1

5. Site visit. SHOOTING RANGE in Wola Justowska. ECOWEEK 2012 in Krakow, Poland. 6. Workshop. Valle Aurelia Park. ECOWEEK 2012 in Rome, Italy. 7. Workshop presentations. MOCAK. ECOWEEK 2013 in Krakow, Poland. 8. Workshop presentations. Megatrend University. ECOWEEK 2012 in Belgrade, Serbia. (All images ECOWEEK)







Fifty architects, landscape architects, designers, and environmental leaders from 15 countries around the world, share their vision to inspire, provoke, and educate. They join their voices and vision on sustainability, sustainable design, urbanism, and architecture in essays, articles, interviews, project presentations, and manifestos, to amplify a message of social, economic, and environmental sustainability, embodied in their work. The contributing authors to this book are among the extended ECOWEEK ‘family.’ They have lectured or led ECOWEEK workshops in cities around the world. Among

ECOWEEK conferences and sustainable design workshops have become for the past 10 years, a unique experience and a turning point to the professional growth and career for hundreds of young professionals and students.




them, Kengo Kuma, Bjarke Ingels, FrançoiseHélène Jourda, Diebedo Francis Kéré, Michael Sorkin, Gernot Minke, Prof. David Orr, and Robert Swan, OBE, joined by professionals, leaders and educators, young professionals, and students. They share their inspiring work - schools, public buildings, housing, rehabilitation of existing buildings, gardens, community gardens, environmental education, and environmental leadership - and their own insights about sustainability and sustainable design. They have been an inspiration to ECOWEEK participants, and now they can inspire us too.



The ECOWEEK NGO was created in 2005 with the mission to raise environmental awareness and to promote the principles of sustainability. ECOWEEK international conferences and sustainable design workshops bring together professionals and students of Architecture, Design, Landscape Architecture, and Environmental Engineering from around the world. ECOWEEK workshops are assigned design or design-build interventions in the public realm, aiming to educate, train, and empower, while contributing to local communities. The ECOWEEK NET [www.] network has members in 54 countries. The Book #1 marks ECOWEEK’s first 10-year anniversary and its commitment to education, cooperation, and sustainable design.


Contents 7 FOREWORD by David W. Orr Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Oberlin College (USA). 10 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 4

13 INTRODUCTION by Elias Messinas Architect (ECOWEEK). and Dan Price Architect (Israel). A. SHORT ESSAYS 24 Julie Bargmann Landscape Architect DIRT Studio (USA). Manifesto Series 07: Finding the Formless. 30 Bjarke Ingels Architect BIG (Denmark & USA). Hedonistic Sustainability. 36 Françoise-Hélène Jourda Architect Jourda Architects (France). About Sustainability. 42 Michael Sorkin Architect Sorkin Studio (USA). Love Thy Neighbor(hood). 50 Marta Pozo Architect MVRDV (Holland & China). Contradictory Guest.

B. FROM URBAN TO ARCHITECTURE 58 Kengo Kuma Architect (Japan). Eco-City.

64 Annalisa Metta Architect (Italy). Public Space Design: Three Couples and a Trio. 72 Braha Kunda Architect HIT (Israel). Toward ‘Urban Acupuncture’ - A Work in Progress 78 Ivan Redi Architect ORTLOS (Austria & UK). A Holistic Approach toward Regenerative Architecture. 86 Richard Ingersoll Architecture Historian Syracuse University (Italy). Eat the City. 96 Thomas Doxiadis Architect and Landscape Architect Doxiadis+ (Greece). Symbiotic Design and Didactic Landscapes. 104 Galia Hanoch-Roe Landscape Architect (Israel). Sustainable Design of Educational Landscapes. 114 Maria Luisa Palumbo Architect InArch (Italy). Toward an Urban Ecosystem: The Productive Footprint Design Method. 120 Jan Johansson Architect (Denmark). Designing Sustainable Quality in Architecture for the Users. 128 Gil Peled Architect eco-challenges (Israel). Green Retrofit: A Challenge at Global and Local Levels.

134 Ulf Meyer Architect Ingenhoven Architects (Germany). In Search of the Truly Green Building. 140 Elena Barthel Architect Rural Studio (USA & Italy). Ingredients. 148 Isaac Meir Architect Ben Gurion University (Israel). Green Architecture: The Architecture of Survivability. 156 Vasileios Ntovros Architect (Greece). Looking for Eco-Logic. 164 Joseph Cory Architect GEOTECTURA (Israel). Green Scale. 72 Ørjan Nyheim Architect PiRII (Norway). 1 The Architect’s Framework for Sustainable Architecture in Norway. 80 Barak Pelman Architect (Israel). 1 Sustainability: An Intrinsic Part of Architectural Design? 186 Stelios Zerefos, Chris Tessas Architects Zerefos Tessas Architects (Greece). Reuse and Refurbishment as an Ecological Approach to Architectural Design. 194 Maciej Siuda Architect (Poland). Redefining Architecture.

C. PROJECTS & EXAMPLES 202 Ivan Harbour Architect Rogers Stirk Harbour (UK). Homeshell. 208 Daniel Pearl Architect L’Oeuf (Canada). ‘Benny Farm’: Theory into Practice. 220 Alessio Battistella Architect ARCo (Italy). Resilient Design - A possible Approach to Sustainable Design in Emergency Contexts: A School in Al Khan Al Ahmar, Palestine. 228 Jana Leoni Architect (Germany). The ‘Green Moabit’ Urban District Development Concept in Berlin. 236 Orizzontale (Italy). Challenging the Hidden Potential of the City. 44 Maria Livia Olivetti Architect (Italy). 2 Valle Aurelia in Progress: Planning for Real Experiment. 250 Hilde Sponheim Architect LPO (Norway). Vulkan Area | Reused | Restructured | Revitalized. 256 Tom Rankin Architect (Italy & USA). A Place for Reuse in Rome’s Via Portuense. 2 64 David Knafo Architect Knafo Klimor Architects (Israel). Building a Green School.



270 Alexandros Kouloukouris Architect KARD Architects (Greece). Business Building ‘Ben 10’.

324 Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen Architect Gehl Architects (Denmark & China). Invite in 1:1.

276 Michael Christensen Architect (Denmark). Two Projects: DTU Compute and Soil Center Copenhagen.

330 Benjamin Gill Environmentalist BioRegional (UK & Greece). From Eco to Happy Communities.

284 Gernot Minke Architect (Germany). Load-Bearing Vaults and Domes from Straw Bales. 290 Uri Gilad Architect office_ winhov (Holland & Switzerland). Second Life for a City Monument: Transformation of a Monument into W Hotel Amsterdam. 296 Costas Stef. Tsipiras Architect (Greece). Macedonian Sun: Bioclimatic Passive House in Thessaloniki. The First Holistic Philosophy Residence in Greece.

338 Michael Photiadis Architect (Greece). The New Acropolis Museum in Athens. 346 Francesco Bedeschi Architect University of Arkansas Rome Center (Italy). Educating (Young) Architects in Italy.

E. (YOUNG) VOICES FOR SUSTAINABILITY 352 Annalisa Metta Architect (Italy). Tips to Young Professionals. 356 Magdalena Malska Architect (Poland). Journey Through Architecture.

304 Abram de Boer Architect (Holland). Reconstructing Architecture: The Octrooigebouw.

364 Mehtap Leyla Turanalp Planner (Turkey & USA). Balance: It is in (our) Nature. Reflections of a Young Planner.


370 Dimitrios Farmakis Civil & BIM Engineer (Greece). Meaningful Synergies.

312 Robert Swan Leadership & Environmental Expert (UK & USA). Preserving Antarctica. 318 Diebedo Francis Kere Architect (Germany & Africa). School in Gando, Burkina Faso.

378 Jelena Lucic Founding Chairman ECOIST (Serbia & China). Interview. 386 Authors


The designers’ challenge 7

David W. Orr


specter haunts our common future. We have warmed the Earth by more than 0.8°C, with at least that much more on the way. A 2°C increase by 2050 is likely, with absolutely no assurance that we can stop it there. Even in the early stages of climate destabilization, we’re now witnessing weather extremes and changes that were not supposed to occur until mid-century or later. Because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for a long time, we have committed posterity to centuries of rising temperatures, rising sea levels flooding coastal cities, ecological chaos, and collateral effects including famine, violence, political and economic turmoil, and psychological trauma. Now we must act to contain the consequences of our past actions, not for a few years or decades, but over centuries and millennia. The challenge posed by rapid climate change is not an anomaly, but rather a manifestation of the logic inherent in the larger economic and political systems. It cannot be resolved within the paradigm and worldview in which

it was created. It is a global crisis, beyond the capacity of any nation-state to solve on its own. If humans are not merely to survive, but to thrive, we will have to change the structures that have generated the crisis, not merely change the coefficients of change. The challenge of climate destabilization has no solution, as we customarily use that word, but it is possible that we can design systems that permit humans to adapt to a different world. In 5,000 years of history, our ancestors did considerable damage to the forests, soils, and biological diversity of the Earth. But in time the effects were repairable and/or occurred at a small enough scale that they did not diminish the slow, but steady, demographic and material advance of humankind. Until quite recently an ‘empty’ Earth had plenty of room for migration to less populated regions. We now live in a very different and ‘full world’, in which the last lands on the five continents have been occupied and exploited. The continually quickening pace of change now threatens to upend virtually everything

humans have taken for granted, including our humanity itself. Everything is changed, except our manner of thinking, which remains tribal, insular, and wedded to the short-term.


Until the middle of the 20th century, however, the discussion about ‘man in nature’ mostly concerned growing human pressures on resources (soils, wildlife, and forests) and pollution of air and water. In the early 1970s, however, issues of resource conservation, population growth, science, and careless technology were subsumed into a larger analytical framework. The advance of ecology, the development of systems dynamics, and the use of satellites and computers as research tools, extended the capacity to research and model complex ecological, economic, and human interactions at a global scale over long periods of time. The behavior of complex systems is often counterintuitive to what we expect. They are ‘non-linear,’ with emergent properties, long lead and lag times between cause and effect, and they can change abruptly from one state to another. Little of this was evident in the mechanistic worldview of Newton or to the architects of modern science. From a systems perspective, the goal of sustaining civilization is the ultimate challenge to the design professions. It will require calibrating energy, water, and material consumption, as well as the ecological impacts of seven and soon, perhaps, ten billion humans with the complex realities of ecology, thermodynamics, the bio-geo-chemical cycles of Earth in perpetuity. The transition

goes beyond simply changing technology, although deployment of better technology will be necessary. It will require extraordinary changes in the economics, regulations, and planning that affect the design of buildings, communities, cities, and regions. We are not, however, very adept at bringing about large-scale changes that work as intended. Instead, we act and later discover unanticipated side effects, paradoxical results, and ironic outcomes. Revolutionaries, urban planners, and system changers of all sorts have a dismal record of anticipating the effects of what they do. Change mostly happens incrementally, a little at a time, for reasons that often appear only in hindsight. In periods of rapid change, however, our capacity for foresight is further diminished by the sheer speed of chaotic events at multiple levels. Complex social and economic systems with hundreds of variables are inherently unpredictable. We change things and initiate results that we cannot anticipate and may not understand even long afterward. But there is no controlled experiment by which we could compare against other alternatives we might have chosen. Nonetheless, if civilization is to persist and thrive in the long-term we will have to calibrate knowledge of how the world works as a physical system with professions of architecture, engineering, agriculture, forestry, and planning, while leaving wide margins as a precaution against error, malice, and acts of God. How might changes of the necessary magnitude occur? The great architectural

critic and historian Lewis Mumford concluded his magnus opus The Pentagon of Power with no grand plan, no proposals for technological miracles, only a plea for a ‘steady withdrawal of interest, a slowing down of tempo, a stoppage of senseless routines and mindless acts...replac(ing) power with plenitude, compulsive external rituals with internal, selfimposed discipline, depersonalization with individuation, automation with autonomy.’ Given the formidable power and wealth of defenders of the status quo and the underwhelming record of utopian schemes, ideologically driven revolutions, and largescale planned transformations, a steady withdrawal from dependence on large and unaccountable institutions and organizations and a commensurate rebuilding of the foundations of society from the grassroots upward may, indeed, be the only course available to us. Further, because they are too complex and contentious, some of the issues we face cannot be solved from the top down anyway. We have unwittingly stacked the deck against ourselves, but we also have capabilities and potentials to make a world far better than that in prospect. Accordingly, this book is based on the belief that we are not fated to destroy the Earth. But that faith is accompanied by an equally strong conviction that a better future will require changes scarcely imaginable at the moment. The authors in this book write in the belief that designers, architects, engineers, and landscape ecologists can rise to the

challenge. It is written in the belief that design strategies utilizing sunlight, maximizing efficiency of materials, energy, and water can contribute much to the making of a fair, decent, beautiful, and durable world. It is also written in the conviction that we will have to act fast, much faster than we ever have before, 9 to head off catastrophe from the perils that we have brought on ourselves. Led by many in the design professions, the shift to sustainability and resilience is already under way. It is growing out of initiatives led by neighborhoods, transition towns, forwardlooking cities, colleges and universities, agile companies, and organizations of all kinds. It comes from the recognition that we are citizens in the larger community of life that extends back beyond memory and forward as far as imagination permits us to see.

David W. Orr is a scholar, teacher, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College and Executive Director of the Oberlin Project.

Acknowledgments Acknowledgments are always humbling. One is reminded that no matter how much work one may have done, nothing worthwhile or sustainable can happen without the moral, physical, intellectual, and financial support of an entire team or community.


First, we want to thank the contributing writers. They contributed their professional insights and provided the graphic material of their work, sharing a personal commitment to professional excellence, sustainability, and education. We are grateful for their individual contributions and patience and their collective vote of confidence in the first ECOWEEK publication. The community spirit in the writing of the book was also evident in its financing. When it became evident that adequate funding would not be available, we turned to the ECOWEEK community. The community responded and enough books were presold to complete the funding of the publication. Thanks to the generosity and support of the Goethe Institute in Thessaloniki, Greece, the undertaking was completed successfully. The Goethe Institute in Thessaloniki has been a supporting partner of ECOWEEK since 2011. We thank Peter Panes, Director of the Goethe Institute in Thessaloniki, for his long-time friendship and cooperation to promote environmental awareness and sustainable design in this part of the world. The copy editing was completed in the professional hands of Alan Abbey in Jerusalem, Israel. The graphic layout was masterfully undertaken by Artemis Petropoulou in Athens, Greece. Though Artemis is working in a country suffering a financial and social crisis, her work has shown that young talent, professionalism, and hard work are rising to the challenge. We particularly want to thank the hundreds of ECOWEEK participants – young professionals and students of Architecture, Design, or Landscape Architecture – from around the world, whose enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation sustain and motivate us in our commitment to communicate the message of education, cooperation, and sustainability. This publication is the result of a broad, sustained and collective effort to make a difference and we sincerely appreciate the help of all who helped make it happen. We welcome constructive feedback and any omissions or errors that are brought to our attention can and will be corrected in future printings. Elias Messinas and Dan Price Tel Aviv 2015


“The choice of materials was determined by availability and cost. To ensure sustainability we needed to use local, cheap, and abundant materials.” Diebedo Francis Kere Architect


PREVIOUS: Urban Innovation and Green Design:Turning a parking lot into a park in Thessaloniki. ECOWEEK workshop team of Doxiadis+: Thomas Doxiadis (Architect and Landscape Architect), Despoina Girti (Architect) and Aggeliki Mathioudaki (Architect) (Courtesy of Doxiadis+)

1. General view of the design-build interventions at Prishtina University School of Architecture courtyard during the ECOWEEK 2015 workshop in Prishtina, Kosovo (Image ECOWEEK) 2. Students of the ECOWEEK 2015 workshop at work building outdoor seating at the Prishtina University School of Architecture courtyard in Prishtina, Kosovo (Image ECOWEEK) 3. Remodeling of a kindergarten courtyard at the ECOWEEK 2012 workshop in Thessaloniki, Greece (Image ECOWEEK) 4. Testing a bus stop built entirely of newspapers at the ECOWEEK 2014 workshop in London, UK (Image ECOWEEK) 5. An outdoor exhibition space built of reclaimed wood at Boscoincita park, at the ECOWEEK 2011 workshop in Milano, Italy (Image ECOWEEK) 6. A bicycle sharing station prototype, built in Piazza Sta. Anastasia, at the ECOWEEK 2012 workshop in Rome, Italy (Image ECOWEEK)


ECOWEEK: 10 years of seeking sustainability


Elias Messinas


hen I was a student at Yale back in the 1990s, the dean, architect Tom Beebe, used to say that ‘we bring many of the best professionals for our students to learn from and copy. However, after copying one, then the other, students get confused. This is when they start developing their own architecture and discovering their own voice.’ It is not accidental that this book – the first by ECOWEEK – is about fifty voices. Fifty articles by ECOWEEK speakers and workshop leaders who present their approach to sustainability. Whether a student, a practicing professional, a thinker, a researcher, an educator, an entrepreneur, an environmental leader, or an activist, we have much to share and learn from each other. The professionals and students in this book are not only inspiring because of their work. They are role models of professional dedication, making a positive, meaningful, and creative impact on society and the environment. A friend of mine, Dr. Scott Lawrence, a

successful New York chiropractor living in Jerusalem, asked me once, ‘what happens at that point in time when the music stops?’ Where does that moment find us? How have we spent our lives, our talent, skills, and abilities and what impact have we made to better this world? ECOWEEK was created the same year my second daughter was born, out of a sense of responsibility to do something for my children. In the fall of 2015, 10 years later, at ECOWEEK in Prishtina, Kosovo, it became clear how ECOWEEK has begun to catalyze change. Prishtina is a small capital city in a newly established country in the Balkans struggling for recognition from the international community. My first impression of Prishtina reminded me of Athens in the ‘60s and ‘70s, where I grew up: the public domain is neglected, the motor car is overwhelmingly dominant, people park on sidewalks. The city infrastructure is not maintained, there are limited pedestrian options, no bicycle paths, and no transparency in public decision-

making. The silent acceptance of this situation by people who assume that this is the way their lives are destined to be, is terrifying. I now know it can be different.


Bookstore shelves are full of self-help guides, of ‘How to…’ literature, including the ’10 easy ways to design green. ’ It may be fine to follow guidelines, until a process becomes second nature. But to make a difference, we need a process. First, to ask the right questions, then make informed choices and finally act. ‘What do the people need and how can we make a difference?’ In Prishtina, the students could ask the question and give insightful answers. But for years their campus lacked an outdoor meeting place. During ECOWEEK, they realized that not only could they ask the question and brainstorm for answers, but they could also act and create these missing

places. And they did just that! Therefore, it was not surprising to see the space filled with students, as soon as it was created. The students also learned that sustainable design is about systemic change which requires shifting the ‘point of departure’ or asking a different question. For example, as architect Jean Robert Mazaud pointed out in his ECOWEEK lecture in Prishtina, sustainability may not be about changing the transportation involved in the production of food, but about growing food close to where people live. Or it may not only be about planning bicycle and pedestrian routes, but giving people options to walk, bike, or use public transportation, as Gehl Architects associate Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen explained in his ECOWEEK Copenhagen lecture. People are always the key to every change.


I have often heard the phrase: ‘It cannot be done.’ There are solutions that require a combination of actions and the involvement of many people – especially if you only have one week to achieve them. This is why architecture students in Prishtina were skeptical at first. They have grown accustomed to neglected, abused and disused public spaces in their university campus and in their city. At the ECOWEEK workshop in Prishtina, our team of architects, Teuta JashariKajtazi, Elizabeta Poljoska and I, guided the students to ‘occupy’ and reclaim the public space for their use and for the students of a nearby public elementary school. Students envisioned new installations, designed and built them using reclaimed materials, and for the first time, began to do what is rarely done at their school – or in Prishtina in general: dream and act to change their reality. It was a small change, but the process has begun. Students will be reminded of the possibilities of change every time they sit in their new installations. The enthusiasm was contagious, too. The organizing team, led by architect Argjira Krasniqi, started planning to expand the interventions in additional university campuses, experiment with Permaculture vegetable gardens and pocket parks in downtown Prishtina. This is a city ‘struggling’ to reclaim and protect public spaces from private interests. This process of empowerment, courage, and initiative does not only apply to Prishtina and the special conditions there. We witnessed it from Copenhagen to Rome, and from London

to Tel Aviv. In all these cities, students were eager to get their hands dirty to design and build installations that change the existing reality, in a variety of circumstances and scales:






a bus stop of recycled newspapers in London; a wooden pavilion in Boscoincita park in Milano; street markets in Copenhagen; public seating and areas for play at the Valle Aurelia urban park in Rome, and a park in a soccer stadium parking lot in Thessaloniki. These are only a few examples of what students have accomplished during ECOWEEK workshops. Palestinian architect Omar Yousef once said that ECOWEEK is like a healthy forest: it provides a safe platform for diversity and cooperation. As bees will come when we plant flowers, children will come when we set up seating or playing installations. Watching students’ enthusiasm, I have come to believe that the majority of architecture students have chosen this profession, because they see themselves not only as designers, but also as entrepreneurs and as advocates for change. At ECOWEEK they find an educational platform to think outside the box, experiment, ask different questions, and design interventions in cooperation with professionals and students.



A social dynamics develops through human contact, communication, mentorship, learning, exchange of ideas, and the weaving of a human and cultural web. At ECOWEEK, students have access to a growing network of peers in 54 countries and opportunities to secure internships at leading firms. After 10 years of activity in 12 countries, 24 international conferences, 200 design workshops, and more than 4,000 young participants, the experience in Prishtina, reminded me again of my years at Yale. The diversity of voices that is at the heart of ECOWEEK, and is now presented in this book, the wealth of sustainable projects and intellectual and professional commitment, are here to inspire us and to confuse us to the point where each one of us will discover our own voice for sustainability. Aegina, Greece October 2015

Elias Messinas is an architect, environmental consultant, educator, and social entrepreneur. He is the founding chairman of ECOWEEK and the coordinator of its activity around the world.


“People should be able to live exactly the way they want, or even better, while maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. Essentially it is to approach the question of sustainability, not as a moral dilemma, but as a design challenge.” Bjarke Ingels, BIG


PREVIOUS: Experimenting with newspapers in London. A bus stop built entirely of newspapers. ECOWEEK workshop team of HAWK (Germany) Thomas Kauertz (Architect) and Anja Markwart (Civil engineer) (Photographer Antonina Bukowska)

1. Urban development above an unused railway right-of-way, linking separated residential neighborhoods with a linear park and mixed use buildings (Courtesy of Price, Piltzer, Yawitz Architects) 2. The linear park, lined with galleries and cafes, includes a pond for returning processed runoff rainwater to the natural aquifer. A bike path in the park avoids intersections between the cycle route, the light rail, and motorized traffic (Courtesy of Price, Piltzer, Yawitz Architects) 3. Urban Renewal of an old industrial park with mixed use buildings along the park (Courtesy of Price, Piltzer, Yawitz Architects) 4. An Industrial park revitalized with a rapid transit system, bike lanes linking residential neighborhoods, new public spaces on illegal parking lots, and a linear park passing over the huge underground national water carrier pipes (Courtesy of Price, Piltzer, Yawitz Architects)

Bringing it all together 19

Dan Price


ver the past few years, our office has become involved in large urban renewal projects and in particular, revitalizing old industrial parks. These industrial parks were originally designed and built by architects trained in the modernist tradition, many of whom harbored a deep faith in the redemptive power of technology, and believed that industrialization would herald a brave new egalitarian society. Unfortunately, World War II shattered their hope, and we came to understand that together with enormous benefits came the threat of mass killing and environmental destruction (Auschwitz, Hiroshima, et alia). Indeed, social mobility, improved health care, affordable housing, cheap global communication, and efficient mass production have improved the lives of many millions. Yet even more have been left behind. We may concern ourselves with social, economic, and environmental sustainability, but others are concerned with mere survival. The growing disparity between the top and bottom percentiles of our society is a veritable stain on humanity.

The speed with which the economies of the industrial and developing nations adopted and adapted to new technologies has proven to be an equally sharp double-edged sword. As professionals and academics, we are constantly retraining and retooling: learning new software, studying new legislation, understanding new materials, and filtering the endless stream of new products flooding the market. If ‘once upon a time’ we revered the elders of our profession for their depth of knowledge, today we reward those who have broad ‘horizontal’ knowledge, a superficial understanding of different fields, and are nimble enough to integrate them. This is where ECOWEEK has found its footing. During the one-week workshops we, the participating tutors, are removed from our safe and familiar environments and are stripped of our ranks and roles. We meet colleagues and students from different countries and adjacent disciplines to find out more about their practice, how they are coping with the challenges, and share our concerns. Unlike


many professional conferences, at ECOWEEK workshops there is no hierarchy of expert lecturers and passive participants. We all roll up our sleeves and work. No one is paid, and there are neither grades, reports to academic committees, or shareholders. No one is selling anything to anyone. We do, however, have the opportunity for self-searching, open discussion, non-judgmental evaluation, and the not-so-supple reminder that we all have a lot to learn. ECOWEEK is also an opportunity to role play. Unfortunately, professional specialization is encouraged and guarded both by academia and professional guilds. ECOWEEK workshops, organized around multidisciplinary teams, allow us to briefly play the role of other professions and enrich our understanding of their specialized knowledge. Specialization was also a characteristic of early urban planning, expressed by a rigid separation of functions and land-use by zoning. For example, planners believed that because industries produced noise and pollution, and because they required access for trucks and heavy machinery, it was wise to


locate them some distance from residential neighborhoods. Indeed, all the industrial parks built in Israel from 1948 to 1970 reflected these town-planning principles. They were typically located downwind and topographically below the residential neighborhoods, with access to sources of water used for cleaning and cooling. All too often the industrial plants also dumped their refuse into these bodies of water, until the 1990s, when regulatory authorities stepped in to enforce the law and protect the environment. Fifty years later, the Israeli economy has been transformed, and business parks are now regulated, quiet, and clean. Instead of workers in greasy blue overalls, one sees technicians in white lab coats. Smoke stack industries have been replaced by hi-tech hubs of global corporations and hyper-energetic start-up teams collaborating in shared spaces. However, the industrial zones are still separated from the residential neighborhood and the old tire repair shops and panel beaters are being squeezed out by rising rents and the value of real estate. During the past few years, our office has




become increasingly involved in urban renewal and specifically the issues of old industrial parks. Our focus has been on integrating these industrial zones with the city fabric by linking them with bike lanes, running paths, and public transport routes. The buffer zones between the existing residential neighborhoods and the old industrial parks have been landscaped into public parks with sports facilities, community gardens, and wetlands. But most controversial has been the effort to introduce residential development into the industrial parks to develop a truly sustainable urban environment. In Israel there is currently an acute shortage of affordable housing, and investment in student housing, protected living for the elderly, and long-

term rental units has become very profitable. Together with the municipal planning authorities and through carefully orchestrated public participation, we have been able to develop an economic model which uses residential building rights as an incentive to developers to invest in the industrial neighborhoods and their infrastructure. Our work in urban renewal involves extensive research into the history of the area and understanding how and why the specific urban morphology developed. In one project, we discovered that a large makeshift parking lot had evolved because of a huge national water carrier tunnel passing deep below. In another project, we learned that the Israel



Railway Company had a historic right-ofway through the property, which limited development and created planning anomalies never intended or expected. In both these projects we identified the opportunity to create large urban parks and wetlands, which themselves could catalyze urban renewal and invite residential development within the industrial zone. Transforming these ideas into statutory plans is a long complex process, primarily the result of a coherent and committed client and design team. The ECOWEEK discussions cemented our conviction that when thinking about urban renewal, our contribution to social justice and economic sustainability

are possibly more important than the environmental objectives. My involvement in ECOWEEK workshops forced me to confront profound questions regarding sustainability, teamwork, stakeholder participation, and the potential of seemingly minor urban interventions to radically transform our reality. I hope the collection of articles in this first ECOWEEK book will similarly challenge and inspire others and motivate them to share their stories and enrich us all. Dan Price is an architect, principal at Price, Piltzer, Yawitz Architects practicing in Tel Aviv and a PhD candidate focusing on the social housing projects built in Israel 1948-1967 as a model for sustainable housing.


“ECOWEEK is like a healthy forest: it is about diversity and sustainability.� Omar Yussef Architect


24 PREVIOUS: ECOWEEK 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey, hosted by Mimar Sinan University (Image ECOWEEK)


1. Rail track demolition at Urban Outfitters Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 2. Trenton factory meadow, Trenton, New Jersey (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 3. Copper processing plant, Ducktown, Tennessee (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 4. Evaston (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 5. WARNING sign, Union Railroad railyard, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 6. Rail track demolition at Urban Outfitters Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 7. Salvaged concrete pavers construction at Urban Outfitters Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 8. Trenton factory meadow, Trenton, New Jersey (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 9. Be Inspired billboard, Trenton, New Jersey (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 10. Boy Scout collage with Ray Mortenson photo (Courtesy of DIRT Studio) 11. Park Ranger collage with Ray Mortenson photo (Courtesy of DIRT Studio)

Julie Bargmann (USA) Internationally recognized as an innovative designer in building regenerative landscapes and in interdisciplinary design education.

Julie Bargmann 25



Finding the Formless Julie Bargmann Excerpt from the publication ‘#01 Formless,’ part of the Storefront for Art and Architecture Manifesto series. 1. W asted landscapes are beautiful. Certainly some of them are poisonous, and we shouldn’t eat the dirt. But they aren’t as bad as many people claim. Derelict land isn’t bad; it’s just been abandoned.

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3. Industrial standards weren’t very nice either. They allowed dumping waste into earth and water to make more and more and more. Dumping crap anywhere industry wanted was business as usual. And, by the way, you the consumer, were no innocent bystander.


2. Trashing a landscape takes a lot of hard work - machines running on fossil fuels and hundreds of men, women, and children working for generations. They made the stuff we want - but at a cost to all of us. The ground is soaked with toxins, but also with the sweat of human labor. The decision to so-called ‘clean up’ these troubled sites - which really means to camouflage them doesn’t recognize all that hard work. The impulse to erase evidence of that hard work isn’t very nice.


4. These landscapes where goods were formed now seem formless. At first glance they’re a jumble of useless stuff now kept at careful distance. But they deserve a second glance – and a second chance. Industrial leftovers are good ingredients; industrial processes can reproduce healthy frictions. Still to most people, this landscape appears worthless.

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5. Beneath the asphalt cracks, there are ambitious tracks. The concrete is full of energy, namely the human energy that poured it into place. Why throw away such good energy? Why banish it to a landfill when it’s fine as is, where it belongs? And what about that stream that’s working its way back to the surface? You may not be able to see it - but it’s there. The wasted landscape, the formless landscape, the empty landscape, is dormant yet full.


6. I say: Go ahead, work with it! The traces of labor can be sublime. So, don’t domesticate them. Simply show that the layered landscape you uncover will be full of site histories. Do it with conviction, but with caution. Use restraint. The forms you’ll find are better than anything you’d be able to design.


7. What will you name this landscape? It’s not a park as we know it. It’s not exactly a garden. It’s not landscape urbanism. It’s a landscape of urbanism. Perhaps a form of wild urbanism? It’s 40% of Trenton. It’s very, very Detroit. It’s the urban wilderness we have yet to grasp and celebrate.


8. This is our Urban Frontier.



9. This is our American Icon.

10. This is our National Park.




1. Amager Bakke Waste To Energy Plant in Copenhagen (Courtesy of BIG & MIR) 2. Danish Expo Pavilion 2010 (Photographer Iwan Baan) 3. Copenhagen Harbor Bath (Photographer Julien De Smedt) 4, 5,6,7,8,9. Amager Bakke Waste To Energy Plant in Copenhagen (Courtesy of BIG)

Bjarke Ingels (Denmark & USA) Architect founder of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) after co-founding PLOT Architects and working at OMA in Rotterdam. Author of Yes is More.

Bjarke Ingels 31



Hedonistic Sustainability Bjarke Ingels


he general perception is that sustainability implies a moral code: How much of our current quality of life are we prepared to sacrifice in our quest for sustainablity? It is the Protestant perception, that being good requires pain, and therefore a sustainable lifestyle requires sacrifices. We are looking at how sustainable cities or sustainable buildings can improve the quality of life. We want to find ways of designing buildings and cities as ecosystems that are both ecologically and economically profitable and where people don’t need to alter their lifestyle to placate their conscience. People should be able to live exactly the way they want, or even better, while maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. Essentially, we approach the question of sustainability not as a moral dilemma, but as a design challenge.

In our design of the Danish Pavilion of the Shanghai World Expo, the principle idea was to illustrate that a sustainable city can increase the quality of urban life.We used the example of Copenhagen where the use of bicycles has priority. 37% of all Copenhageners commute by bike, and we have virtually no traffic jams. 33 The joy of riding your bike replaces being stuck in a traffic jam or looking endlessly for parking. In Copenhagen, our harbor is clean enough for people to swim. So, the Copenhagen Harbour Bath, one of our first realized projects, extends public life into the water in the middle of the city. These are ideas which enhance the physical quality of urban life for those who use the facility and for those who don’t. The entire community benefits. In our current project, the Waste-To-Energy Power plant, the building serves as a ski slope for the citizens of Copenhagen. The building is



economically profitable, because it turns waste into heat and energy. It is environmentally profitable, because it reduces the amount of waste destined for the landfill. In Denmark only 4% of waste ends up in landfills: most is either burned for energy or recycled. The building is also socially profitable, because it actually encourages social activity and sport– skiing - which would otherwise be impossible. Copenhagen has the climate for snow skiing, but not the topography. With this building Copenhagen will have its first ski mountain. Currently, people commute eight hours to southern Sweden where the slope is only a third higher than on this building. We are designing a black slope, a blue slope, and a green slope, all of which loop around. There is even a mogul slope! The lower slope is for beginners and children. All end up at the elevator adjacent to the incinerator chimney.



The brief called for a visitor’s center to show school children where and how the waste turns into power. We were concerned that the children would only visit the facility once, when their teacher asked them to. What if the facility actually became a destination? What if this was a place you discover by accident? Why did we put this ski slope here? Ah, it’s because it is on top of a waste-to-energy power plant. It becomes the ultimate symbol of sustainability. We were asked to design a building around the machinery and to make it look beautiful. The beautification of a factory. The client also asked the architects to illuminate the factory, so it looks beautiful at night. If you


take a cynical approach, adding lights is just a waste of energy. So we thought to add a social program. How do you take the ultimate symbol of work, production, and pollution, and turn it into something playful and educational? 35

The factory chimney we soon learned is a 30-meter diameter cylinder that fills up with steam­– 200 kilos of steam to be exact. So we designed a piston which blows giant steam rings. The idea is a symbol of hedonistic sustainability: a factory which blows giant steam rings. But the idea is that steam is also difficult to measure. We know that one of the main drivers of behavioral change is knowledge. We only ‘know’ what we can measure. Until now we do not really understand what is coming out of the chimney. When the Waste-to-Energy plant opens to the public by 2017, I can tell my children that every five steam rings that come out of the chimney is one tone of CO2. It is like a game. How to take the ultimate symbol of work, production, and pollution, turn it into something playful that helps you measure and understand, and through play, lead to behavioral change toward sustainability.






1. Botanic Garden, Bordeaux (Courtesy of Jourda Architects Paris) 2. Rehabilitation of Halle Pajol, Paris (Photographer Axel Tilche Dahl) 3. Formation Center, Herne Sodingen (Courtesy of Jourda Architects Paris) 4. Collective Housing, Vitry sur Seine (Photographer Axel Tilche Dahl) 5, 6, 7. Rehabilitation of Halle Pajol, Paris (Photographer 11h45)

Françoise-Hélène Jourda (1955-2015) (France) Award-winning architect Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, and a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. The article was written in August 2013.

Françoise-Hélène Jourda (1955-2015)




About Sustainability Françoise-Hélène Jourda


he world is undergoing lasting change. We are all confronted with this reality, and we recognize that our current way of life must be reformed and our consumption contained. Bridging the gap between developing and industrialized countries is critical. As fortunate denizens of a democratic and wealthy Europe, we have participated in the exploitation of the world’s available resources (and are still doing so), and therefore are responsible in part for Climate Change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases. The building sector consumes roughly 40% of available materials, water resources, and fossil energy. As architects we carry a particular responsibility, because of our influence in the building sector. We propose, design, and

build our cities, thereby directly influencing the quality of life for millions of people. The challenge is to discover alternate methods of building spaces, of designing them, and working together with our clients, consultants, and future users. We need to start our own revolution! We need to accept that we work in the service of others. We need to acknowledge that we are not the only participants qualified to think about the city and the built environment. We need to be more humble. We need to be more respectful of our environment. I am not sure we are prepared for this challenge. I was brought up in the 1950s



and 1960s, when technical progress was perceived to ensure a better life for everyone on the planet. We thought there was no limit to the resources available, and there was little consideration for their renewal. 40

Today we know better. We have to invent a different Architecture, work closer with technicians and engineers, listen to the users, respond to their needs, and give priority to comfort and health.


Our responsibility is even greater considering that our current European lifestyle cannot be seen as an example to developing countries. We need to renounce our ‘universalist’ aspirations, which we hoped would offer lasting answers to all human needs. Every building has to be different in response to


the site, the topography, the climate, and the local resources. Our work should minimize the use of non-renewable resources, learn from traditional architectures, and aspire to frugal solutions. Writing these thoughts is indeed easy; putting them to practice is far more difficult. We have clients. There are lobbies, and our laws and regulations sometimes make this approach difficult, even dangerous. In my practice, I try every day to push the limits. We constantly ask ourselves if we are making responsible Architecture, discovering new shapes, experimenting with new technologies, looking at new ways of using old materials, or exploring new materials. We seek to work with builders and firms who



are trying to transform their businesses and 41 relationship with their clients or employees. This is sustainability: the revolution in our minds and in our tools. It will take time, but there is no other way. There will be failures along the way. We will stumble and pick ourselves up, because we have to. If not, we shall not meet the requirements of the next generations. Addressing these challenges makes me a happy architect!



1. A small-scale agricultural center (Courtesy of Terreform) 2. An automated vertical produce farm (Courtesy of Terreform) 3. A vertical poultry farm (Courtesy of Terreform) 4. A small urban greenhouse (Courtesy of Terreform) 5. A repurposed street, including agricultural production (Courtesy of Terreform) 6. Section through a self-sufficient block in Sunnyside, Queens (Courtesy of Terreform) 7. A vertical farm in Manhattan with produce growing capacity for 30,000 people (Courtesy of Terreform) 8. Block interior in Sunnyside, Queens (Courtesy of Terreform)

Michael Sorkin (USA) Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the City College of New York. President of Terreform and principal of Michael Sorkin Studio.

Michael Sorkin 43



Love Thy Neighbor(hood) Michael Sorkin


eighborliness is the hallmark of the decent city. While this quality, which compounds generosity, caring, tolerance, and quotidian exchange, is not uniquely urban, it is founded in the idea of proximity. The idea of a ‘nearest neighbor’ may be flexible; it is, nevertheless, a product of geography: one might travel to the next farm to find a tow for the tractor, but a cup of sugar or glass of Scotch is more likely borrowed across the hall. For an urbanist, geography is destiny. There is a conversation in philosophical circles – descending through Jesus, Freud, Levinas, Zizek, and others – about the nature of the neighbor. The biblical imperative to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is contradicted by Freud, who understands the relationship to the neighbor – especially the stranger – as marked by a fundamental and mutual hostility. For Levinas, though, the biblical injunction is not simply immanent in ourselves, it potentiates our very being. This discussion always involves the intercourse of physics and metaphysics and, in considering neighborliness, neither can be excluded. Let us, therefore, stipulate that propinquity and neighborliness are overlapping, but nonidentical categories. But let me also state a preference for the idea that physical settings have the capacity to support and advance styles of life and habits of conscience, and that the neighborhood – although it can be inward-turning, riven, sectarian, or hostile – has a singular ability to nurture not simply affiliation, but amity.

The neighborhood is, of course, the physical construct that most clearly embodies the idea of neighborliness at the scale of the group. It’s a territory defined by a density of social networks and by a primacy offered to the possibilities of encounters face to face. The predicates for such places are a 45 compound of dimension, community, safety, accessibility, convenience, and an array of compacts of both conviviality and collective self-regulation. However elastic their boundaries may be, there is an inevitable basis in limits, which describe the terms both of affinity and strangeness. Neighborhoods also have a temporal component which helps to define their modes of succession and fix their identities. There is, for example, a difference between the character of the historic succession of immigrant communities through the Lower East Side of New York and the rapid turnover of young singles in the cookie-cutter studio apartments of the Upper East. Some of this is the product of culture, and some the result of the physical circumstances of adjacency and of the character of the interstitial space of the street and of other places of mixing and encounter. Modernist planning, in its utilitarian undertaking, recognized the central role of neighborhoods in the formation of cities but attempted to reduce them to a fundamentally mathematical construct. Thus ‘neighborhood units’ became a functionalist attempt to assess how many school seats, how many football fields, how many square feet of commercial space, and how many apartments comprised the ideal increment of urban addition. The



fantasy that morphology produces community is also characteristic of the New Urbanists, but with a different inflection. For them, the artistic displaces the arithmetic as the guarantor of community. In their mimetic project, the architectural forms associated with putatively successful historic neighborhoods are transferred to new territories as an act of faith. But witness the girl shot dead in Detroit as she knocked on a stranger’s front door after her car broke down; a front porch is an insufficient apparatus for ensuring urban decency. For some time, Terreform, the non-profit I direct, has been working on a project to examine the level of self-sufficiency that might be achieved by New York City. Our study – New York City (Steady) State - looks at the impact of a more economic and ecological expansion of the defining idea of neighborhood, accepting the idea of a threshold of completeness, but dramatically enlarging its remit. While this fairly wooly undertaking - and the idea of autarky - are not uncontroversial, our work is meant to look at the way in which the city


functions in a decent and neighborly way in its relation to the planet. It examines the nature of the exchange by which we ‘borrow’ oxygen, water, food, energy, labor, and other forms of wealth from our global neighbors, both human and ‘natural.’ We treat New York as, inter alia, one neighborhood in a global city and – assessing an income gap as extreme as between Park Avenue and Mott Haven as parallel to that between France and Sierra Leone – try to imagine a native distributive system that will contribute to the projects of both equality and responsibility. But if New York can be seen as a neighborhood on an urbanized planet, it is also a city made up of a mosaic of neighborhoods, and the vitality of each should be understood as critical to the variety of all. Our reimagination of the city has, as its fundamental predicate, the idea that the infrastructure of self-sufficiency should be as legible as possible. We’ve therefore been interested in an idea of a semi-autonomous or ‘harmonized’ neighborhood, a place in which all of the necessities of daily life are

located within walking distance of home. This, of course, has quite a few implications for urban design. To begin, it suggests that the mix of uses in the city will be reproduced in microcosm in individual neighborhoods, that each will include numbers of jobs, school seats, recreational activities, and retail and cultural opportunities that bear a direct relation to the number of people who live nearby – we do not eschew the quantitative and admit our debt to past formulations of neighborhood and production units. It also suggests that that the demographics of neighborhoods reflect the array of opportunities that each offers. Thus one would expect that they would provide the opportunity for affordable housing for teachers, baristas, shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, musicians, janitors, craftspeople, farmers, policemen, and all the others necessary to make the neighborhood go. Of course, the idea is not to make noncommunicating enclaves – gated communities - and, for this reason, we prefer the idea of harmonization to more coercively communal strategies. The decent city must preserve the idea of freedom of choice, and one of the foundations of choice and development in such a city is the continuous production of 4

accidents of encounters with both neighbors and strangers. Ideas about movement and its freedoms are obviously fundamental to this. The notion is to ratchet up distributive equity via the allocation of residential, employment and opportunity across a wider ambit, while simultaneously assuring the protection, 47 flexibility, creation, and intercourse of communities. The search for greater levels of urban autonomy – and responsibility – will continuously beg the question of various bounding membranes. These must always be transparent to ideas and to the movement of bodies. Beyond this, though, one might expect a variety of gradients defined by affinity, culture, and various forms of selfinterest. Moreover, one does not look, as modernist planning so tenaciously did, at the creation of an arrangement of fundamentally identical cells à la Brasilia, the neighborhood unit, or the suburban subdivision; the task is to find the balance of equity, autonomy, and difference. Which begs the question of the sources of neighborhood variety. Our proposal is not hostile to the idea of comparative advantage, but assumes that this will grow from different skills, cultures, and choices, not from uneven development, access to raw materials, or the 5



plan of the colonizer or central committee. Indeed, the struggle of the globalized city, threatened simultaneously by the relentless homogenization of everything, is precisely to find the basis for its own originality. I am arguing that the power of increasingly localized means of autonomy can be the primary hedge in this struggle, and that this will embrace culture, bio-region and art, as well as the economic implications of selfreliance. New York is particularly interesting as an example because of the enormous diversity of its population, and we glory in streets intensely inflected by Bangladeshi culture in Jackson Heights, Arab culture in downtown Brooklyn, or Chinese culture in Flushing. While none of us wishes to sacrifice the vibrancy of this arrangement, we still tread a fine line between the ghetto and Disneyland. Self-determination is the key to resisting both. The fantasy informing our project is that neighborhood specialization can enjoy strong cultural inflection, produced by certain forms of elective yet non-exclusionary affinity. If the array of economic opportunities remains broad and the availability of housing reflects a progressive attitude toward equity, the grounds for choice will be far less coerced, and a protected price structure will forestall

gentrification and other subversions of security of tenure. There must be limits on the creative destruction of people’s lives in the name of the so-called freedom of the market. Is it controversial to say that the right to stability is now a progressive default? As I write this, a new mayor has just taken office in New York, elected overwhelmingly on the promise to make an equitable reduction of our obscene income gap his top priority, and we address this project to just such hopes. In our scheme, the devolution of responsibility and autonomy down the scale of urban spatial increments – from the city, to the district, to the neighborhood, to the block, to the building, to the dwelling – is not simply a strategy for democratizing the city but for radically altering its environmental performance. It’s always logical to begin to think about sustainability on the demand side of the equation, and this means not simply that individual behavior is central but that the opportunity costs for such behavior must be reduced with the least possible sacrifice. To cite one example, urban transportation demand is in great measure a product of the daily cycle of commuting. But if a neighborhood offers both residences and workplaces, the need for large movement systems can be dramatically reduced, if only


by smoothing out the cycle of demand. The same is true for a variety of other functions and, of course, constellations of adjacent neighborhoods – accessible on foot, bike, or other environmentally benign means – can be planned to house functions that require a larger population to support. The same strategy can be applied to a variety of other respiratory functions, but the outcomes are often complex and less straightforward. For example, we have spent several years examining the prospects of food self-sufficiency in New York. Although we have proved the marginal possibility of providing 8.5 million people with 2,500 nutritious calories per day from production entirely within the city’s political boundaries, the costs are high. It isn’t simply that the production of certain categories of food are either very difficult – coffee to take one utter necessity – or disproportionately expensive. It makes very little economic sense to compete against the grain production of the Great Plains, in that the mode of production, which would necessarily involve widespread use of vertical farms, presents considerable difficulties of organization. Such large-scale production begs the question of large-scale control, and the difficulty in keeping the wolves of agribusiness from the door of such farms would be great. More, these farms are hugely inefficient from the standpoint of energy. We


have estimated that for a 100% food solution, 49 heating, lighting, and the energy embodied in construction, would require the equivalent of something like 25 nuclear power plants. Not in my backyard! But now the exercise gets interesting. If the premise is to maximize both local control and local respiratory autonomy, a much more subtle and flexible attitude is demanded. And the pursuit of a set of “sweet spots” of neighborhood communal enterprise is where the conjunction of morphology and metaphysics might be said to truly occur. This is not the occasion to go into the variety of technological, organizational, morphological, and social strategies we have investigated, although some are illustrated, and we have published many more. It is clear, however, that from the perspective of the formation, defense, expansion, overlap, and intercourse of urban groups, the introduction of higher levels of neighborhood autonomy and a collaboration with the largest group of all – the citizenry of Earth – can be a major influence on the pervasiveness of the institutions of decency in the city. This is a task for both metaphysics and physics, for democracy, for culture, for survival, and for urban design.


1. The Vertical Village (Courtesy of MVRDV) 2, 3. Shopping Center in Barcelona (Courtesy of MVRDV) 4, 5. Almere Oosterwold, The Netherlands (Courtesy of MVRDV) 6. Floriade, Almere (The Netherlands) (Courtesy of MVRDV) 7. The Vertical Village (Courtesy of MVRDV)

Marta Pozo (Holland & China) Architect and licensed BREEAM assessor. Project Leader and leading Sustainability at MVRDV. Director of MVRDV Asia.

Marta Pozo 51



A Contradictory Guest Marta Pozo


he United Nations holds a megascaled international conference on sustainable development. Vogue promotes eco-friendly fashion by Eco Chic Parties. President Obama allows the White House roof to be retrofitted with solar panels. Google is creating a green web that is better for the environment. Traditional light bulbs are banned in favor of energy efficient alternatives. Ecotourism is becoming a profitable business…. Yet, despite all the attention and consensus, sustainability is still the contradictory guest of our cities. It is a concept as popular as it is manipulated. I. An Uneasy Relationship Sustainability was an avant-garde idea when it emerged in the 1960s; then it became a style, a concept, a trend, a religion, a regulation, and nowadays, in many countries it is a standard of different fields and categories. Embarrassingly enough, in the field of architecture and urban planning, sustainable solutions have often eschewed attractiveness. Buckminster Fuller once wrote, ‘when I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But, when I have

finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.’ Focused on breaking the addiction to kilowatts and emissions, sustainable approaches have often ignored the qualitative benefits of beauty and pleasure, forgetting that urbanities 53 love allure and delight. A neighborhood which is loved by its residents improves the quality of life in the city for all. Furthermore, people take care of the places they love. As the Senegalese environmentalist Baba Diorum said, ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love.’ Long—term value is impossible without a sense of beauty and delight to boot. People do not waste what they enjoy. If places inspire citizens, it is likely that they will continue to use and preserve them. MVRDV’s Proposal for a New Shopping Center in Barcelona, Spain, is an example of how nature can stimulate our daily urban activities and bring new experiences to our daily routine. The forest on the roof of the center has a positive impact on its immediate surroundings, a welcoming and iconic element that brings new identity to the



neighborhood, and enriches the daily life of the neighbors by both offering an intense experience of nature and by improving the air quality. The shopping center becomes a real public green space where children run after squirrels and rabbits, while their parents do the grocery shopping. The building is an example of how shopping malls can become less generic, less hermetically sealed environments, and give back more to the local communities. Furthermore, the green roof provides excellent insulation and allows the building to function as much as possible without air-conditioning, due to the cooling effect of the forest above. The building embodies an integrated or holistic idea of sustainability which goes beyond technical solutions. II. Do-It-Together Urbanism Over the last few decades, the reaction of architects and urban planners to sustainability has all too often been confusing and selfcontradictory: either extremely complex or extremely naive. As professionals we have faced our responsibility toward the planet with high-tech solutions or by merely dressing facades in green. Designs allege sustainability through the inclusion of urban farming or complex diagrams that the users will neither understand nor implement. The result has been the construction of buildings that people do not feel comfortable using and do not understand. Is there a way to design buildings which are efficient, beautiful, and loved by their users? Is there a way to successfully communicate issues of sustainability in buildings and urban environments to the public in a way which is


playful and enjoyable? Architects want to create individuality, identity and singularity for the good of the citizens. However, the design process is still exclusive to architects, engineers, and developers. The development of a more open creative process could have a great impact on conservation, sustainability, and comfort. The question of creating high quality sustainable environments through master planning and urban design is one which has fascinated MVRDV since the publication of early manifestos, such as KM3 and Farmax. MVRDV’s Project Freeland is a development strategy for Almere Oosterwold, in the Netherlands, which offers maximum freedom for individual and collective initiatives. Freeland started from a governmental decision to promote initiatives, so that residents can create their own neighborhoods. These need to include green commons, energy supply, water and waste management, urban agriculture, and infrastructure. Freeland is an unexpected urbanism full of surprises with a rich collection of houses and alternate

initiatives. This is a city not dominated by structure - a city that we develop collectively. Here facilities are developed by individuals, collectives, and public organizations. Freeland is imagined as an alternative mode of development to the typical, monofunctional suburb. It is a bottom-up, open source city, a kind of do-it-yourself, or actually do-it-together urbanism which will create a new kind of sustainable city. Freeland allows the community to grow organically over a long period of time. To contribute to the city’s sustainability goals, 50% of the area will be used for agriculture, producing food products for the city and maintaining the current agricultural character of the landscape. This development strategy, based on individual initiatives, will transform the large-scale polders into a more differentiated landscape, integrating green and urban programs, and creating a truly mixed use living and working environment. The development will be guided by a set of principles for each participant, based on one main idea: you are able to do everything you want, but you have to arrange everything yourselves, while not harming those around you. The initiators will develop all elements of their plots according to a predefined programmatic division, which includes a piece of public road, green space, water buffer, and space for urban agriculture. A continuous accessible ‘path’ around each plot and a setback from the roads for all building programs will guarantee a permeable and continuously accessible green landscape.

III. Addictive Fun Despite all the positive effects of sustainable design on creating high quality buildings and environments, it is still considered by developers and architects as a burden. Many professionals think of sustainability as a necessary sacrifice to save the planet or as a 55 politically correct position to get commissions. It is only through a new relationship between urban planning and the natural world that sustainability can mean added excitement and stimulating activities in the city. The Wild and the Urban can be good bedfellows, if city planners focus on coexistence among urban development, people, and nature. The city can become a melting pot of multiculturalism and multi-naturalism to the benefit of all.





Weaving nature into urban environments creates places that are not just ornamental or isolated parks. It creates exciting, interesting, and stimulating places. Once you have been there, you want to return. Floriade, another project developed by MVRDV for the city of Almere in the Netherlands, takes as its premise the simple pleasure of plants and trees integrated into our everyday lives and the city around us. This simple idea will translate into an urban landscape that directly integrates the qualities of different species into the built environment. It will create a rich variety of architectural and urban experiences which embrace, rather than eschew, the natural world. Can such a symbiosis between city and landscape be an alternative to the rapidly depleting resources which result from rapidly and massive urbanization? Enriching our everyday lives with plants, while creating a world-class, energy- and food-generating city center will be the challenge of the project as it develops over the next 10 years. Almere Floriade will be a grid of gardens on a 45—hectare square shaped peninsula. Each block will be devoted to different plants. The blocks are each focused on different programs, from pavilions to homes, offices, and even a university which will be organized as a stacked botanical garden, a vertical ecosystem in which each classroom will have a different climate to grow certain plants. Visitors will be able to stay in a jasmine hotel,

swim in a lily pond and dine in a rose garden. The legacy of the project will be its conversion into an extension of the existing city center. It will offer homes in orchards, offices with planted interiors, and bamboo parks. The Expo and new city center will be a place that produces food and energy, a green, urban district demonstrating how plants, indeed nature itself, enrichs every aspect of our daily lives. IV. Individual, Informal, Intense2 Sustainability is a contradictory concept; it requires long term thinking in a world of constantly changing conditions. We build today without knowing what the needs and goals of our society will be tomorrow. Architects and urban planners are required to interpret our era, as well as the future. In this regard, flexibility has become the key to sustainability. Over the past decades, debates on city planning have become more and more concerned with sustainable urban development, encouraging more research, but very little in the way of change or action. We should address the subject with renewed vigor. Is there an existing model for a new kind of city? Does a highly structured neighborhood offer the sustainable growth to which experts and citizens aspire? Is Masdar City in Abu Dhabi the example to follow? Is the renovation of historic European cities such as Copenhagen or Oslo more relevant? Are there alternatives to these two scenarios?

Certain ideas have been broadly accepted: a compact footprint, high density living, mixed used programming, affordability, diversity, human scale, low energy consumption, vibrant public spaces, and community life. It is important that the future of the city should lie not in the opaque, top-down model of city planners or in the self-promotional dreams of developers, but at the intimate scale of the needs and desires of its inhabitants. MVRDV and The Why Factory envision a new model for the development of cities. The Vertical Village is a three—dimensional community intended to bring back personal autonomy, diversity, flexibility, and neighborhood life to the cities. Driven by demographic and economic forces, Asian cities are rapidly changing. In a relentless ‘Block Attack,’ massive towers, slabs and blocks with repetitive housing units, floor plans, and facades are invading – scraping away the urban villages that have evolved over hundreds of years. These alien buildings provide a Western standard of living, while destroying indigenous communities and richly evolved social networks. Their rapid development obstructs urban innovation and discourages diversity, flexibility, and individually tailored ideas and design solutions. Is there a better way to develop these areas? Could we densify them without sacrificing the informality of the urban village? Could we apply the principles of informality to generate new neighborhoods? What if we could develop urban villages vertically, as an



alternative to the monotonous sea of blocks? To develop the Vertical Village, a truly selforganized and self-motivated model of city building is required. The model combines individuality, diversity, and collective organization with the need for urban density.1 Paradoxically, sustainability is becoming a part of mass consumer culture at the precise time that international institutions and politicians are facing the difficulty of maintaining a collective agenda. This represents a success for the sustainability movement on the one hand, but also the lack of a long—term collective commitment and political will. Are these contradictions too profound, or can we address the contradictions and will our design skills rise to the challenge? It is critical that sustainability is no longer a guest in the design discourses but an integral player in the mix of interests. Will the architecture and urban planning of the future be a merging of buildings and nature, of towers and small houses, of glamor and folk art, of intellectual debate and spontaneous gestures, of planned cities and favelas, of creativity and conservation, of dreams and reality? ------------------1 The Vertical Village, introduction. Is there a better way? Winy Maas



1. Pineapple cake shop, Aoyama (Photographer Edward Caruso) 2. Pineapple cake shop, Aoyama (Photographer Daici Ano) 3. City Hall, Nagaoka (Photographer Erieta Attali) 4. Yusuhara Marche (Photographer Takumi Ota Photography) 5. Yusuhara Marche (Photographer Takumi Ota Photography) 6. Commune by the Great Wall Hotel, Beijing (Photographer Satoshi Asakawa) 7. Pineapple cake shop, Aoyama (Photographer Daici Ano) 8. City Hall, Nagaoka (Photographer Erieta Attali)

Kengo Kuma (Japan) Architect graduate of the University of Tokyo and Columbia University.

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Eco-city Kengo Kuma


any people associate eco-city with some kind of urban design. The concept of eco-city is not to seek simple architectural beauty, but to conceive the city as a whole on a different scale. Thinking about the eco-city on a small scale is very important. I think that the biggest problem of the twentieth-century city is the scale of Architecture. In the twentieth-century, it was considered important to construct large buildings. In the industrial society, the size of Architecture determines its value: the largeness enriches the value of a structure. Therefore, towering buildings attract attention, and designers and developers compete on the size of their structures.

should be able to carry these wooden poles around. If the materials fell they would not crush them to death. Small materials do not threaten the human body. This is how it is possible to start the conversation between the human body and Architecture. On the other hand, there are few constraints in the use of concrete. The material bonds rapidly and becomes an elusive monolithic object. There is no way to establish a conversation between the frail human body and powerful concrete. I prefer not to use concrete even if it is proven that it is an ecofriendly material, because a conversation cannot be established between the human

These buildings are far too big. They cannot relate to the scale of the human body. Architecture is where people can have an intimate and slow conversation with the world. Therefore, people build houses and churches. However, this intimate conversation was lost in the twentieth-century. To retrieve the conversation, all we have to do is to decrease the size of Architecture. If it is possible, we should make building blocks smaller. Then the conversation will start again between the human body and the small building blocks. In traditional wooden buildings, the conversation was established between the human body and Architecture, because building blocks of wooden buildings were small. The building blocks were inevitably small, because there were a lot of constraints. Architecture should be constructed with 3 x 10 cm poles. People





body and concrete. It is impossible to build an eco-city with such materials.

This means that the making of Architecture is open to society.

I refrain from using large blocks of any material, including wood. For example, I don’t even use laminated wood in large cross-sections.When I use wood, I choose to construct the building using short pieces, with a cross-sectional surface as delicate as possible. It is important to me that building blocks are small, so that everyone can take part in the construction.

I think that Architecture needs to be accessible to everyone, so that the expansion/ reduction of a building can be done by the users themselves. I believe in the immensely growing demand for this Architecture in the future. Eco-city is an open city where people are empowered.





Architecture should also be open, in the sense that everyone can contribute and participate in the design process. Buildings are not open to society just by being physically transparent. We have to consider the meaning of being open, not only in space, but also in time.


To participate in the process means to be open temporally, until design decisions are made. Young architects must learn to design the process. Not just the beauty of the object. A city consisting of temporally open architectures is a real eco-city.



1. Construction of the new staircase leading from the street to the Valle Aurelia park (image ECOWEEK W9/W10) 2, 3. General views of the Valle Aurelia park (image ECOWEEK W9/W10) 4. Building the signage leading to the Valle Aurelia park (image ECOWEEK W9/W10)

Annalisa Metta (Italy) Landscape Architect at OSA Architetture e Paesaggio set up in 2007 in Rome.

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Public Space Design: Three Couples and a Trio Annalisa Metta


he first ECOWEEK workshops in Rome were held in September 2012. Our workshop - Valle Aurelia in Progress - VAP,1 was a production of temporary urban transformation, entirely selffinanced and self-built. In five days, twelve students from five different countries,2 worked together, building an installation on the site at the Valle Aurelia Borghetto.

This was the starting point of VAP: working on voids, transforming the absence produced by demolition. We saw this as an opportunity for healing and creating a new space of urban memory. The vacant lots were seen as an opportunity for socializing and sharing common interests, for playing and meeting, 67 through temporary, reversible, and low-cost interventions.

Until the 1950s, the Borghetto was a little village of workers employed in bricks production. They lived in great hardship, with appalling housing which was often built without permits. The extreme poverty and poor construction was exacerbated by the recurrent flooding of the valley. The neighborhood developed a distinct cultural and social identity.

The design and self-building process used by VAP is part of several similar experiments that propose examples for ‘Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper’ (LQC) urban spaces. Eric Reynolds3 suggested that the terms of comparison ought to be a set of procedures and outcomes of traditional urban design: heavy, slow, and expensive. This scenario has been widely investigated in recent years.4 It is perhaps appropriate, especially in Italy, to dwell on the relationship between this practice and the usual design process, in an attempt to put aside oppositions and propose different ways to conceive and practice urban design.5

In 1976, the City Administration launched a renewal plan for Rome suburbs. Plans for economic investment and social housing were drawn up and realized. Despite the hard and tenacious opposition of the community, in the summer of 1981, the Borghetto was demolished, with the forced relocation of the residents to new public housing. Thirty years after their forced evacuation, a few old buildings still stand next to vacant lots of demolished houses. Neither the demolition nor the rehabilitation have been carried out. The original inhabitants keep the memory of the violent destruction alive and nurture the ghost of the past vitality of their community. The symbol of the public amnesia and abuse is in the abandoned and empty lots.

Intensity/Permanence Works such as VAP create temporary landscapes, not built to be durable, but to be intense, with a high degree of emotional and physical engagement among inhabitants and visitors. The aim is to work on the meaning and intensity of experience, rather than on the permanence of construction. Their outcome, while being visible only for a short time, may trigger new interactions among people and places. For this reason, the design cannot focus on the production of an artifact, but the construction of spatial, cultural, and

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experiential participation. VAP and similar projects can be useful as experimental laboratories for testing the city, dealing both with physical and immaterial components, checking possibilities for marginal landscapes, collecting and spreading ideas of residents, planners, and managers. They can work as prototypes, realizing what Michel Desvigne calls ‘désir de realite et d’architecture’,6 to be applied not only to the spatial modulation of the intervention, but also to its timing. This is not an academic exercise, but a necessity caused by the real outcomes of the financial, economic, and production crisis of the last five years. The inadequacy of long—term planning is clear: we have to change, become flexible and responsive, and structurally available to accommodate often unpredictable urban dynamics. Project timing from master plan to construction, usually measured in multiples of years (in Italy it could be decades), suffers from a constant lag with respect to urban phenomena. By the time plans are approved they are irrelevant. Works such as VAP are possible in real time.

If measured against the usual time scale of urban transformations, these projects happen immediately. Risk/Certainty The freedom allowed in temporary projects to define new categories of spaces, invent new uses, and propose new aesthetics, is certainly greater than in projects intended to be permanent. Clearly, greater care and consideration is required of permanent projects to avoid mistakes, which will last for generations. In other words, temporary projects, because they are reversible, can afford to fail and stumble. Testing the extraordinary creative potential of typological, spatial, behavioral, expressive, and technological innovation is possible in these projects. Temporary projects can break rules, test the limits, can suggest new ideas and provoke intense reactions. They can propose new kinds of spaces as yet without names and suggest uses by integrating and adapting them. The lesson learned should be adopted by lasting interventions. However, this requires a reconciliation of the dichotomy between

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risk and certainty. Permanent projects tend to be founded on prediction. They will last, so they need precise configuration not just of aesthetic design, but also of how they will work, the activities which will be allowed and an anticipation of the accidents that could happen. This approach implies a denial of the unexpected and incidental and the opportunity connected with risk. It builds on the dangerous and not the inventive side of unknown situations. All has to be well known in advance. Actions such as VAP, on the contrary, show the benefit of design as a form of negotiation: negotiation among places, natural elements, and people, instead of design as imposition. They ask to think about how to respond to, support, and follow people and places instead of how to control them. They ask how to welcome and not reject unpredictable events, because life itself is dynamic and changeable. Landscape could be a good paradigm from which to learn. As Gilles Clément writes: ‘Ethnologists, botanists...even sociologists… work with the flowing data of the living world. They are never allowed to describe a situation as stable or permanent. If we take

into account...the philosophy deriving from this, we would imagine planning in a quite different manner. Instead of stiffening the framework of the garden or public spaces, we would imagine those flexible and deep, capable of absorbing the transformation of the living world’.7 Public/Common Most of the public spaces we have learned to deal with in our cities are a creation of modern urban culture. We have to go back to the eighteenth century, when major cities in Europe provided citizens with spaces for open-air social life. Not only public gardens and public parks, but also allées, boulevards, and cours, were added to the historical streets and squares.8 It is not a coincidence that it was the same period of our history when fights for a welfare government, social equity, and justice started to achieve impressive results. In our urban tradition, public spaces have been a great achievement of societies confident of their cultural, political, and ethical values. The public spaces have always been a symbol of the maturity and health of our civil society. But in recent years we have been witnessing a


dramatic and, in my opinion, alarming change. The ‘public’ has become the taboo of our days, not only with regard to urban open space. In a moment of worldwide crisis of representative democracy, the idea of public has been replaced by the idea of common. These two words refer to two different definitions of what is collective: public is what belongs to everybody, without restrictions of any form, including nationality; common is what belongs to a group, less of large size, composed of people who share something that distinguish them from others who are left out. Communities are a value. They are the glue of shared life. Most of the best examples of built projects for urban open spaces realized during the last decade were made possible thanks to the efforts, work, desires, and skills of groups working as a community. But I deeply believe that we, as designers, have to fight in defense of public space. We have to make places fit to express the identity of specific communities and welcome difference and creative conflicts, where different people and ideas can meet and match. That is, real public space. Authoritative/Authoritarian/Authorial When referred to in social dynamics, top down or bottom up are usually used as opposite adverbs showing the direction of democracy. In recent years, there has been a tendency to support initiatives, ideas, and actions directly conceived and realized by communities as the most authentic form of democracy, in opposition to what derives from decisions taken by central governments. By extension,

the idea of professionalism in the design of public space has been confused with the idea of power and authority applied to city and citizens. I think we are dealing with a great misunderstanding. To overcome the paradigm - lazy or cynical – of citizens as customers of a final product. To promote practices of genuine involvement of people. Trying to become familiar with the projects in their communities can never mean, neither for designers nor for administrators, that they abdicate their professional duty of planning by delegating choices and action to the inhabitants. To associate democracy with the lack of design is ruinous, and to interpret VAPtype interventions as a waiver of planning responsibility is misleading. On the contrary, the professionals reclaim the importance and necessity of design in terms of a nondeterministic, joyful, inclusive, and not rhetorical consultation. Designers - urban planners, architects and landscape architects - have a critical social function. They are called to build a better habitat, for and with all other citizens, but with proper tools and skills. Well refined, responsible, socially engaged design is our antidote to the current crisis. This is our commission, and we cannot disregard it. Professionalism in design is critical to our democracy. We must definitely overcome any confusion among three terms when referring to design: authoritative/authoritarian/authorial.

A project for public space should always be authoritative, in terms of leadership, cultured, aware, creative, and deep-rooted. It should never be authoritarian, meaning despotic, intransigent, rigid, hierarchical, and oppressive. It should be authorial, in terms of consciously expected and deliberate. The author can be a group of people, as well a single person. But if we all trust in elective democracy, and we all work to share our idea of a democratic city, urban life, sustainability, beauty, justice, and wealth, we will proudly admit that community will always be the author of every authentic public space. -----------

1 VAP was held by LUS-Living Urban Scape of Roma Tre University, the design office OSA architettura e paesaggio, and the architecture collective Orizzontale. Living Urban Scape is a research program for young researchers funded by Italian Ministry of School, University, and Research. The workshop Valle Aurelia in Progress (VAP) was conceived and led for LUS by Annalisa Metta and Maria Livia Olivetti. VAP was realized with a with a one thousand euro budget, bestowed by LUS. Osa architettura e paesaggio is Massimo Acito, Marco Burrascano, Luca Catalano, Annalisa Metta, Luca Reale e Caterina Rogai. Co-authors with Osa for this project: Mario Leonori, Lorenzo Senni, Marta Spadaro. Orizzontale is composed of: Jacopo Ammendola, Juan Lopez Cano, Giuseppe Grant, Margherita Manfra, Nasrin Mohiti Asli, Roberto Pantaleoni, Stefano Ragazzo. 2 Students who took part in VAP: Edward Joseph Allgood, Malgorzata Anna Golabek, Selen Gor, Irem Halis, Giulia Marino, Seda Sevilay Onat, Beril Poroy, Kenneth Roposh, Ayse Savas, Alessandra Schmid, Gamze Unlu, Melanie Whedon. 3 Founding Director of Urban Space Management (USM). 4 Among others, just to mention: Karen Franck and



Quentin Stevens, editors, Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life, Routledge, London, 2007; Margaret Crawford, John Chase, Kaliski John, Everyday Urbanism, Monacelli Press, 2008; Territorio, Issue 56/2011, Franco Angeli, Milano; Martí Peran, Post-it city: ciudades ocasionales, Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior (SEACEX) y el Centro de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) – Turner, 2009; Peter Bishop and Lesley Williams, The Temporary City, Routledge, New York, 2012. 5 Some of these reflections recall what I already expressed in previous articles. See: A. Metta and M. L. Olivetti, ‘Design as adaptive and provisional practice,’ in S. Staniscia (editor), R.E.D.S. Rome Ecological Design Symposium, Trento: LISt Lab Laboratorio Internazionale Editoriale, 2013 (MONOGRAPH.IT); A. Metta, ‘In tempo reale. Know how-Do how,’ in A. Lambertini, A. Metta, M. L. Olivetti (editors), Progettare paesaggi quotidiani, Roma: Gangemi Editore, 2014. 6 Ariella Masboungi, edited by, Le paysage en préalable: Michel Desvigne, grand prix de l’urbanisme 2011, Joan Busquets, Prix spécial 2011, Éditions Parenthèses et Direction générale de l’Aménagement, du Logement et de la Nature (DGALN), Paris, 2011. 7 Gilles Clément, Le jardin planétaire: Reconcilier l’homme et la nature, Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 1999. 8 Franco Panzini, Per i piaceri del popolo. L’evoluzione del giardino pubblico in Europa dalle origini al XX secolo, Zanichelli, Bologna, 1993.


1. At the Jessie Cohen neighborhood in Israel (Photographer Ran Biran) 2, 3. Along the A40 Autobahn in Germany (Photographer Ran Biran) 4, 5. Along the Ayalon Highway in Israel (Photographer Ran Biran) 6, 7, 8. At the Jessie Cohen neighborhood in Israel (Photographer Ran Biran) 9. Along the Ayalon Highway in Israel (Photographer Ran Biran) 10, 11. Along the A40 Autobahn in Germany (Photographer Ran Biran)

Braha Kunda (Israel) Architecture and Environmental Design graduate, Senior Lecturer and former Head of Interior Design Department at the Design Faculty of Holon Institute of Technology.

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Toward ‘Urban Acupuncture’ - A work in progress Braha Kunda


he essential ingredients of design for sustainability are a holistic perception, values, integrative and cross disciplinary methodologies, and knowledge. To generate balanced environments and healthier habitable places. To understand the principles of eco-systems, the forces and rules of nature, and reassess the design processes.

human environments reflect a short—sighted approach to town planning adopted by authorities and professionals. Conventional urban planning was born of and reflects the ills of Late Capitalism on our society and habitat. ‘Wounded’ urban spaces reflect the exclusion of local inhabitants from development 75 processes and expose the neglect for health and well-being in our globalized culture.

If designers are to embrace sustainability as a leading paradigm, we need to conceptualize the urban environments and their components as complex systems of organisms, not merely as a compilation of functional mechanical systems. Whether we like it or not, we are still dominated today by the Modernist paradigm of functionalism, brutally controlling human habitats with its ‘Top Down’ hierarchy. The system may be efficient and functional on a macro scale, but it results in social alienation and environmental degradation.

New paradigms and design methodologies may emerge by focusing on the values of sustainability. These ought to address the healing of urban space and extend beyond the application of ‘green technologies’ and innovative environmental solutions. They should first and foremost, reintroduce connections and interactions between people and between the people and their city.

Sick or injured environments generate social, economic, and political instability, significant income gaps, and potential conflicts. Neglected and alienating urban


The process of reconnecting addresses the universal human desire to ‘belong,’ to identify with a community and place, as a social and a psychological need. This biopsychological need to ‘belong’ is a condition of our primordial nature as human beings. It is integral to the way in which we inform and





mediate emotions and knowledge and the material manifestations of our reality. To acknowledge human-beings’ basic need to be connected and belong, an art/design/ research project was initiated by a team of dancers and choreographers (KaiserAntonino), a photographer (Ran Biran), and an architect and environmental designer (Braha Kunda). We collaborated on this special project, conceiving the human body as both a mediator and sensor, through which we related to physical places along the Ayalon Highway passing through Tel Aviv. In recent history, parts of existing


neighborhoods and a stream which flowed through them were demolished to accommodate the construction of the Ayalon Highway, a major national infrastructure project. The construction resulted in amputated streets and disconnected neighborhoods with private yards blocked by acoustic walls breaking any sense of continuity and connection. A particularly offensive example is the main street of the Jessie Cohen neighborhood in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv. The project explores the lost spaces, the fragments and leftover voids along the Ayalon





highway. It tries to expose a socio-geological section of the gaps between rich and poor, the powerful and the weak. It uncovers the wounds caused by detached and functional central planning. Primarily, the project is about the interaction between the body and the urban environment. This is a project in progress. It takes place along the Ayalon Highway in Israel and the A40 Autobahn in Germany. The art project aims to investigate, analyze, and reflect spatial and material conditions along these mega infrastructures. Through the use of various media, the group


researches the dissonance between the body’s primal knowledge and expression, and its relationship to urban spaces which initially disregard human scale and primary needs. Our products at this stage include a unique dance performance, a photography exhibition, and an installation. More details on the project and information on future performances, lectures and exhibitions are posted in our blog The blog is open to feedback regarding the project and the issues it raises.



1. Trajectory of Environmental Responsibility (Courtesy of Design Collaborative and Regenesis 2006) 2. Urban Eco System (2011) A case study for the urban development of the former Bayernoil site (75 ha) in Ingolstadt (Germany) which illustrates the main principles of regenerative architecture (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering) 3. Diagram showing the flows of resources (information, energy, waste, and matter) in a building lifecycle. The typical building typology or ‘apartment cylinder’ is connected to the vertical farming hub with bridges which facilitate small—scale production and commerce. Ecology, economy, and living are brought into one selfsufficient system. Self-sufficiency and localization are emphasized, not only because it strengthens security but also because it disentangles the community from the snares of the global supply chains and keeps wealth within the community (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering) 4. A materialized vision of the urban development based on regenerative architecture principles. The cylindrical form of the buildings is a metaphor for the oil tanks previously located on the site. The project follows the idea ‘from fossil to carbon neutral.’ The community relies on diversity in every respect: energy sources, biodiversity, food diversity, land—use diversity, mixed-used housing, cultural and ethnic diversity (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering) 5. Inner courtyard of the typical ‘living node’ building. The inner circulation is filled with vertical gardens, while the apartments are oriented toward the outer perimeter. The building is lifted from the ground, and the space below is open, freely accessible by the community as a covered space with fresh air. The social aspects of community are fundamental, hence the focus on social metrics such as jobs, wealth-creation, and recreational facilities (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering)

6. Detail view of the master plan for the urban development ‘Urban Eco-System,’ inspired by Ebenezer Howard’s idea of small functional nodes connected to large nodes. Each node maximizes the functional efficiency of the system. Instead of seeing the city organized as a rigid linear grid, this solutions is a polycentric web - a network. The largest branches are connected to ‘recreational nodes.’ Each of the branches has one parking node, and the ‘living nodes’ have a ‘vertical farming’ node. The commercial and working nodes are in the outer ring. The importance of mobility and access in the contemporary urban development reinforces the importance of collective space (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering) 7. A Vertical Farming node supplies up to seven ‘living nodes.’ The community can use the facility to produce food, and thereafter help reduce the financial and environmental costs. This would make the urban development relatively selfsufficient and create additional employment locally (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering) 8. The building typology for Science and Technology is considered as a ‘workplace node’ in the master plan. It incorporates the main design elements such as high performance envelope, multilayered functions, flexible floor plans, and energy and activity flows. The objective is to create a perforated envelope as ‘living skin’ and waterrecycling machine. Regenerative architecture suggests that the function of design is not only to make buildings and cities attractive, but to also make them adaptive, fluid, and capable of accommodating changing demands and unforeseen circumstances (Courtesy of ORTLOS Space Engineering)

Ivan Redi (UK & Austria) Principal of ORTLOS Space Engineering, based in London and Graz, founded in 2000 as a network of interdisciplinary partners.

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A Holistic approach toward regenerative Architecture Ivan Redi with Andrea Redi


eyond the traditional notion of the architect as a designer of forms and functions of buildings, architects need to become designers of eco-systems. These ecological and economic systems are maintained, not only by the flow of people, but also by the flow of resources: information, energy, waste, and materials. The systems also incorporate human consumption patterns into our natural environment. The current discussion about sustainability suggests that modern society is a kind of ballast for the planet and detrimental to the environment. Therefore, we need to provide proactive solutions in search of developments which are not limiting and restrictive to our current lifestyles. Thus, achieve the sustainability and the human-nature equilibrium we all seek. Sustainability is simply not enough. The term ‘Regenerative Urban Design’ describes processes where people intentionally participate in natural systems. People actively evolve with the whole system, thereby creating urban systems that integrate the needs of society with nature. Regenerative design can be understood as the examination of nature, its models, systems, and processes as a source of inspiration and a model to be emulated. Bio—mimicry of ecosystems provide for all human systems to function as a closed, viable, economic system. Regenerative urban structures are holistic frameworks that seek to create intelligent buildings in urban environments through structural efficiency, zero waste, intelligent use of water , well—managed thermal



environments, and solar energy with an aspiration toward biomimetic cities. The goal of regenerative design is to develop efficient systems that allow for the evolution of humans, as well as other species. An Urban Community: Interacting Activities and their Environment The growth of the urban population and the supporting built infrastructure has affected both urban environments and surrounding areas. These include semi- or peri-urban environments on the fringe of cities and agricultural and natural landscapes. Urban environments are affected by their surrounding environment, but also affect that environment. Considering urban areas as part of a broader ecological system, it is interesting to investigate how urban landscapes affect other landscapes with which they interact. ORTLOS’s research on urban ecosystems for the development of the former Bayernoil site in Ingolstadt, Germany, focused on


understanding how cities work as ecological systems. We were interested in how sustainable structures can improve the quality of urban life. The task was to develop the city fringe and reduce the negative effect on the surrounding environments. Further, we sought to design a project which would contribute to the health and economic opportunities of the citizens. The whole system required a complex, diverse design of densely interconnected structures which generated ‘zero waste.’

know-how rather than the physical good) leads to a decrease in resource consumption and waste. This premise points to a different, softer path toward trade liberalization. The main principles of urban ecosystems are the centrality of the natural landscape and the environment’s endowment. Eco-infrastructure is designed to map human infrastructure onto underlying eco-structures, in a way that is complementary and mutually reinforcing.


This inspired the idea of solar ‘income’ as a local resource. The transportation of manufactured goods consumes a large amount of energy, most of which originates from fossil fuels. The transfer of knowledge, on the other hand, relies on the transmission of electrons, requiring an infrastructure of fiber-optics that consumes far less energy than trans-ocean shipping. The premise of the ‘Intelligent Economic Policy’ is that goods and information are, to a certain extent, substitutes. To the extent that knowledge of, say, green technologies (the

Such eco-structures will be guided by the interactions of various closed-loop cycles, such as water, food, energy, materials,


However, suburban towns (or ‘Town-Country’) surrounded by agricultural land are no longer possible and these romantic landscapes must rather be seen as the landscape of active surfaces.


nutrients, information, and money. Urban Network By 2002 48% of people living in the world lived in urban areas. By 2050 it is estimated that more than 75% of the world population will live in cities: big cities and small cities, high-speed and sleepy cities. As new forms and urban landscapes develop, new global and local spatial networks are emerging. The difference between city and countryside will disappear. ‘Multiple City’ proposes that the 21st century will be the ‘century of the cities.’ In Garden Cities of Tomorrow, Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928) offered in 1898 a vision of towns free of slums, enjoying the benefits of both town (such as opportunity, leisure, and high wages) and country (natural beauty, fresh air, and low rents). The towns would be largely independent, managed by the citizens who had an economic interest in them. Howard proposed the creation of suburban towns of limited size surrounded by a permanent belt of agricultural land. His ideas were conceived in the context of a capitalist economic system and sought to balance individual and community needs.

Programming the urban surface invokes the functioning matrix of connective tissue that organizes, not only objects and spaces, but also the dynamic processes that move through them. Urban surfaces are dynamic, responsive, and regenerative through networks. The traditional notion of the city will be largely replaced by a web-like sprawl — the regional metropolis. The infrastructure and flow of material will become more significant than political and spatial boundaries. The emphasis shifts from forms of urban space to process of urbanization, processes that network across vast regions. The urban site consists of ambiguous areas that may be called peripheral sites, middle landscapes that are neither city nor country, all with a remarkable increase in mobility and access.



This refers to the increased instability of capital and investment, and to the abundance of information and media.


We suggest a fundamental shift from viewing cities in formal terms to looking at them as dynamic surfaces. Familiar urban typologies of square, park, and district are less useful than the infrastructure, networks, ambiguous spaces, and other amorphous spaces that constitute the contemporary metropolis. Unlike the hierarchical structure of traditional cities, the contemporary metropolis functions more like a spreading rhizome, dispersed and diffuse, but at the same time infinitely

enabling. Strategically placed surfaces allow for a transformation of ground-plane into living, connective tissue between increasingly disparate fragments and unplanned programs. The function of design is not only to make cities attractive but also to make them more adaptive, more fluid, more capable of accommodating changing demands and unforeseen circumstances. Vertical Farming Indoor farming is a relatively recent phenomenon expanded for cultivation of tomatoes, spinach, and numerous herbs and spices. The techniques, however,


require research and new technical approaches. Vertical farming aims to meet the requirements of the additional 3 billion population forecast to populate our cities. A very large amount of land will be required for urban farming, depending on the yield per hectare. Scientists are concerned that the required farmland will not be available and that severe damage to the earth will be caused by the additional farmland. Vertical farms, if designed properly, may eliminate the need to create additional farmland and help create a cleaner environment.

performance envelope, an intelligent facade, the use of solar energy (photovoltaic), maximum use of natural daylight, natural ventilation, and passive shading. Boundaries will be understood as behavioral. They remain variable and exist only when energy is 85 transitioning form one state to another. Multiple possibilities exist for space use (research lab, demonstration center, living zones, and recreational areas). The different temperature zones will hopefully be a prototype for an architecture that works as a climatically dynamic environment.

Vertical farming would reduce the need for new farmland due to overpopulation, and thus save natural resources, which are currently threatened by deforestation. Vertical farming, used in conjunction with other technologies and socioeconomic practices, could allow cities to expand, while remaining largely self-sufficient for food. This would allow for large urban centers that could grow without destroying considerably larger areas of forest to provide food for their population. Design Parameter The performance of the buildings should be in balance. Materials, aesthetics, form, program, lifecycle, renewable energy, interactivity, sensitivity, and the ability to network with other structures, are parameters which should be considered with equal importance. The primary design focus is on a high



1. Isle Derborence by Gilles Clément (Lille, 1992) (Courtesy of Richard Ingersoll) 2. Time Landscape by Alan Sonfist (New York City, 1978) (Courtesy of Richard Ingersoll) 3. The Lakes of Focognana by Carlo Scoccianti (Florence, 1998-2005) (Courtesy of Richard Ingersoll) 4. Nærum allotments by Carl Theodor Sørensen (Copenhagen, 1948) (Courtesy of Richard Ingersoll) 5, 6. Nomad Garden by Marta Donati & Richard Ingersoll (Montevarchi AR, 2012) (Courtesy of Richard Ingersoll)

Richard Ingersoll (Italy & USA) Born in California, and educated in architectural history at UC Berkeley. Taught at Rice University and currently teaches at Syracuse University in Florence, Italy.

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Eat the City Richard Ingersoll


rban development during the past half century has significantly eaten away the clear edges of cities, leaving lots of ambiguous empty spaces. Such patchy areas contradict the expectations of coherent urban morphology, yet provide the setting for at least half of humanity, and thus should demand more attention as the subject of design. The novelist Philip Lopate, who like me spent several years in academic exile in Houston, described this most sprawlbound of cities ‘like a smiling face with a lot of teeth missing’. European cities tend not to have the same dental mishaps, at least in their historic centers. However, along their peripheries, the fabric of streets and buildings start to fray and begin to look more like suburban Texas and the global condition of sprawl. Here, infrastructure prevails over buildings. Areas that since Neolithic times had been reserved for growing food, are overrun by new construction. Torn by roads and parking lots, the splintered vacant lots are overgrown with weeds. Such spaces, in their identity as leftover terrain, are neither part of a natural ecosystem, nor part of a landscape. They qualify as examples of Gilles Clément’s provocative theory of the ‘Third Landscape.’ While their state of abandon may contradict the aesthetic sensibilities of landscape professionals, and sometimes contribute to an overall feeling of danger, such untended sites represent for Clément an important evolutionary habitat as the ‘refuge of biodiversity.’ Thus, when confronting a gap in the urban fabric, rather than thinking about how to fill it,

or correct it, perhaps one’s first instinct should be to gather an awareness of its potential as a Third Landscape. What species of plants have succeeded in surviving here? What signs of animal life thrive? Does it already have a formal character? Clément’s Manifesto of the Third Landscape, launched in 2004, 89 came as a perverse invitation to indolence, to letting things go, so contrary to the ambitious reshaping of the land connected to the design professions. When I first read it I thought, ‘This may be appropriate for France, which often has too much landscaping. However, in Italy or any other country, this approach might encourage a tolerance for urban decay.’ Clément, as a practitioner, proposes an example of a landscape he designed in Lille, the extraordinary Isle Derborence. This is a manmade butte that juts out seven meters from the flat lawns of the Parc Henri Matisse. Completed in 1992 as part of the urban renewal scheme of Euralille, the island is much more than an inaccessible and untouched bit of land, achieving poetic status as a marvelous conceit. It replicates the desert Island of Antipodes, south of New Zealand, in its extruded, irregular shape, and area of 3,500 square meters. Theoretically, one could cut an axis through the globe from Lille to New Zealand to connect the two islands. After two decades, this ‘unnatural’ island, which underwent some preliminary planting, has fostered a spontaneous mantle of tall trees, producing an autonomous ecosystem. While remaining inviolable by humans, the island has become a superb asylum for birds in the center of the city.



A similar, though much smaller sanctuary in New York City anticipated Clément’s call to inaction. In 1978, the artist Alan Sonfist threw up a cast-iron fence around an empty lot, keeping the site off-bounds in perpetuity. His conceptual art work, the ‘Time Landscape,’ sits amid the dense blocks of Lower Manhattan on a typical developer’s plot, 25 by 40 feet (7.5 x 12m), belonging to New York University. Sonfist seeded the lot with a hierarchy of autochthonous species, ranging from low grasses to saplings and fruit trees to taller oaks and elms, in the effort to recreate the range of plants that covered the island before settlement. While the site in Lille, elevated on its tall base, has acquired a monumental presence in the city, the Time Landscape usually goes unnoticed, like a leftover piece of land that was too small for an entrepreneur’s attention. After 30 years, its effulgent, unmanicured vegetation testifies to the power of nature to reclaim the land and maintain itself. I would like to consider one last example of the art of leaving things alone: a very large piece of the suburban puzzle surrounding

Florence, the Oasis of Focognana. Driving toward the Firenze Nord entry to the Autostrada, you will find a ziggurat-shaped hill, once the city’s dump. Not far from it, the concrete warehouses of some of the Italy’s leading fashion companies, such as Gucci and Roberto Cavalli, spread out as horizontal boxes amid vast parking lots. In the late 1990s, the World Wildlife Foundation, together with Campi Bisenzio, one of Florence’s contingent cities, began to acquire the lands between the hill and the Autostrada. Led by the biologist Carlo Scoccianti, the site was reshaped by bulldozers into a series of small lakes. Currently 63 hectares and growing, the Oasis of Focognana has been planted with reeds, canes, and other native grasses and fenced off, so that humans will not disturb this re-naturalized park. Entry is only permitted if accompanied by trained volunteer guides. The funding for the project came from the river authority, from funds needed to build catchment basins (casse d’espanzione), due to the perennial threat of floods. Additional funding also came from several factories and the Autostrada, which were persuaded to donate because they had disturbed the balance of the local ecology . A wealth of flora and fauna has been attracted to this re-naturalized periurban site, and has resulted in a sort of Galapagos of fascinating, rare species, safe from hunters and urban intrusions. Scoccianti in retrospect has promoted the project as a work of art, involving the creative spontaneity of human decisions left to be developed by nature itself. Each of these three landscapes, while


eventually dedicated to the absence of human maintenance, required complex preparation of the site and selective planting. So, while they may appear as the revival of wilderness, they are actually highly artificial products of design. Such Third Landscapes are thus only a few steps away from the Second Landscape maintained by gardeners and farmers. While such a contradiction does not infringe on any moral presupposition about allowing nature to take its course, and one can truly be swept into the metaphysical quality that accompanies a ‘natural’ sanctuary in the city, I question how many times such a strategy of programmed abandon can be applied to the gaps left by sprawl. I sympathize with Christophe Girot when he writes: ‘A scruffy nature left to grow unattended at the edge of some old brownfield site does not convey the same positive sensual emotion as a vertical garden (i.e., Patrick Blanc’s very unnatural hydroponic planting of walls), despite all its inherent ecological merits.’ For many years I have been advocating an alternative approach to landscape in urban environments that I call Agricivismo, roughly translated as Civic Agriculture. All cities, even the densest

ones like New York (which allegedly has 700 community gardens), have the potential to be reconceptualized as agricultural parks, supplying many different scales and genres of food production. While I have yet to come across examples of agricultural interventions that possess the majesty of 91 the Isle Derborence or the grandeur of the lakes of Focognana, I believe that vegetable patches and productive crops can assume a desirable aesthetic role in urban situations. Aside from this, they inspire a high degree of citizen participation, which makes the city feel safer. Thus, for these same abandoned terrains that might be appreciated as Third Landscapes, I would propose to reclaim them as edible landscapes. The benefits should interest any politician: the recuperation of untended land with few maintenance costs; a heightened sense of security due to the constant presence of citizen-gardeners who have taken responsibility for their places of cultivation, the improved health of the population through the physical activity of gardening and through the consumption of safe, biologically superior local produce. Agriculture was always an active ingredient of preindustrial cities, and continued to serve the industrial city, as the great industrial fabric of Birmingham with its famous allotments, attests. After the Second World War, the pressures of real estate speculation, coupled with the hegemony of petrol-based agriculture, banished food production ever farther from the urban core. In suburban California, where I grew up, I never had the pleasure of witnessing a live chicken or a vine-


grown tomato. While such alienation from the source of food has become typical of globalization, one senses a growing demand for a shift back to farming in the city. This may be partly due to the good intentions of the ecology consciousness movements and partly to economic necessity. The current crisis of capitalism, which began in 2008 and which despite regular reports of optimism, shows no signs of relenting, has been decreasing the value of urban land to the point that one can imagine Serge Latouche’s program for ‘degrowth’ may begin soon. Detroit, which in the late 20th century lost more than half of its population and has become a city of worthless, vacant lots, has welcomed various initiatives for urban farming. Agriculture, in some cases, can increase the value of land. In Pessac, a suburb of Bordeaux made famous among architects by Le Corbusier’s intervention for workers’ housing, the cost of land for the vines of its superb wine, currently runs higher than that for building development. This has helped to contain the sprawl of development. Perhaps specialty crops in other urban contexts will help to keep

land out of the development market. Another important manifestation of reprogramming urban land for agriculture occurred at the Internazionale Bauaustellung (IBA) of 2010, sited in seven cities of the ex-DDR. Since 1989 these cities have had a declining population. The program proposed removing superfluous plattenbauen housing and creating better urban connections through allotment gardens. The IBA planners’ slogan: ‘Progress without growth,’ while seeming contradictory, launched a profound challenge to the design professions to rethink their priorities. Despite the improved connections achieved through new networks of orchards and grazing lands in places like the Paunsdorf Siedlung on the outskirts of Leipzig, the IBA attracted scarce attention: it failed to address an aesthetic agenda that could spur the collective imagination. While urban farming should not be reduced to a question of aesthetics, so often I find little effort on the part of planners and participants to create a meaningful landscape. Having an urban orchard is not the same thing as subsistence farming. Yes, you can grow


food in the city, but such farming within the public realm begs for art. I always return to the finest example ever built, the Naerum allotments in a suburb north of Copenhagen. In 1948 the talented landscape architect Carl Theodor Sorensen (1899-1979) designed 50 allotments, enclosing each 500 square-meter lot within an elliptical hedge of hawthorn and privet. The two-meter interstices separating the ovals remained for public use, while each allotment had its own tool shed and could be organized as the individual tenant desired. Within the hedges, the gardens acquired their own character according to the tastes of each gardener, but the grassy intermediary public areas, conditioned by the uniform, head-high pruning of the hedges, enforced a strong formal unity for the site that resonated with primordial oval constructions in the region. Naerum remains after more than 60 years a stunning public park, maintained by 50 very willing private gardeners. I keep focusing on the scale of the allotment, rather than the larger prospect of agricultural parks, for two reasons: (a) the agricultural park on a regional level, which is desirable for all cities, requires herculean bureaucratic and political organization to negotiate and sustain, and (b) I am more confident about the smaller scale of the unconditional willingness of gardeners to participate. Several Mediterranean cities, including Pamplona, Barcelona, and Milan, initiated an agricultural park on a regional scale, attempting to bring public access and awareness to areas within the metropolitan urban system where traditional agriculture is still practiced.

Pamplona’s is the smallest and the most coherent, linking by bicycle paths a variety of cultural and farming activities, including an ancient pilgrim’s bridge and the bullpens that supply the famous ‘corrida.’ Europe’s first agricultural park resulted from discussions in Milan in the late 1970s within the Polytechnic 93 University. Design professionals analyzed the geographic and hydrological resources of the region, cataloguing the location and scale of farming activities. The Parco Agricolo Sud gained official recognition in 1990 under the aegis of the Province of Milan, involving 63 municipalities (including Milan), 46,000 hectares, and more than 1,400 farms. It is still enigmatic, however, and, excepting the Bosco in Citta, a well-organized public park within, one does not know how to visit the park nor even how to locate it. One also senses that the pressures of real estate remain a constant threat to its survival. Barcelona’s agricultural park derived directly from the experience of Milan and shares similar problems of multiple authorities and no sense of where the park becomes accessible to visitors. Occasionally, one finds a sign in the towns near the Llobregat River referring to the agricultural park, but for the moment the areas within its jurisdiction are not connected or accessible to visitors. The likely places to begin the important links are the water courses, streams, and canals, which legally are protected as fluvial parks. These examples, while they do not weaken my interest in advocating that all cities should declare their edges part of an agricultural park, demonstrate how the process and the


outcome are difficult to manage and resist the input of design. Allotments by contrast have fewer intermediaries: the municipal government, citizens groups, and sometimes private businesses. They can serve individual families, as at Naerum, or can include scholastic institutions, botanical societies, therapeutic activities (mental patients, prisoners, etc.), and ecological testing grounds. In 2010 the small German city of Andernach decided to plant the public lands that surround the castle in the center of town with a variety of vegetables that the citizens were invited to pick and take home. While most of the work is done by municipal gardeners, the townspeople do the harvesting, allowing one, literally, to eat their way through the city. School gardens provide proven benefits to education, but due to the absence of students after the month of June, require commitment or professional assistance to the plants until the fall semester begins. One of the most successful projects involving school children, ‘East New York Farms!’ was organized in 1998 by professors from the Pratt Institute. Set in a decaying suburb of Manhattan, where the mostly African-American youth are destined for gangs, the program took over empty lots, and paid a token stipend to school children aged 12-14 to come work on the gardens for a few hours a week. The transformation of both the raggedy lots and the disadvantaged children was astounding. A few years later, a Farmers Market was established and several of the residents now have careers in urban farming. Germany has the greatest number per capita

of allotment gardens in the world, and in many German cities, in particular Munich and Berlin, the demand far exceeds the supply. Associations have developed, such as Nomadisch Grun in Berlin, which pursue a strategy of mobile gardening. The founders, Marco Clausen and Robert Shaw, initially created Prinzessinnengarten as a temporary garden in 2009 on a derelict site in Kreuzberg near Moritzplatz. They assembled stacks of plastic beer crates, vinyl gunny sacks, and cardboard milk cartons and filled them with topsoil for planting. A group of about 40 volunteers now participates in these mobile landscape transformations, and during the winter months transfer the portable planters inside the local market hall. The project has generated a restaurant using food grown on the site and attracts continuous cultural events. The nomadic tactics of Prinzessinnengarten inspired a spinoff in Berlin, when dozens of people started occupying the abandoned runways of Templehof Airport, creating spontaneous gardens using the techniques of nomadic gardening. Such a desire for


mobile gardening was taken to an even further extreme by the American filmmaker Ian Cheney, who in 2009 filled the back of his pickup truck parked on the streets of Manhattan with soil to create the ‘Farm on Wheels.’ It has inspired a fleet of 25 similar trucks, now known as Truckfarms. Allotments enrich urban sites socially and environmentally and can happen almost anywhere, as Michelle Obama proved in 2009, when she dug up 100 square meters of the White House lawn to prepare the ‘First Garden’ and advocated a healthier diet for the youth of America. In May 2012, with my colleague Marta Donati, an agronomist who works on therapy gardens with ex-drug addicts, I prepared a Nomad Garden in a medieval cloister in Montevarchi (provincia di Arezzo), as part of an arts program devoted to greening the city. Because it was a historic site that we could not alter, we conceived of the garden as a prototype made of completely portable elements that would be accessible to children and people with disabilities. To give it a formal structure we prepared a pergola of bamboo using a 9-square grid. Eight chambers for different types of horticultural experiences surround a central void. We positioned many of the plants at a height of one meter, so that they can be observed or touched by people in wheelchairs. One entered on a path through cut broom. In the second room rose a column of laurel leaves, symbolic of the residue of nature gathered and allowed to decompose. The third room displayed crates (an idea borrowed from Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin) with growing seedlings that were in season

(potatoes, grain, beets, broad beans). The fourth room housed an exotic ficus set in a pyramid of bamboo poles. The fifth was lined with gunny sacks stuffed with soil and planted with aromatic plants (a practice copied from the ghetto of Mathare in Nairobi). The plants include mint, basil, sage, rosemary, wild fennel, 95 and marjoram. The sixth room had a bench for resting and a hibachi grill. The seventh room offered a spiral of cabbage seedlings watered by an upturned demijohn and a slow-drip hose, loosely inspired by Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. The final room set up a bed covered with carnations, literally a flower bed. The Nomad Garden cost 67€, took four volunteers six hours to build, and thrived in the cloister for three weeks, without causing damage to the place. Allotments can be made almost anywhere, and they do not need to be permanent. The display of growing plants, made accessible to all and cared for by conscientious gardeners, offers a vision of hope for the city. Rather than a city consumed by sterile development, one could live in a city with a continuous fabric of growing edibles.



1, 2, 3, 4. Antiparos Symbiosis (Courtesy of Doxiadis+) 5, 6, 7, 8. Varkiza Didactic Beach (Courtesy of Doxiadis+) 9, 10, 11. Junk to Park (Courtesy of Doxiadis+)

Thomas Doxiadis (Greece) Architect and Landscape Architect, ASLA. Graduated in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from Harvard University. Founder of Doxiadis+.

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Symbiotic Design and Didactic Landscapes Thomas Doxiadis


ur heads in the clouds, our feet planted firmly on the ground, and our hearts in between to connect them. This is how we think of ourselves and this is how we approach design. Ecology is not a fashion or a marketing tool. It’s quite clear to us that humanity and nature are not separate systems in competition for survival. Either humans will learn to manage nature and coexist with it, or we will bring ourselves to a precipice of destruction. We are aware though that today, untouched nature is almost nonexistent. The natural systems we work with are influenced, and in many cases created by humans, and must be managed as such. We believe in ecology and see the Earth as humanity’s only home. A home that must be treated with great care and respect. Within the context of this book it is perhaps taken for granted, but in our everyday practice we find

that a preindustrial mentality is still prevalent: people cannot believe that the terra firma on which they have grown up is, in fact, so fragile. Most don’t realize, or refuse to acknowledge, the collective and cumulative effect of each individual’s action. So we have to fight and 99 to educate. Head in the clouds, feet on the ground, and the design process to connect them. We have clear and strong beliefs about the need for continuous pull toward a balanced future. With our head in the clouds we look forward. Yet we approach each project with our feet. We treat physical reality as sacred. The tectonic forces that shape the land, the soil with its gritty grains, the minerals and myriad micro-organisms, the plants that manage to sprout and grow, the water and its cycles, the wind and all the other forces. And human interaction, which in our land – Greece


- has shaped the landscape for more than 7,000 years – all need to be understood and respected. Design is the process where feet and head come together. Sensitivity and knowledge allow us to read a site — to understand the existing and historic forms and processes. Each project provides new challenges. We usually have to work with great economy, so common sense leads us to elemental solutions. The design process is a bottom-up formulation of a symbiotic future, guided by our principles.




Antiparos Symbiosis is a pristine site, the result of millennia of cultivation and a few decades of abandonment. It was about to change economic activity — from agriculture and pasture to tourism, transformation that is usually destructive. Usually, tourist development not only degrades a site’s ecology, but tends to degrade the very beauty that is being sold to attract the tourists in the first place. Yet this economy is a new reality, so we need to address the challenge. A methodical examination of the natural and historic landscape revealed a natural amphitheater, seasonal streams, large juniper trees, seasonal frigana vegetation, pezoules (agricultural terraces), and xerolithies (dry-built stone walls). The strategy was to establish a symbiosis between the existing elements and the new ones. The pezoules system needed to be rebuilt and extended. It was used as a skeleton on which all the new elements were structured. Similarly, we planted dense Mediterranean vegetation close to the

houses, and progressively dispersed the planting out toward the landscape in order to allow the indigenous plants to reestablish themselves and create a seamless transition between maintained and natural areas. The developer was persuaded that this strategy would be much more economical than the usual constructed and heavily maintained and irrigated landscape. The result has been the creation of a new paradigm which has changed the mentality of developers toward the landscape in Antiparos and progressively in Greece. In the Varkiza Didactic Beach, the existing conditions formed the foundation of our intervention through the cultivation and growth of what was already there, a softscape to support the rich public program. Located just south of Athens, Varkiza is one of the capital’s main beaches, accommodating hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. While large and scenic, it has been damaged over many years, partly due to the lack of maintenance and partly by people driving cars and walking randomly over the landscape. Rather than proposing new elements for the site, the design upgrades the

101 5




existing elements after identifying five zones: infrastructure, forest and bathing beach, natural stream, ecological demonstration park, and wilderness. 102

To maximize the impact of limited resources and demonstrate ecological principles, it was necessary to develop intelligent techniques. If damage by cars and pedestrians impedes the natural regeneration, a simple fence could limit this damage. Different fencing densities allow different degrees of use, and therefore the degree of disturbance. This in turn leads to the development of different plant communities, through natural regeneration and habitat succession. In this way, the park becomes a lesson in what to do (or not to do), so that nature can resurrect itself. We used earthworks and vegetation to organize uses and to collect rainwater for irrigation. Dense planting of the parking lot helped make it bioclimatic — sunny in winter, shady in the summer. The stream bed is cleaned up and configured to recreate a seaside wetland. With the use of xerophytic plants we could ensure that the park will need no irrigation by year five. The beachfront canteens are located in bioclimatic pockets on the forest fringe we created. In addition, all the beach facilities now use renewable energy. The design demonstrates that landscape ecology and environmental design can create a beautiful park at a very low cost. More importantly, it addresses our responsibility to change people’s thinking toward a sustainable future.

Finally, Junk to Park was a degraded urban site which was turned into a park through recycling and community involvement. Dimosio Sima forms part of the walk that connects the three main archaeological sites of classical Athens: the Acropolis, the Kerameikos Cemetery and Plato’s Academy. It is one of Athens’ most important archeological sites. Waiting the day when excavations will begin, the site had for a long time been abandoned and full of decrepit buildings and waste, wounding an already depressed neighborhood. Local inhabitants and volunteers joined forces to change this space into a temporary park. Our office volunteered professional services for the design and construction supervision of the park and joined the volunteers in the construction phase. The design reduces, reuses, and recycles. The demolition materials are used to create the new park in a design that maintains elements from the preexisting buildings. The exterior walls of the demolished buildings are used as retaining walls at the perimeter of the site, whereas the interior walls are used to create




the benches. Combining red earth with white lime gravel and Mediterranean vegetation, we created a symbolic distillation of the Attic landscape. More than half of the demolished material was reused for constructing the landscape. The real challenge of the project was to create with very limited means (money, materials, and time) a revitalized urban space that has archaeological connotations. Through the use of volunteers, recycled materials and sensitive design, the park was created in six days for a mere â‚Ź3,000. It was immediately adopted by the neighborhood, and is today the most active and most popular public space of that part of Athens.

Our true hope is to stand firmly on the ground, and use our work to inspire others to join us in the clouds.



1. Educational Agricultural Farms in Tel Aviv area (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe) 2. Usishkin School, Ramat Hasharon. Fourth grade students designed an outdoor classroom made of recycled materials, including a cob owl, benches made of recycled industrial sludge (by Greenrock Co.), mosaics made by the children from recycled waste (Caesar Rock Co.), surrounded by herb gardens (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe) 3. Hadar School, Ramat Hasharon. Adjacent to the school a sustainable garden with two camel cob benches and with low-water vegetation were created. The project was aided by volunteers from a nearby elderly club, who painted pictures from children’s books on recycled benches in the garden (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe) 4. Alon High School, Ramat Hasharon. A project designed and built by 10th grade students as part of their ‘personal obligation program’ of time for the community. It consisted of redesigning the backyard into a sustainable landscape which included an edible garden, with elements made from recycled materials and industrial waste (Greenrock Co.), planting local trees in the paved areas, rebuilding an outdoor classroom with mosaics made by the students

from recycled materials, an ecological pool made from a reused bathtub, with irrigation provided by air-conditioning devices (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe)

5. Hamanchil School, Ramat Gan. A project executed by fourth graders, focusing on the design of a science and communication garden, surrounded by a garden of edible herbs and trees. The students planned and built the garden, using an underground communication net connecting various recycled pipes, a bench made by recycling mosaic material, as well as sitting areas made of reused wood and bamboo (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe) 6. Educational Agricultural Farms in Tel Aviv area (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe) 7. Kindergarten Playgrounds in Ramat Gan area (Courtesy of Galia Hanoch-Roe)

Galia Hanoch-Roe (Israel) Landscape Achitecture graduate of Rutgers University, and Musical Arts graduate of Yale and CUNY, is the Director of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Metropolitan Area Chapter of Society for Protection of Nature in Israel.

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Sustainable Design of Educational Landscapes Galia Hanoch-Roe


he following article represents a large body of recent work focusing on the design of sustainable educational landscapes, including in over 70 different educational institutions in Israel. This work presents a tremendous challenge for a landscape architect, as it involves integrating a broad field of interdisciplinary skills which are not normally required in the design process. The projects required developing new methods for assimilating education and community work and design. Background In recent years, the Ministries of Education and Environmental Protection in Israel have initiated diverse programs to promote sustainability in the educational system. These programs involve children of all ages — pre-K through high school. As part of these programs, a need arose to rethink the design of the schoolyard as a space which can offer an alternative to the standard paved outdoor play areas. Further, the planning and building techniques needed to involve the community for which they are built in a design-build process. The design of these spaces became part of a more extensive educational process for both teachers and students and part of the school curriculum, and thereby set an example for the incorporation of sustainability at all levels. As a landscape architect, my work involved three fields. In the first, the schoolyards were redesigned by the students in a number of workshops focusing on sustainable design. In the second, the kindergarten teachers went

through a training course on sustainability and developed a five—year plan for redesigning their outdoor spaces involving the children. In the third, we involved educational agricultural farms, with additional experience in constructing sustainable landscapes to teach 107 building techniques through participation. All of these projects required community participation during the planning and construction phases, and required knowledge of sustainable design-build skills, which were new to me. Before working on these projects, I had experience in large projects in a conventional landscape and urban design office working mostly with other professionals. I had no experience in working with community participation. In search of advice on community participation and sustainable design practices, I attended various continuing education courses. Courses, such as natural building in Tlaxo, Mexico, on permaculture, on bio-intensive and traditional agriculture in Israel and Jordan, and on training in community processes, helped me acquire the needed tools. I established a design-build firm named ‘Spirala, Green design,’ with my partner Ofra Bernstein. Ofra is a ceramic artist and permaculture designer. The firm specializes in sustainable design and community participation. We developed a model which helped us integrate the specific local needs of each community into the design, while maintaining the principles of sustainable design and advancing an educational agenda.



Valuable input from the community both fertilizes the design process and educates the community. Following are examples of three main fields of work. School Yards The projects were primarily commissioned by schools, as part of a ‘Green School Initiative’ led by the Ministries of Education

and Environmental Protection. The schools hired Spirala-Green Design, the firm I run with artist Ofra Bernstein, to lead participatory workshops with the students, who were active in the planning and building processes. The aim was to transform part of the school grounds into a sustainable landscape, while focusing on various educational processes of sustainability. Each school had its own agenda. Here are some examples:

One community envisioned a space that teaches about the importance of trees for mankind. The landscape was built as an orchard of live and sculpted trees made from recycled materials. Another school planned a herb garden and a seating area to complement the recycling area in the schoolyard. The benches were made by a company that recycles industrial sludge into furniture (called ‘Greenrock’) and included a large owl chair made of cob.

A third school wanted an outdoor play area focusing on communication. They used recycled underground pipes as communication channels, surrounded by an edible garden and mosaic benches made of recycled materials. Each project was built by volunteers from the nearby elderly club, youth from the local community center, and neighborhood committee volunteers. At each school we worked with a group of children in a series




of workshops, where they learned about sustainable design. In these workshops, the children did research regarding the landscapes to be designed and suggested plans with sustainable features. They focused on the selection of plants and vegetation, water treatment, materials, recycling, and education. The kids drew simple plans and built models with recycled materials which were displayed in each school for peerreview and comment. Then, building plans were prepared, integrating these ideas, which could be built within the financial limitations. Finally, the designed projects were built with the help of the local communities.

Kindergarten Playgrounds The Environmental Education Department of Ramat Gan Municipality initiated a project to transform the playgrounds of 24 kindergartens certified as ‘green kindergartens’ into sustainable playgrounds. They hired Spirala Green Design to develop a five—year plan to redesign these spaces into sustainable landscapes. The project evolved further by the Joint Program for Sustainability Education, led by the Ministries of Education and Environmental Protection.




We were hired by the Society for Protection of Nature (SPNI) to work with 18 kindergarten teachers from Givataim, a town adjacent to Tel Aviv. We coordinated a 30-hour course on sustainability and worked with each teacher individually for 10 hours, to develop an annual sustainability plan involving all aspects of operation, design, and maintenance of the playgrounds. These new landscapes included a variety of sustainable features, all built by the teachers and their students, including ecological pools, winter puddles, vegetable gardens, edible gardens, spiral beds, wildflower gardens, sculptures and benches of recycled materials, compost bins, bird feeders and

nests, and more. They were all built as part of a wider educational agenda throughout the academic year, drawing attention to the seasons. The projects created greener spaces with a wide variety of animal life and an array of experiential spaces for children to explore daily. Educational Agricultural Farms These agricultural farms are spread throughout the country and provide spaces for outdoor learning, within a rich natural environment, and with an emphasis on small —scale agriculture. They offer a place to learn for tens of thousands of students of various age groups, including individuals with special needs. The farms have proven to be very



popular within both the Jewish and Arab communities. The Joint Program for Sustainability in Education, led by the Ministries of Education and Environmental Protection, aimed to transform these farms into information centers about sustainability and community. Within this framework I was hired by the Society for Protection of Nature (SPNI) to work with 11 educational agriculture farms in the districts of wider Tel Aviv area in the center of Israel. This work will be extended to additional farms throughout the country. I coordinated a 30—hour course for school principals and teachers on various aspects of sustainability. I worked with each farm to design sustainable areas within their

grounds, to be built by students of all ages and backgrounds, including children with special needs. Each team of teachers, within a farm, designed their own space and program. These included ecological pools, hydroponic systems, compost bins (to process the large volume of organic waste of the farms), sustainable agriculture (raised, bio-intensive and spiral beds), butterfly gardens, wild flower gardens , green walls and green roofs, urban agriculture, swales and water retention systems, and cob construction. Working in the field of sustainable design for educational institutions has required that I refocus the design process into an educational one, teaching the ‘clients’ about sustainability in general and about sustainable construction and maintenance in particular. I had to modify

the scale of my work, to work with diverse groups of people, and to encourage them to generate their own ideas. The materials used are mostly recycled and environmentally friendly. The work requires creativity and improvisation, because we did not know in advance which materials would be available. An important component of this work has been the basic building skills required to implement the designs with the communities. The desire to involve the community in the construction requires teaching these skills in

the first place. I get great pleasure and satisfaction from my work. The projects are experiential, and there is a sense that they lead to real change for tens of thousands of children and adults throughout the country. For many, the 113 projects are their first experience with the joy of shaping their environment. As people acquire new skills and knowledge, they change their habits and they are empowered.



1. The Acquario at the opening of ECOWEEK 2012 in Rome (Image ECOWEEK)

Maria Luisa Palumbo (Italy) Architect and Senior Fellow of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology of Toronto University, author of New Wombs, Electronic Bodies and Architectural Disorder (Birkhauser, 2000) and Architettura Produttiva.

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Toward an Urban Ecosystem: The Productive Footprint Design Method Maria Luisa Palumbo


rchitecture, buildings, and cities are often thought of and designed in terms of square meters, volumes, boundaries, envelopes or land use, Conceiving buildings this way has caused enormous damage to the planet. The Earth’s vital signs, such as temperature (the first symptom of illness), the quality of our air, water, soil, and ecological biodiversity, are telling us about a state of growing crisis on the planet. Research, such as the Stern Report, confirms that nearly 80% of carbon emissions originate in urban areas. Furthermore, cities are now reaching average temperatures of 4 - 5 degrees more than the surrounding rural areas due to the ‘heat island’ effect. We live on a sick planet, and cities are a prime contributor to this condition. Cities have an insatiable appetite for goods and energy. Air conditioning is becoming a basic necessity, given the rising temperatures and polluted outdoor air. The demand for electric power is satisfied by carbon-emitting burning of fossil fuels, or results in nuclear waste. The demand for food is satisfied by shipping tons of produce from one side of the planet to the other. The transportation, packaging, storing, and waste disposal of food in cities account for up to the 40% of the ecological footprint of a city. We are already witnessing social and political conflicts in the constant drive to gain control of scarce resources, and more ominously, basic resources such as water, vegetation, and arable land. It may be true that we still don’t have clear

solutions, but it is also clear that it is our responsibility to look for them. The idea of an architecture independent of the systems of food and energy production has not worked. Food and energy are primary needs for human shelter, whether collective or individual living. The industrial age addressed these needs 117 by dividing and separating them as much as possible, in a ‘functional zoning,’ even more radical than the one applied to the urban functions by the Athens Charter — residential, commercial, recreation, and transportation. Our challenge today is to reconnect these needs, through a systemic strategy, based on ‘system thinking.’ What does ‘system thinking’ mean in urban design? It means that beside the specific and occasional requests of each program, every project should start from a more general and invariable program — a ‘super program.’ This ‘super program’ is the search for a form capable of correlating vegetation (food, biodiversity, and water management), shelter (buildings, public and private spaces) and energy (sun, wind, geothermal, and biomass). We need to think of all design projects as a set of relationships dealing with the primary needs of life. Not in a metaphoric sense, but as objective and measurable criteria. We can quantify how much solar radiation a building (or an urban area) is capturing and transforming into usable energy. We know how much energy a building needs. We can calculate how many trees and the species of vegetation the building is supporting, and how much productive land and water regeneration have been created together

with the building development. We can also quantify how all this relates to the local production of food.


However, to design relationships instead of boundaries requires a radical paradigm shift in the way we design buildings and manage our lives. We need to change our idea of architecture as a solid and inanimate artifact. We need to think of buildings as evolving and productive landscapes, made of built, as well as permeable, cultivated, and sensitive surfaces. From this perspective, a hybrid and flexible reality may address these contradictions: a weak and diffused urbanism, a fabric of country-city and landscape-buildings. This could be an architecture where the hard impermeable concrete or asphalt are in continuity with soft and permeable green surfaces, which are supported by advanced technologies able to capture and convert the diffused environmental energy. This is an urbanism of living-growing-breeding buildings, every one of which is also a farm for vegetables, a producer of electricity and a water treatment plant. Each building should recycle its own heat and water for services and irrigation. The continuity between construction and vegetation requires that the buildings contribute to improving the environment. Not merely ceasing to destroy it. This is a call for a system capable of sustaining and improving life in general, and human life in particular.

Improving life means more public green spaces, more playgrounds and relational spaces, more tastes, colors, and smells, and more connections with the elements and natural cycles, with all of the social and health benefits this implies. A simple wall covered with climbing jasmine is a wall able to breathe. The plants bloom, they clean and perfume the air, host butterflies, bees, and ladybirds and create habitat for very small and important creatures in the cycle of life. The model for this weak urbanism is not a utopian ideal, but really the only viable example we know of a system able to produce sustainable well-being. Nature, as a biological system, is able to transform matter and energy without producing any waste. Learning how to design according to nature, should be our ethical, ideological, and pragmatic goal for the new millennium. Relational design calls for new competences, as well as new methodologies. We need knowledge to integrate environmental principles, psychology, and biology (the science of life, which has to be sustained). From the basic concepts of ecology and ecosystems, to sophisticated mathematical models of thermal fluid-dynamics, we need the tools to design our buildings with the logic of a renewable energy plant and a system for the sustainable management of water. Design has to be at the core of this integration process. Designers need to bring together

not only the skill, but the ability to measure and evaluate their ideas, their principles, and choices. For several years, I have been teaching in the Masters program promoted by InArch (Italian National Institute of Architecture) ‘Designers of Sustainable Architectures.’ Together with my colleagues, I have witnessed the difficulties young architects experience in changing their approach to architecture to a discipline involving the flow of matter and energy. Because architects are used to working with lines and surfaces, we started talking about the definition of a ‘productive footprint.’ The aim is not to totally balance the ‘ecological footprint,’ but to use this conceptual tool as a design tool that will produce a ‘productive footprint.’ A carefully designed and calculated ‘productive footprint’ can be made of natural and technological surfaces, and with in situ renewable resources, to sustain life in each specific context. The correlation among shelter, energy, water, vegetation, and food, then becomes a simple programmatic layer added to every standard design program for a single family house, an office building, a school, a new neighbourhood, or a city. Beyond the didactic objective, the idea of a ‘productive footprint’ is an attempt to establish common ground between scientists and architects. It has to be understood as a planning tool, which takes ‘productive’ needs and data as inputs for designing buildings and cities. The design process involves thinking from the very beginning about the flow of energy and matter and to look

for tangible productive surfaces. When we consider the flow of energy and matter as issues of non-renewable resources, we can immediately generate questions about the ‘food footprint’ of an office building or of the ‘transportation footprint’ of a school, etc. These are exactly the kind of questions which 119 can help us understanding and address the problem. Moreover, this approach makes it clear that the more we reduce our need for energy, food, and water through more efficient spaces, appliances, and behaviors, the better. Finally, because the sustainability of our built environment should become the major concern for all, not just architects and scientists, the idea of a ‘productive footprint’ could become a readily available tool to measure the environmental impact and metabolic balance of a building or an urban area. We can calculate the ‘productive footprint’ of a specific project or built area, based on the relation between consumption and its regeneration capacity. The footprint could be negative, (if consumption is greater than regeneration), balanced, or positive, (if the regeneration capacity is larger than consumption). The ecological footprint has been a powerful tool to communicate a negative trend. The design processes now need a reverse indicator, to suggest that a positive trend is possible.


1. ECOpuncture project in downtown Milan by workshop W10 at ECOWEEK 2011 in Milan (Courtesy of ECOWEEK 2011 Team W10) 2, 3. Work model of pedestrian and bicycle traffic crossing over Tuborgvej at Bispeparken, Copenhagen, by workshop group 1.4 at ECOWEEK 2013 in Copenhagen (Courtesy of ECOWEEK 2013 Group 1.4) 4. ECOpuncture project diagram by workshop W10 at ECOWEEK 2011 in Milan (Courtesy of ECOWEEK 2011 Team W10) 5. The workshop group 1.4 at ECOWEEK 2013 in Copenhagen (Courtesy of ECOWEEK 2013 Group 1.4) 6. Preliminary model of ECOpuncture project by workshop W10 at ECOWEEK 2011 in Milan (Courtesy of ECOWEEK 2011 Team W10) 7. Studying sun and shading for the pedestrian and bicycle traffic crossing over Tuborgvej at Bispeparken, Copenhagen, by workshop group 1.4 at ECOWEEK 2013 in Copenhagen (Courtesy of ECOWEEK 2013 Group 1.4)

Jan Johansson (Denmark) Architect graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He then had his own office. Teaches at KEA - Copenhagen School for Design and Technology, and Copenhagen School of Architecture.

Jan Johansson 121



Designing Sustainable Quality in Architecture for the Users Jan Johansson ‘The users are just as important as technology’ Bennets, R. and Bordass, W. (2007)


uildings should express architectural quality. Architecture with a sustainable approach must, therefore, not only celebrate sustainable technologies, but also architectural beauty, utility, and durability as well. In my opinion, sustainability requires all four. We need to incorporate a social, economic, and environmental dimension into each project. We must challenge ourselves and question the traditional methods of the construction industry, which requires the cooperation of politicians, building owners, and architects. Since the beginning of the 1990s, Denmark has put sustainability high on the political agenda. There was the political will to develop our buildings and the built environment as a model of sustainablity (DirckinckHolmfeld, 1994). Many of our colleagues have experimented with the design of urban spaces without losing sight of the other criteria for sustainable architecture. We have many exciting projects in Denmark we can

be proud of. As a matter of fact, not only in Denmark. Sustainable thinking is widespread in the other Nordic countries as well. This is a work in progress – a journey - with solutions aiming to lead toward a sustainable society. I believe there is a genuine interest and will 123 among the decision-makers, developers, consultants, and contractors to cooperate toward sustainable solutions. The public authorities and public housing organizations have typically set the standard and at least, for the time being, the private sector has followed their lead. We, as architects in a post-modern era, have the advantage of reviewing in retrospect, the historic interaction among landscape, climate, and architecture. An interaction which has sought – successfully or not – to create a living symbiosis between man and the planet. For example, how do we choose materials, when we have a wide range of choices at our disposal? I believe that the choice for each project should be guided by the context. This might require some research, decoding



of the location, previous or traditional use of materials difficulties of transportation, and maintenance. These are the foundation of a sustainable response to the choice of materials. Local materials, less transportation, the use of local labor, investment in the local economy, and education of the local craftsmen, are some of the positive effects a building can have toward sustainability, through the choice of materials. It is interesting to me to use building materials with long lifespans. It doesn’t make sense to use building materials with different lifespans, unless it is possible to disassemble and replace the materials during the lifetime of the building. In a context of resource scarcity, recycled materials may contribute significantly to sustainability. The choice of materials must also be guided by the local climate and human comfort, and it is crucial to respect the landscape. Modern Architecture has much to learn from traditional architecture, which was more responsive to the local climate and site conditions, particularly with regard to the challenges posed by the elements and site conditions. Computers can not only assist in the analysis of climate, topography, temperature, moisture, rainfall, wind, and ventilation, but of light and shadow as well (Albjerg et al. 2008). Computer technology can assist in the design phase to optimize the building geometry, position, and orientation. This has to go hand-in-hand with the selection of building materials. I was pleased, to be invited as a workshop leader to ECOWEEK in Milan, Jerusalem,

Rome, and Copenhagen. It has given me the opportunity to meet and work with many talented students and colleagues from abroad. It is important to interact with experts and build professional networks, and this is what ECOWEEK is about. Through interaction we develop new ideas. It is in the relationship that the world is created (Gergen and Gergen, 2005). I teach at KEA - Copenhagen School of Design and Technology and at the Copenhagen School of Architecture. At the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, we are in the process of a transformation. We are modifying our program in such a way that sustainability will be at the center of our curriculum. The school has also established collaborations with the business community and the public authorities in Denmark to resolve different sustainability issues. For example, ECOWEEK CPH – the ECOWEEK held at KEA in Copenhagen in May 2013, was organized in close cooperation with the Copenhagen Municipality, which helped run 30 workshops in the northwest district of Copenhagen. The workshop projects were coordinated with the involvement of the local committee and the local community. Upon completion of the workshop design projects, the Municipality was presented with 26 proposals for sustainable interventions in the northwest district of Copenhagen. Eventually, the Municipality chose 17 of these projects to be implemented. As a teacher, I focus on educational training and problem-based learning (Dibbern,

Andersen and Larsen, 2006). This means that students themselves have to be actively involved in the process of creating ideas for sustainable solutions. Initially, students may get frustrated, because they lack the answers to these problems. But frustration has to be turned into something positive. Frustration means that the students are dealing with a difficult issue. They develop a critical attitude to the problem and feel responsible for the solutions they propose. Ownership motivates. Motivation is an important driving force in learning. Then interaction comes in the learning process (Illeris, 2006). My experience has been that students are interested in sustainability and want to take responsibility for sound solutions. For me as an architect and teacher, it is important that sustainability is not just the focus of a particular semester, but a guiding principle and a commitment from day one. I believe that as architects, we must also engage in the question of how the end -users perceive sustainable Architecture and the related technologies. In the debate on passive or active technologies, we might think that more passive technologies lead to more sustainable architecture. I believe that the issue is more complex. It very much depends on the end-users’ understanding of the passive solutions. It also depends on the users’ access to knowledge and information, and their behavioral and consumption patterns. I truly believe, that we are lacking new knowledge in this area, and this is the reason I have chosen this subject to be the focus of my PhD research and dissertation.





The idea behind this multiple case study is to investigate the relationship among man, sustainability, and architecture. The focus is on user behavior and sustainable housing. The relationship among architecture, sustainability, and the end-user is a triangle. Subsequently the project investigates their interrelations and interactions. How does the user relate to architecture and sustainability? How is the users’ everyday life related to architecture? And finally, how does the user validate sustainability? The PhD research is conducted in cooperation with different social housing associations in Denmark. The cases are selected based on maximum diversity. I have chosen to investigate new and renovated buildings, so that users can be interviewed before and after the sustainable renovation.

Further, cases were chosen with maximum user involvement in political decisionmaking, the design process, and operation phases. Documents, such as building permits, residents´ background information, operation and maintenance manuals, will be analyzed. The qualitative methods will include individual and group interviews with administrators, facility managers, caretakers, and end-users. The stories and conveyed narrative should describe specific and general experiences, which I hope will offer a broader understanding of users’ ambitions, challenges, and competence regarding managing sustainable settlements. I hope this knowledge will help inform architects in the design of sustainable housing projects in the future, and will benefit the users and managers of Social Housing Associations in Denmark.






References Albjerg, Nanna, Kunstakademiet, Arkitektskolen, Institut for Teknologi, Kunstakademiet, og Arkitektskolen. 2008. Klima og arkitektur. [Kbh.]: Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole:

distribution: Arkitektens Forlag. Bennets R. og Bordass W. 2007. «Keep It Simple And Do It Well». Sustainability Supplement to Building Magazine, 28 September 2007, Digging Beneath the Greenwash. Dibbern Andersen, Ole, og Verner Larsen. 2006. Problembaseret læring: nye måder at undervise på - bedre måder at lære på. Odense: Erhvervsskolernes Forlag. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Kim. 1994. Økologisk byggeri i Danmark = Danish ecological building. [Denmark]: Arkitektens forlag. Gergen, Kenneth J, og Mary M. Gergen. 2005. Social konstruktion: ind i samtalen. Dansk Psykologisk Forlag; Illeris, Knud. 2006. Læring. Frederiksberg: Roskilde Universitetsforlag. Johansson, Jan. 2013. Sustainable Housing - The User Focus. Housing and Urban Sustainability: Towards Horizon 2020. University Rovira i Virgili, Campus Catalunya, Tarragona, Spain.


1. Glocal integrations: tentative interrelations and cycles forming eco-systems and eco-challenges (Courtesy of Gil Peled) 2. Retrofit scenarios: additions, transformations and conversions of low-rise high-density residential buildings (Courtesy of Gil Peled) 3. Waterproofing and insulating work on an existing building in Jerusalem (Courtesy of Gil Peled) 4. Retrofit implementations at building and neighborhood scale (Courtesy of Gil Peled)

Gil Peled (Israel) Founder of Eco-Challenges Sustainable Design & Consultancy. Has pioneered sustainable retrofits of existing residential buildings in Israel.

Gil Peled 129



Green Retrofit: A Challenge at Global and Local Levels Gil Peled Sustainable Development: A Shift Toward “Glocal� Integration


he Rio+20 Summit revealed the limitations of national governments in implementation of sustainable development (SD) and the reduction of CO2 emissions. It also affirmed that tackling these issues may be most effective at city and local levels. Because already half of the world’s population live in cities, which generate most of the global waste, pollution, and emissions, this shift to glocal integration makes sense.The Summit also generated a global network of stakeholders, including local authorities, academia, NGOs, businesses, and media. This network enables all to participate in the ongoing efforts to achieve broad SD goals.

In Israel, it is becoming clear that SD can be achieved most effectively at a municipal level. Over the last decade, several successful grassroots initiatives led by individuals, communities, and NGOs have shown that existing neighborhoods and communities can effectively implement SD. These initiatives 131 include community gardens, composting, urban farming, bicycle routes, restoration of urban nature, and green retrofitting of existing buildings. Several municipalities have embraced these initiatives in their environmental policies. New Ideas, Existing Buildings, and Neighborhoods Approximately one billion buildings exist worldwide. This vast global infrastructure is among the most significant consumers of energy and environmental polluters,




pushing ecologies of all scales to their limits. As the majority of buildings which will be used in the next 30 to 50 years already exist, improvements made to the existing stock will significantly reduce environmental impact. Retrofitting may create economic savings and social inclusion. In many countries, renovation and refurbishment have become major economic drivers, exceeding the volume and value of new construction. Furthermore, retrofit supports local industries, allowing for innovative and adaptive reuse, transformation, and conversion. However, managing the existing building stock remains a challenging and complex endeavor, as it requires integration and inclusion of several public and private stakeholders. This complexity increases when entire neighborhoods, with unusual physical and social characteristics, are involved. These challenges create opportunities to renew urban infrastructure, and improve public health and environment, as well as building aesthetics on a large scale. Several tools have been developed for planning and managing sustainable and affordable retrofits at building and neighborhood levels. The Retrofit Israel Campaign is an initiative to promote these tools.

The Retrofit Israel Campaign: A Work in Progress The Retrofit Israel Campaign was initiated by the author in 2002. The first step began with creating the Jerusalem Eco-Housing Pilot Project, a project which pioneered green retrofits of existing multi-residential buildings in Israel. The Pilot Project focused on the sustainable and affordable improvement of a typical multi-story residential building, with the tenants as active participants in the process. A methodology has been developed to address acute issues, incorporating those outlined in the principles of BREEAM, One Planet Living, and Local Agenda 21. These include energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, promotion of alternative means of transportation, the use of sustainable materials, and the health and safety of residents. The program enabled reduction of waste and emissions up to 80%, while enhancing the health and well-being of the residents. Consequently, the property value increased significantly. The second phase, based on the experience gained from the Pilot Project, included procedures and specifications to improve the environmental management of the existing housing stock. It became clear that a widespread reduction of environmental

finally, new standards are being adopted specific to green retrofit.


impacts at local level could bring the desired reductions of the impact at a national level. Various opportunities for intervention have since been identified. For example, retrofit in conjunction with National Plan 38 of strengthening buildings against earthquakes with additional construction and upgrade of existing infrastructure, World Heritage conservation sites, urban regeneration projects, which increase urban density and community-led initiatives, such as community gardens, and urban farming. The project was promoted among relevant stakeholders in the country, including the President’s Office, Ministries of Interior, Environmental Protection, Energy and National Infrastructure, and Housing, various Municipalities, businesses developing green technologies, practitioners, NGOs, and the broader public. The aim was to create awareness of green retrofit projects and to create a market demand, including publicprivate partnerships for implementation. The Pilot Project was open to visitors, and has inspired many around the country and abroad to take action. It was also presented at various national and international conferences and in the local media. Although the central and local governments were reluctant to adopt green retrofit in their policies for many years,

The process is now entering its third phase — proliferated implementation. There are currently more than 10 projects at various stages in Israel. The author has also 133 established The Green Retrofit Network to facilitate and encourage knowledge transfer at glocal level. Sustainable development requires all stakeholders, private and public, to focus their common effort on local level and on cities. The Israel Retrofit Campaign, still underway, is a tangible example of such an effort at a neighborhood and community scale. Success of such efforts, similar to the Pilot Project and Campaign, require patience, persistence, and perseverance. References: Synthesis of National Reports for Rio+20 Summit, 2012 Peled G.,The Jerusalem Eco-Housing Pilot Project, 2008 Sustainable Buildings: The Challenge of the Existing Stock, 2005


1. Cover of ‘The World’s Greenest Buildings’ (Routledge, 2013) by Ulf Meyer and Jerry Yudelson (Courtesy of Ulf Meyer) 2. Workshop led by Ulf Meyer at ECOWEEK 2012 in the Middle East, hosted at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem (Image ECOWEEK)

Ulf Meyer (Germany) Architect, Senior Associate at HENN architecture firm in Germany. Graduated from the Technical University (TU) of Berlin and studied abroad at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago.

Ulf Meyer 135



In Search of the Truly Green Building Ulf Meyer


verybody talks about ‘green’ buildings, yet few seem to know exactly what they are. ‘Green’ buildings often do not look ‘green,’ but can be identified as such only through their performance and other often invisible factors. But how can we evaluate performance? Until now, in our profession, there has been no culture of collecting performance data of buildings or a transparent methodology to share this data. This leaves us with too many unsubstantiated claims! After writing, thinking, and teaching about ‘green’ architecture for several years, I became increasingly frustrated with this reality. I was therefore very happy when Jerry Yudelson, a prominent ‘green’ building engineer from Tucson, Arizona, asked me to write a book about this topic with him. It really happened and the book, The World’s Greenest Buildings has now been published. We set out to do something that may seem rather simple: to collect the data of the world’s best performing buildings, and compile them in our book to measure their ‘promise versus performance.’ This seemingly simple task turned out to be extremely difficult. It became apparent that there are very few trustworthy post-occupancy evaluations in the world which could be compared. Nevertheless, we were determined to persevere, because buildings worldwide, and their operations, including construction, renovation, supply, and maintenance, account for about 40% of global anthropogenic carbon emissions. The has

energy performance of buildings received growing attention from

governments, businesses, and NGOs. We found that many people realize that global climate change cannot be seriously addressed without tackling the issue of the energy performance of buildings. Most designers know that the energy performance of buildings can be improved with simple 137 improvements in design, construction, and operational standards. There is also growing public appreciation toward the benefits of energy efficient buildings, sustainable design, intelligent location, water conservation, materials and resource conservation, and indoor environmental quality. There has been a professional debate about the real performance of ‘green’ buildings, especially in terms of the reduction in energy and water use. Recent research has shown that most LEED-certified projects consume an average of about 30% less energy than those designed according to the baseline ASHRAE Standard 90.1. Yet, this debate centers around a small group of projects, perhaps 25% of the total certified ‘green’ buildings, that are showing to be performing worse than conventional buildings built to standard code requirements. These projects fail to deliver projected savings, and therefore the question is whether a project which does not deliver any savings in energy or carbon emissions should be referred to as a ‘green’ building, in spite of the fact that it meets the criteria of the appropriate rating system.



So, as actual performance information was missing for ‘green’ building projects, we set out to collect it. Third-party ‘green’ building rating systems first came into use in the early 2000s. Beginning about 2006, these systems began to take off, as thousands of projects registered. The first system was BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). This was followed by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council, and currently in use by more than 30,000 non-residential projects in more than 150 countries, giving a top rating of Platinum to about 6% of total certified projects. The Australian Green Star system (also used in New Zealand and South

Africa) gives a top rating of 6 Star to a handful of certified projects. Similar ‘green’ building systems have been established in Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, and France. LEED has been adopted (and adapted for local conditions) in Canada and India. Some countries on the Arabian Peninsula have created their own ‘green’ building codes, notably Qatar and the UAE. However, at this time, LEED is the dominant system worldwide. The salient fact in ‘green’ building rating systems is that they are converging around similar issues, measurements and weightings of relative importance of environmental attributes, with energy use as the largest single factor. With nearly 100 countries having national ‘green’ building councils, the

issue of how the ‘greenest’ buildings in the world are actually performing has become a subject of great interest and importance. Because actual performance data were missing for most ‘green’ building projects, we set out to find this information. Our aim was to select the ‘world’s greenest buildings’ for our book. For a building to qualify, it had to meet all of the following conditions: 1. To have a built area of at least 4,500 square meters. 2. To be a non-residential building. 3. To be evaluated with the highest grade in a rating system. 4. The owners and managers must be willing to share a full year’s energy use data. 5. To have begun operations after January 1, 2004. 6. The energy performance should be equivalent to the ‘best results’ based on local climate and building type. One of our aims was to demonstrate that ‘green’ buildings, low energy use and great architecture are not incompatible. On the contrary. We believe that beautiful architecture is essential for sustainable design. Unattractive buildings will not enjoy the commitment of owners and occupants required for a long—term maintenance and upkeep, necessary for the efficient functioning of a building. Longevity of buildings is critical to compensate for the carbon emissions and embodied energy of the materials used in the construction and support of buildings. Our conclusion is that we can have great ‘green’

buildings with zero net energy use. Beyond their environmental benefits, these buildings, are an inspiration toward the transformation not only of the design of buildings, but of the entire construction industry as well. 139


1. Rose Lee’s House (Photographer Tim Hursley) 2. Interior of Rose Lee’s House (Photographer Tim Hursley) 3, 4. Constructing Rose Lee’s House (Photographer Tim Hursley) 5. General view of Rose Lee’s House (Photographer Tim Hursley) 6. Detail of courtyard wall and window at Rose Lee’s House (Courtesy of Rural Studio) 7. Detail drawing for Rose Lee’s House (Courtesy of Rural Studio) 8. Work at the old barn for Rose Lee’s House (Courtesy of Rural Studio) 9. Building the trusses for Rose Lee’s House (Courtesy of Rural Studio)

Elena Barthel (USA & Italy) Architect at the Rural Studio. Graduate of the University of Florence in Italy. Recently completed her PHD with the thesis ‘Design & Build at the Rural Studio: the Education of the Citizen Architect.’

Elena Barthel 141



Ingredients Elena Barthel


aking good architecture is like making good food. They both rely on the appropriate choice of good ingredients. For me, the process of choosing ingredients is the best part of making architecture (and food). I enjoy every single step. It starts with a good dose of observation and research, a variety of explorations, and then, finally, testing. The range of ingredients can be as broad as your imagination and as appropriate as your sensibility. I would like to suggest that an unconditional trust in your personal instinct, curiosity, the involvement of multidisciplinary knowledge, and an open interpretation of precedent ‘recipes’ are the keys to a fruitful process.

There are two important actions in the process of choosing ingredients: a. The Understanding of their Provenance The relationship with the place, the people, the local habits, culture, economy, climate, and landscape. Given my Italian roots, I fully 143 appreciate eating a tomato ‘Fiorentino’ and building with terracotta bricks in Tuscany, or eating capers from ‘Pantelleria’ and to build with limestone in Sicily. But, when you ‘take away the place’ from the ingredients, they are not as satisfying. In Sicily, in the south, the tomato ‘Fiorentino’ doesn’t taste as good, and in Florence the southern ‘Pantelleria’ capers are not as




fragrant. Similarly, the Tuscan terracotta brick doesn’t protect the Sicilian buildings from heat as well as the indigenous reflective white stone, and transposed southern Puglia limestone doesn’t keep the heat inside the northern construction as well as the Florentine red clay. Food and architecture, when tied to their context, support the local social and economic fabric, respect the environment, perform efficiently, age beautifully, and give everybody a great experience. b. Scavenging for Unpredictable Ingredients In the Italian kitchen, ‘yesterday’s leftovers’ are the best ingredients for surprise pasta dishes. Unique meals almost impossible to replicate! I love to let leftovers inspire my lunch. How should I combine them? What should I add? The answers come through a mutual dialogue between me and what is sitting in the refrigerator. Architecture is the same. Salvaging neglected materials and reinterpreting the traditional, is for me the greatest pleasure of the design and making process.


Finding the appropriate use for waste materials is a design challenge that forces one to dare try out unusual construction methods. At the same time, experimenting with unconventional building types requires the design of very clear structural hierarchies — the building’s primary and secondary structures, the exterior finishing, and details. How should they act when the expression of the building demands a rough and irregular recycled material? This is a great challenge to the architect! The results of this type of architecture are usually unique and are as unpredictable as the ingredients in food. To succeed, it needs a lot of passion, patience, and rigor, and that is what makes the job of the architect more interesting! Ultimately, giving priority to local and salvaged ingredients is a good alternative to devastating contemporary homogenized architecture and the globalized fast food industry. The fundamental question is: why should we expect to eat the same type of dish and live in the same building type all around the globe? I challenge you to think of a good reason.



I first heard about the Rural Studio in 2000, when a friend gave me a book with the profound dedication: ‘One day we should go work with them!’ The book was titled: ‘Rural Studio, Samuel Mockbee an Architecture of Decency.’


years, most local growers have disappeared, together with the associated devastation of the population’s health, social, and economic fabric. In 20 years we expect 80% of the local population to be obese. Small—scale food systems have been replaced by large-scale farming industries, with no concern for the

One year later, I was stacking straw bale and aluminium cans for a Rural Studio exhibition in Barcelona. After the Spanish experience, I started visiting the studio once a year, and in 2008 I went to Newbern to teach the Second Year Studio as a visiting professor. I am now an assistant professor running the Rural Studio Farm, a multi-phased project, focused on the redesign of the studio’s property as an opportunity to experiment with organic food, renewable energies, and sustainable building materials. The Farm is intended as a prototypical self-efficient homestead, and a way of thinking locally with a holistic attitude. The project responds to a critical problem of contemporary rural low-income communities — the disappearance of fresh, locally grown food and its traditional culinary culture. In West Alabama, over the last one hundred


and the building process. We chose to develop an L-shaped ‘Expandable Courtyard House,’ with the idea of responding to the transient nature of the contemporary family. We wanted to test a low-rise model for the densification of rural villages, as an alternative to diffuse ‘sub-rural’ sprawl, able to accommodate elders and the young together.



long-term environmental consequences of their cultivation methods and products. In parallel with the growth of cities and urban sprawl, the quality of edible produce has decreased. The results are rural settlements progressively transformed from dense villages surrounded by agricultural land, to sub-rural sprawls with fast food strips. I believe that architects should respond to this challenge. Since the beginning of the program in 1994, the Rural Studio’s youngest students have been charged with the design and construction of single-family houses. In 2008, the group under my charge had the opportunity to build a house for Rose Lee Turner and her two sons in Footwash, a small community south of the Rural Studio headquarters. Hers was a very common West Alabama family, supported by Federal subsidy, with simple living conditions and no running water. She is part of the 26% of the population in Hale County who still live below the poverty line, relying on a small and fragile economy. Rose’s family’s lack of resources informed every step of our design

Learning from the traditional local farmhouse, Rose Lee’s House can expand and grow over time, according to the family’s needs and available resources. It can be maintained with a small budget, and is built with local and scavenged materials. The 1,200 — square — foot dwelling has been designed with a core volume, known as ‘The Machine,’ with a perpendicular ‘Expansion Wing’ on the west side of the site. ‘The Machine’ provides the basic family needs — the main bedroom, a large living-dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. The ‘Expansion Wing’ provides two more bedrooms for Rose’s sons. Two very different outdoor spaces help the house environmentally. On the front of the building, we dedicated a horizontal and very typical southern porch to Rose’s social life. Facing south, it shades the building and offers a cool place to sit during the hot West Alabama months. The backyard faces north, brings natural light, ventilation, and the landscape into the center of the house, offering a mild winter outdoor living room. The ‘daytime’ part of the house is situated between the front porch and the courtyard, both accessible by large sliding doors, with

a good cross—ventilation throughout the day. To respond to the family’s lack of resources: both the kitchen and bathroom have natural light; a clerestory in the front of the house allows sunlight to heat the main living space in winter. The exterior of Rose Lee’s house is fully wrapped in cedar — a resinous local wood traditionally used in West Alabama buildings, because of its water resistant qualities. The wood gives to the house a strong character, long—lasting facades, and the name ‘Cedar House.’ It also illustrates the students’ intention to support the local log industry. Inside the dwelling, the living room walls and roof trusses are built with 2x8-inch heart pine boards reclaimed from an old barn nearby. Another ‘zero miles’ locally sourced

ingredient for Rose Lee’s home. At the Rural Studio the ingredients are important. Beyond the mandate to train young architects, the Studio, over the last twenty years, took on the responsibility to understand, respect, and support the local community. 147 When choosing materials, our students have the moral responsibility to understand the social, economic, and environmental impact of their choices. We always encourage them to see every ingredient as an opportunity to both experiment and help their clients to affordably build and maintain their projects. It is a matter of appropriateness and social responsibility. This is what we call ‘sustainability with a small ‘s,’’ that is, a low tech, low maintenance, but highly responsive approach, toward architecture and its environmentally valuable ingredients.



1. Hot arid desert: Controlled microclimate with evaporative cooling tower. Administration building, Ben Gurion (BGU) Sede Boqer Campus, Israel. Design by DAUP (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 2. Temperate dry Mediterranean: Traditional housing in Southern Greece (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 3. Tropical: Private house with deep eaves and elevated rooftop for ventilation. Palm Beach, Florida, USA (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 4. Hyper arid desert: Vernacular mud house with cane and reed structure. Atacama, Chile (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 5. Warm humid: Shading envelope around library building at Sunshine Coast University. SE Queensland, Australia. Design by Donovan Hill (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 6. Borderline oceanic: Arcade as semi-private, semi-public transition space. Prague, Czech Republic (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 7. Continental warm: Arcade as semi-private, semipublic transition space. Evora, Portugal (Courtesy of Isaac Meir) 8. Humid continental: Intelligent structural design saves embodied energy. Golden LEED Hearst Tower in New York, USA. Design by Norman Foster. (Courtesy of Isaac Meir)

Isaac Meir (Israel) Desert Architecture expert, graduate of the Technion Institute of Technology and Associate Professor and former Chair of the Desert Architecture & Urban Planning Department of Ben Gurion University.

Isaac Meir 149



Green Architecture: The Architecture of Survivability Isaac A. Meir ‘Dwellings are built to serve a variety of functions, but one of the most important is to create living conditions that are acceptable to their occupiers, particularly in relation to the prevailing climates.’ Paul Oliver (2003), Dwellings Abstract Is ‘green’ – sustainable - architecture a necessity or a commodity? Is it relevant for rich and developed countries only, or is it also applicable to poor and developing countries? Is it about high-tech solutions, or is it about simple solutions, which can be lowtech? The discourse on the benefits of green architecture has been going on for a number of years. First, studies have been published in some countries aiming at establishing a cost-benefit model to assess the pros and cons of ‘green’ architecture. Yet this paper will attempt to make the case for the survivability advantages of ‘green’ sustainable design, especially in countries where advanced technologies are but a dream, and where the majority of the population lives, works, and studies in substandard buildings which can rarely provide more than, literally, a roof over their heads. Introduction Traditional vernacular architecture has developed over generations, aiming to make the best use of the materials provided by the immediate natural environment. Where the climate was extreme, architectural solutions aimed at providing either an insulating envelope from extreme cold (e.g., the Inuit igloo), or for extreme heat (e.g., underground

dwellings in Matmata, Tunisia, or the North Western Provinces, PRC). Where climate and weather vary through seasons and daytime, they dictated flexible solutions (e.g., intramural migration, as in traditional Iranian dwellings). Where the climate was hot and humid, traditional dwellings were mere permeable 151 shading envelopes, allowing free ventilation for comfort, while providing protection from sun and rain. Where the climate dictated movement between summer and winter pasture, vernacular solutions produced shelter types easy to dismantle, transport and erect (e.g., the Bedouin black tent of the




Middle East and North Africa – MENA, or the Mongol yurt common throughout Central Asia). Among the pronounced characteristics of the vernacular types are transition spaces – both in and out, or neither entirely in nor entirely out – which allow functional flexibility and modified micro-climates. The vast variety of such solutions – and their amazing similarities in essence yet not necessarily in form – have been documented systematically in Paul Oliver’s magnum opus on world vernacular architecture. But one needs not look for the exotic or the remote to realize how local constraints have shaped the physical environment, up to about the beginning of the 20th century. Since the industrial revolution, new technologies have offered technical solutions to practically all environmental and other constraints: electric lighting, air-conditioning, elevators, and escalators. More recently, technology has introduced selective glazing coatings, intelligent control systems, and in the near future, may even introduce interactive facades and whole building systems, which learn the user’s daily living patterns and can react accordingly. What seemed to be science fiction a few years ago has already become feasible. But are such solutions necessary for ‘green’ architecture, and even if so, are they relevant for and accessible to everybody? Is ‘green’ architecture an overhead on the cost of a project, or can we do things differently?


‘Green’ Architecture through the Cost-Benefit Looking Glass One of the methodological problems in the cost-benefit analysis of ‘green’ buildings is the need for a statistically wide inventory of existing buildings, to allow for a statistically significant analysis of the costs and evaluation of the benefits. Few countries can provide today a sufficient inventory of ‘green’ buildings necessary for this analysis. Though there is a fundamental discourse on what is indeed a ‘green’ building and not merely a ‘greenwash,’ we shall not enter it in this paper due to the limited length, and shall accept what other researchers have defined as ‘green.’ Nor shall we try to compare the different assessment tools, e.g., LEED, BREEAM, CASBEE, Green Star, Estidama, and others, and will only state that such differences are big and often of fundamental implications, not least in failing to incorporate the user factor. However, if we disregard all such discrepancies and look at the data, we can see that the range of costs of ‘green’ buildings is 0-10% higher than non-‘green’ buildings (of course there are outliers in both categories). This seems to be in agreement with theoretical cost-benefit models, built and tested in Israel, for example. What most of the researchers and practitioners agree on is that the earlier in the design process ‘green’ decisions are made and ‘green’ concepts introduced, the lower their added costs, if any at all. This stems from the varying nature of decisions in the design


process. The orientation of the project on the site vis-à-vis solar movement and wind directions may have no cost, but great benefits. Among them, solar protection in the summer and free solar access in winter for passive heating, and wind protection in the winter and wind exposure to summer night breezes for passive cooling. Other items on the ‘green’ architecture solutions inventory may include upgrading thermal insulation above the lower threshold defined by building standards and legislation, where such exist. The upgrade will add to the total cost, but only for the material added to that already defined by law. Such added costs are usually negligible, relative to the overall costs of a housing unit or office space, while the resulting benefits, in terms of energy conservation, may prove significant. Other aspects of ‘green’ architecture include the conservation of resources by energy conserving building systems (e.g., lighting, heating ventilation and air conditioning – HVAC — elevators, and escalators), water conserving systems (e.g., dual flushing toilets, harvesting of rainwater and HVAC condensation, grey water and sewage treatment and reuse on site) and a much broader lifecycle energy assessment (LCEA) of materials and buildings as a whole. Buildings in industrialized countries are responsible for nearly 50% of the energy usage (including embodied energy), thus also responsible for about 50% of carbon emissions. Preference of materials with low embodied energy has far-


reaching implications. It promotes less energy use in the production of buildings, which means lower demand for energy generation, 153 and this lowers emissions and thus promotes public health and climate change mitigation. Public health in itself is an issue of direct relevance to ‘green’ architecture, yet so multifaceted and complex that it is mostly ignored or miscalculated. It falls under the broad and



undefined term of ‘externalities’ – i.e., indirect costs — yet the implications are of no external nature to most of us. Materials emitting gases and particles are most of the commonly used finish materials and products. Their emissions affect indoor environment quality (IEQ), which in turn affects the well-being, productivity, and health of building users. It is estimated that more than 30% of all new and renovated buildings have poor IEQ, which is commonly known as the ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS). The few studies carried out so far estimate the cost of such ‘externalities’ to millions of dollars per year per country, caused by lost productivity, absenteeism and sick leave, and long term health deterioration. Consequently, correcting the problem will have multiple benefits – for the building user, the owner, and the public at large. Part of the discourse focuses on who should pay for the added costs. Developers are concerned with lowering construction costs, whereas owners are concerned with lower operational costs. Such different interests foster friction between stakeholders. The only theoretically objective player is the regulator (State), who should have public health and environmental quality as its priority. It should thus be assumed that the State should promote legislation, standards, and practices for the benefit of the public, including making mandatory the post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of projects, which will ensure proper use, and allow adjustments by the architect, consultants, managers, and occupants. This would require public funds in the form of incentives, until ‘green’ practices become the

norm. But is the State’s intervention indeed so badly and urgently needed? It is all about Survivability and Resilience In recent years we have come to realize that the climate is changing, and climatic instability and unpredictability are becoming the norm. These affect livelihoods and communities, shaking the foundations of long—established behavioral and economic patterns. Among communities affected the most are the poorest ones, living in fragile environments, e.g., drylands and deserts, small islands, and river deltas. We are already experiencing a gradual exodus of communities from their homelands due to climate change. Australia and New Zealand are preparing to absorb communities of climate refugees from the small atoll nations of the Pacific, while the Netherlands and other low countries are preparing to relocate many of their communities to safer grounds once it becomes uneconomical to keep them below rising sea levels. So far, most of these plans have not yet materialized. Recent research warns that Australia may be forced to abandon many of its desert communities, as global warming will make them economically unsustainable. We are already past the point of contemplating potential long—term effects. Already in the summer of 2003, Europe experienced an extreme heat wave, which in France alone caused more than 15,000 deaths in excess of the annual average for the month of August. Since then, we have repeatedly experienced such extreme events. Regions on the edge of deserts are warming

and drying up, challenging their populations with more extreme conditions, accompanied also by heavy and more frequent dust and sand storms, all of which affect morbidity and mortality. 155

So, what has ‘green’ architecture to do with all of this? For one, it can provide better, more livable indoor environments for exacerbated climatic conditions, without overburdening the power infrastructure. Furthermore, ‘green’ architecture can reduce the buildings’ overall impact on the environment. For developing countries the issue of power infrastructure stress may be critical, due to poor infrastructures, making survivability even more urgent and extreme. This is even more important in countries undergoing rapid urbanization alongside population growth, which unfortunately, tend to be poorer and with less developed infrastructure. In a recent longitudinal study on green building standards in MENA, some distinctly different trends were identified in the twenty countries surveyed. Whereas smaller and already urbanized countries are taking a ‘green’ path as a strategic option, the larger, poorer, and rapidly growing countries are for the time being paying lip service to ‘green’ solutions. This is potentially disastrous, because rural populations flooding the already overburdened cities will have to deal with hotter and drier conditions in denser, low quality housing. For these communities, sustainable architecture is not just a matter of choice, but a matter of survivability.



1. Preliminary proposals for Cultivate it! ECOWEEK 2011 workshop in Thessaloniki (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 2. 8 m2 Habitat (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 3. Crack Typography 1 (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 4. Crack Typography 2 (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros). 5. Crack Typography 3 (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 6. Synoikia Pittaki (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 7. 150 colorful lights in Athens (Photographer Nikos Libertas) 8. Cultivate it! Presentation panel of ECOWEEK 2011 workshop in Thessaloniki (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 9. Cultivate it! ECOWEEK 2011 workshop team in Thessaloniki (Courtesy of Vasileios Ntovros) 10, 11. Transformati (Photographer Alice Fiorilli)

Vasileios Ntovros (Greece) Architect graduate of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with graduate studies at IAAC-Barcelona. Founding member of lighting team BEFORE LIGHT.

Vasileios Ntovros 157


Looking for Eco-Logic Vasileios Ntovros


s the word Ecology originates from the Greek words eco-οἶκος (=house), logy -λογία, (=study of), it is easily understood that it refers to our ‘big house,’ Nature itself. Humanity has ignored the environment, exploiting our planet for the sake of economic and social growth. Statistics from all over the world reflect that we are exceeding our planet’s bio-capacity and simultaneously ignoring the consequences that are starting to appear. We are facing an immense challenge to rediscover the ‘logic of our house,’ not only as a society, but each one of us individually as well. I would like to share some professional and personal experiences and specific examples to illustrate my views. a. Working Methods Sustainability should be understood as a compound challenge with applications to society, the economy, and the environment. It is true that when aiming for social change, teaching young students or writing for newspapers may have better results than designing and constructing buildings. However, given the appropriate project, we have the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary teams of environmental engineers, graphic designers, sociologists, economists, and archaeologists with different types of organizational structures. Whether working in a loose collaborative, hierarchical partnership, or professionally managed team, the final result and the efficiency of the process will depend on effective

communication. Using different design tools to continuously test visual techniques and climatic simulations, will offer the opportunity for each participant in the team to exchange information and contribute to the design decision making. It may sometimes seem that issues of sustainability are stifling our creative freedom. The truth is, that by choosing to work in this field, one is obliged to accept a series of constraints. On the other hand, there is no other way to reach the real goal, i.e., design for a harmonious coexistence with nature. I would prefer to consider these limitations as opportunities for understanding the relationship between humanity and the natural environment. As a matter of fact, we are part of this natural system which, if left alone, works extremely efficiently.





b. Testing Different Sustainable Strategies

space, materials, and energy.

Our work aspires to educate people, not only through the final building, but through the process and the effort to impose sustainable practices in ordinary life as well. I would like to suggest six key ideas or strategies which I tested on different occasions.

Encourage Reuse The consumption of natural resources is often a non-renewable process. This means that natural resources might be exhausted, as a result of our continuing the current levels of consumption. Reuse of resources is necessary for managing consumption and limiting the generation of waste.

Living with Less The challenge for every human activity is to understand its real needs and then try to minimize the human footprint in the use of



Technology Changes the Rules of Production Technology brings revolution to production. Since the Industrial Revolution and through the Digital Age, technology is changing the hierarchy of centrally controlled production. Social networks, combined with DIY solutions, can replace financial and manufacturing hierarchical structures. Activate Social InterAction Charles Bukowski said: ‘We must bring our own light to the darkness. Nobody is going to do it for us.’ Only community involvement can repair the real problems and address the needs of the community itself. Integrate Sustainable Strategies in the Design of Buildings The construction of the building and the necessary maintenance throughout its lifetime, are processes that use significant amounts of energy and pollute the natural environment. By integrating sustainable strategies, we are contributing in reversing



the ‘negative’ impact of buildings on the environment.

On the contrary, we invested great attention to design.

Teaching Sustainability The process of teaching concepts of sustainability gives us the opportunity, not only to educate people to face our socialeconomical-environment problems with respect and creativity, but to continuously research and challenge our personal assumptions as well.

Crack Typography: Toward the Landscape 161 and Bioclimatic Elements Chalkis, Greece, 2010 (with Rodrigo Rubio Cuadrado, Margen-Lab) The study was for a new building for the firm ‘TYPOTECHNIKI graphics,’ located in the semi-rural area of Chalkis in Greece. The aim of the architectural proposal was to establish a direct dialogue between human activity and the natural environment. Through the integration of climatic data, we proposed a combination of volume and void.

c. Examples 8m3 Habitat: Sustainability of the Space. Athens, Greece, 2012 I was commissioned to transform a very special space into a guest room. The space was extremely small, measuring 1.74 m in length, 2.54 m in width and 1.80 m in height, a total volume of approximately 8m3. The space included a wide range of temporary functions, such as place to sleep, to lounge, storage, a wardrobe, a small library space, flexible lighting, and handicap access. The design attempted to integrate all of these uses, while ensuring that they were viable, even if they overlapped. This small habitation unit embodied modern life, with its minimal need of space at the lowest possible cost. Yet we had to ensure that the quality of the space was not neglected, due to the small area and volume of the space.

The roof of a seemingly rigid rectangular space was broken into two open double roofs. This break – ‘the crack’ - created a skylight in the middle of the building for optimal ventilation and a view of the landscape from the office level. At the same time, a series of climatic and environmentally friendly strategies, such as optimal solar orientation, cross ventilation, a planted roof, a vertical garden, and the use of recycled wood products, such as OSB, helped create a proposal with a minimum negative environmental impact. Finally, the continuous partly planted sidewalk gives the necessary rigor and physical protection for the industrial functioning of the building. The entrance to the space ensures a direct relationship with the outside natural environment.

the development of the project. The process of repairing, testing, and waterproofing the lamps was undertaken by a group of engaged volunteers, who also hung more than 150 lamps and created a colorful ceiling over the street. A big inaugural street party took place during which all the lights were turned on. Despite heavy rain, everybody came to see the lights and to enjoy the installation and its effect on the neighborhood — not only those who donated their lights, their friends, and the team of volunteers for the project, but the neighborhood residents and people from all over Athens as well.


d. Workshops


Synoikia Pittaki: Citizens’ Engagement. Athens, Greece, 2012 (with Imagine The City, Beforelight ) Pittaki is a narrow street in Monastiraki area, in the heart of Athens. There are only a few small shops and very few residents. It never drew too much attention, until the project ‘Synoikia Pittaki’ began. The people of Athens were invited and mobilized to donate their old lighting fixtures for the creation of a participatory lighting installation. Murals were painted along the walls of the street, in order to transform the abandoned streets of central Athens into more user-friendly spaces. An abandoned shop was temporarily transformed into an open workspace for people to gather, observe, and participate in

Cultivate it! Sustainable Strategy ECOWEEK, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2011 (with Arch. Maria Koutsari, and Arch. Theodoris Theodoridis) The aim of this workshop was to introduce students to the complex idea of sustainability through social, economic, and environmental aspects. The aim of the workshop was to design and construct a selling point in a street market, reusing abandoned materials from the market. An open-air market is an urban activity with significant and sustainable, stimuli: a. Social: human contact, street reclaimed for pedestrians, human scale. b. Economic: brings producer closer to consumer, functional mobility. c. Environmental: ephemeral nature (sharing of public space), waste management.

The workshop evolved in three phases: a. Mapping: collecting and presenting real data on the street market. b. Component: identifying a material to be reused and developing it into a structural component. c. ‘Battlefield’: Hands-on construction of a selling point pavilion, in real time, during the short timespan of a street market.



During these phases, we tested prototypes and reviewed different possible ‘products to sell.’ We finally constructed a small pavilion out of collected - and recycled - empty plastic crates. Crates were also filled with soil and seeds and were handed to people, thus spreading the idea of urban agriculture in a balcony, terrace, or in an open public space. I trasformati: DIY Energy—Saving Structure. Ammirato Cultural Center, Lecce, Italy, 2011 (with Arch. Fabiano Spano) The aim of the workshop was to experiment in constructing a photovoltaic cupola in full scale, within the Ammirato Cultural Center, a sixteenth century building in Lecce, Italy. The guiding ideas were to integrate photovoltaic elements into an architectural form, to experiment with wood as the basic material, and to build it based on Do-ItYourself methods. The working method was based on a continuous experimentation of the structural properties of wood, while the tested results were used as feedback for parametric design. The final design of the photovoltaic roof was



constructed and installed by the participants, thus having the opportunity to go through the entire process of parametric design, tested prototypes, material properties, manufacturing of building elements, and management of construction.


1, 2, 3, 4. ZeroHome (Photographer Barak Brinker) 5, 6, 7. The Solar Decathlon Project (Photographer Lior Avitan and Julia Berezina) 8, 9, 10. The Porter School of Environmental Studies, Tel Aviv University (Photographer Shai Epstein)

Joseph Cory (Israel) Architect and founder of GEOTECTURA, an award-winning architectural studio.

Joseph Cory 165



Green Scale Joseph Cory


hen invited to write about sustainability from my experience as an architect, I ask myself a question one should often ask: Are we sustainable enough in our own practice? Do we make our world a better place with what we accomplish through design and teaching? Does our work balance the social and economic objectives of our buildings with our ecological aspirations, and therefore can they be considered sustainable? I will try to answer these questions by presenting three projects I have worked on recently, which I consider to be truly sustainable. These projects are different in scale, budget, and program. However, in my opinion, they share the same sustainability values. In retrospect, and from the experience gained in these projects, I believe that by defining basic principles one can set a moral compass to steer the design toward sustainability, regardless of the size or budget of the project.

an ecological capsule. Both the energy needed should be produced and all the waste produced should be processed within the boundaries of the property. The challenge was not only technical, but educational as well. The house is designed to be disconnected from the municipal sewage system, national electric, water, and gas grids. However, it meets all the clients’ existential needs: water, food, heating, and protection from the elements. The house offers adequate space for sleeping, entertaining, work, and rest, and recycles all its waste. The client lives comfortably, not only by not damaging the environment, but in fact, by being a benefit to the environment. The entrance to the house is the silhouette a child would sketch for a ‘house.’ But, upon entering the house one immediately realizes that the world of the house is ‘flipped’: the rear of the house has the same silhouette as the front, only upside down. This symbolic

Self—Sustained House: ZeroHome Project Design by: Geotectura Size: 18 sq.m. Budget: $5,000 This project was born out of the request of a client to build her a small and movable house with a minimal environmental footprint. She wanted to grow her own food and never depend on anyone outside the perimeter of the house. A key requirement to the design of the house was also to educate visitors by showing them that it is possible to live within






act provokes the visitor to think about the changes needed as we strive toward a sustainable lifestyle. The surprising and dynamic interior enables the client to slow the pace and converse with the many hasty visitors. She talks about breathing deeply, eating fresh food, spending time with friends, sharing generously, connecting to the community, returning our ‘waste’ to the earth, and much more. These simple acts are perceived as quaint and unattainable within our hyperactive consumer culture. This is why the client wanted the home to guide her guests to rediscover environmental values inside the ‘eco womb.’ The house functions as a vessel containing thoughts, and gives the client and her guests a space in time to connect to their most basic needs by asking: Is the air we’re breathing nurturing us? Is the water we’re drinking clean enough? Is the food we’re eating really healthy? Where do the remains of our food go? Do we love enough? Where did our childhood dreams go?


ZeroHome was built with a minimum budget. Almost all of the building materials were collected from waste. Most of the appliances and materials are reused, recycled, and even reinvented, in order to exploit what was available and avoid the manufacture of new things. A significant social benefit of this small project was the active participation of the local community in the assembly and disassembly of the house. This allowed the client to move her house from one eco-festival to another, spreading her ideas and exchanging knowledge among many environmentally aware communities. Net Zero House: Team Israel Entry to the China Solar Decathlon Competition Design by: Israeli students with supervisors Dr. Joseph Cory (Geotectura) and Chen Shalita Size: 70 sq.m. Budget: Approx. $150,000 (basic version) In 2013, twenty collegiate teams competed in the Solar Decathlon Competition in China to design, build, and operate solar-powered

net zero energy houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive. The house designed by our team won fourth place, and was voted among the best performing houses in the history of the competition. The design brought together cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The building was tested and proved to produce more energy than it consumes. It was affordable, attractive, and maintained comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions. As a conclusion to the measured tests, our house performed best and showed that a combination of cutting edge technologies, and passive solar design with cultural and historical insights can produce excellent results. The Solar Decathlon Competition is based upon a vision combining sustainability with education. Our team worked on the project for two years. We not only designed a self-


sufficient house, which met the rigorous demands of the Competition guidelines, but we also educated the next generation of designers for sustainability. Despite their small size, such projects, which combine design and hands-on experience, can 169 empower many future professionals. The Competition design process taught us many lessons. For example, that the principles of sustainable design can be learned and implemented by students in a short span of





time. It is important always to consider our work as a form of research and a process of learning, and never to assume that we know everything, but to always seek better ideas. I believe that by maintaining an open source approach, we can guarantee that we will not only keep challenging ourselves and pushing our limits, but contributing to the education of current and future generations as well. LEED Building: The Porter School of Environmental Studies Design by: Geotectura with Axelrod Grobman Architects and Chen Architects Size: 3,800 sq.m. Budget: Approx. $7 million The Porter School for Environmental Studies was built according to principles of sustainable design, aiming for LEED Platinum. It is Tel Aviv University`s first ‘green’ building, and one of the first of its kind in Israel. The project is a living lab of environmental and social values. We followed the vision of the client and donor, Dame Shirley Porter, who

established the Porter School as the first environmental school in Israel in 2000. She aimed for a building which would reflect her vision of sustainability and education by example. Our team of architects and designers chose not to just simply follow basic ‘green’ principles, but to give the building an educational significance, and thus enhance the environmental message of the School. The ideas embodied are visible and within reach not only to the researchers, but to the general public as well. The eco-wall balconies display what we do and what we dream of. The building can adapt to changing technologies. Strolling along the eco-wall, the terminology of sustainable solutions is simplified and explained to the broader public. The ecowall is an iconic window display constantly changing and acting as a social educational interface. The ground floor and the roof exhibit current research in energy, water, soil, vegetation, and materials which visitors can see, touch, and understand. Our vision is that

the new Porter building will be a relevant and attractive laboratory to leading researchers from around the world for the present and for the future. The role of a building is to also educate its users especially when designing a School. Thus, the meeting room ‘capsule’ (which may represent earth under human pressure), displays on its outer LED skin the level of pollution in the city of Tel Aviv. The entire building has embedded sustainable technologies, passive solar design, and energy independence. When a building can optimize performance and the results are measured and monitored, they then should be displayed, so the ideas and solutions integrated can be adopted by other buildings too. The Porter School aims to become an educational model for present and future designers and teachers, enabling them to understand about sustainability through the design process and the building. Conclusion Projects may be different but they can share common goals. For example, being energy independent, designed according to basic ecological principles (and green codes), and, most importantly, embracing educational and social values. To further enhance the educational value of architecture, the knowledge gained in the process of design, construction, and maintenance of these buildings is made accessible to the public, to educate other professionals and inspire other communities.

In addition, these projects nurture a collaboration and balance between academy and industry, between designer and community, and between technology and economy. In effect, regardless of the scale, budget, or program, every project can share the same sustainable values. I do hope 171 that these projects will inspire current and future architects to find their own sustainable compass to guide them toward their own sustainable path.




1. NINA by Pir II solar shading (Photographer Sinde Karlsen) 2. NINA by Pir II southwest facade (Photographer Sinde Karlsen) 3. NINA by Pir II canteen (Photographer Sinde Karlsen) 4. NINA by Pir II typical office interior (Photographer Sinde Karlsen) 5. NINA by Pir II interior, typical office space (Photographer: Sindre Karlsen) 6. NINA by Pir II roof landscape seen from above (Photographer: Matthias Herzog) 7. NINA by Pir II interior of meeting center, under glass roof (Photographer: Matthias Herzog)

Ørjan Nyheim (Norway) Architect at Pir II. Graduated from NTNU, with a Master’s thesis exploring building off-grid in Norway.

Ørjan Nyheim 173



The Architect’s Framework for Sustainable Architecture in Norway Ørjan Nyheim


rchitecture needs context. For most of Pir II’s work, the context is the Norwegian mainland. As an architecture firm we try to have a holistic approach to environmental friendly buildings. In our work we often focus on reused or natural materials, flexible building systems, and energy efficiency.

Norway is an elongated country with several climatic zones. This means that our built environment must deal with temperatures ranging from -500C and up to +350C, with extreme variations throughout the country. The building industry in Norway is to a large extent conservative. We have strict building laws, which focus on detailed requirements and proven quantifiable solutions, instead of qualitative objectives.

Building Processes and the Architect’s Role There are some aspects of building that we as architects can control, and a whole lot we cannot. This means that not all of our ideas regarding sustainability can be implemented in our projects. The architect’s role is often limited, and because we rarely 175 have the authority to make decisions, we need to influence other participants the best we can. These interdiciplinary processes are both complex and important. We need to be fully aware of the architect’s limitations to create architecture, especially with regard to implementing a concept of sustainability. I want to discuss this framework, how it affects the design process, and the architectural outcome. I will present one of Pir II’s most recent projects as a case study. The project is


representative of typical private buildings in Norway.


The NINA Project The headquarters of NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) is located in Trondheim, Norway. The project was completed, and the client moved in to the building, in April 2013. The project started when NINA launched an invited architectural competition in 2008. Pir II’s proposal was the competition finalist, based on the following primary winning criteria: - A building with a high level of flexibility, which can adapt to NINA’s changing needs over time. - Focus on natural materials, supporting NINA’s image as an institute of nature research. - An ’environmentally friendly’ building, with low energy consumption. The building program consists primarily of offices and laboratories of different types. There are also secondary functions, such as a meeting center, canteen, storage spaces, training facilities, and wardrobes. The building concept is to split between the laboratories at the base of the building and the offices above. The base is an expressive concrete structure, inspired by an iceberg. The office building above is a simple wooden box, with a copper-clad ground floor containing the entrance foyer, canteen, library, and other common spaces. Flexibility and Natural Materials The NINA building consists of a steel frame

and concrete shafts for the stairs and elevator. There are approximately 5,000 massive wooden floor slab elements (size 1.2m x 4.8m) from the ground floor up to the roof. Most are exposed from underneath, so that the wood acts as an untreated ceiling with the ability to absorb both heat and moisture throughout the day. The slabs have a raised technical installation floor on top, providing full flexibility for electricity wires, data cables, and other technical installations. On top of the raised floor are light partition walls. They can easily be removed, moved, or supplemented, enabling the office layout to change over time. The outer walls are made primarily of wood with thick insulation (250-450mm). The cladding is of Kebony pine. In Norway there is a long history of building with wood. Even in modern buildings we use stud walls, joists, massive wood elements, and cladding on floors, walls, and roofs. Unfortunately, nowadays, there is a tendency toward using more and more steel and gypsum on Norwegian building sites. This is often due to strict fire regulations and sometimes due to cost considerations. Sadly, the architect is rarely the one deciding on these issues. The client’s construction manager often has a pragmatic attitude toward solving imminent challenges at the building site. They may meet the developer’s wishes, but they may prove to be less beneficial to the end user. It is becoming increasingly difficult to use wood in Norwegian buildings. However, we have noticed that this negative development can be counteracted when the focus is on LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) of carbon emissions

in a project, because no material can compete with wood when it comes to carbon emissions. It is a material locally produced, readily available, and with significant ecological benefits. Energy Consumption and Ventilation Systems The ventilation of the NINA building is a conventional balanced system, with heat exchangers and heat recovery. To help reduce the energy used to power fans and cooling appliances, the system is connected to motors on specific windows in the office spaces. In this way the warm office air can be flushed out automatically at night time. This helps cool down both the air. inside and the thermal mass of the building, without the use of energy. Even though we do not have measured data yet, the building is calculated to have a significantly lower energy consumption, compared to a conventional Norwegian office building. The Norwegian building law states that energy demand of new office buildings should not exceed 150 kWh/m2 of net energy. The NINA building energy demand is estimated at 70.7 kWh/m2 , or less than 50% of a conventional office building. There was a recent development in the Norwegian building law favoring airtight passive houses supported by active ventilation systems. As a result, many researchers expressed skepticism toward the indoor air quality of airtight buildings. Nevertheless, Norwegian laws and regulations continue to favor questionable technical solutions of which we have not yet seen the full impact of.

What we have seen though, is that our clients are reluctant to pay extra for experimentation with new and untested solutions. This means that we have to invest our own time, if we want to experiment with alternative systems, e.g., natural ventilation systems. On the other hand, we have worked with clients who have 177 brought to the project higher aims concerning the sustainability of the building, which is for



us a better point of departure.


Energy Consumption and Exterior Solar Shading The Norwegian climate, like most climates around the world, require cooling of conventional office buildings during the warm seasons of the year. Also, to avoid solar gain, the standard solution is to install

exterior blinds. In Norway, calculating the total energy consumption of a planned building is the responsibility of the HVAC consultant. Lacking a holistic approach to building design, HVAC consultants rely too often on excessive use of exterior blinds. In spite of automatic control systems, the blinds tend to go down too early and up too late. This results in noise disturbance and a reduction of the amount of daylight in the working spaces. To avoid this conservative solution at NINA, we developed a concept for an exterior shading. In collaboration with an energy consultant, 3D-modeling and computer simulations, we found the correct physical form to avoid the afternoon sun entering the building during working hours. We reduced the need and cost for blinds, and increased natural daylight in the working spaces. The exterior shades have also become a characteristic feature of the building design. This is an important outcome, as it has attracted attention from entrepreneurs, architects, planning authorities, and developers, hopefully becoming a reference point for similar solutions in other projects in the future.


Built Projects as ‘Role Models’: A Framework for Future Projects I think that the NINA project succeeded at several levels. From the feedback we received from the client - the NINA organization - the client is happy with their new headquarters, especially with the energy efficiency aspects of the building. The organization staff is also very happy with their new workplaces, to

the point that they have started to call it the ’NINA-house,’ instead of the ’NINA-building.’ They refer to the feeling that the building gives, as being more of a ’home’ than the headquarters of an organization. They feel a level of comfort and connection to their place of work, similar to how they feel at home. It is also extremely satisfying to receive feedback from fellow architects who use the NINA project as a model and reference when presenting successful possibilities to their clients.

to apply our professional commitment at any given moment, and at any given opportunity. But for now, it is up to all of us to do as much as we can, the best we can. 179

I find in the NINA building inspiration and ideas for our future projects. The project has come a long way since it began in 2008, particularly with regards to building materials and energy use, although some of the conventional building methods could have been improved. We have also realized the challenge of incorporating the production of energy in our buildings. One way to counteract the recent developments with regard to building regulations and proven solutions, is to increase our knowledge of these solutions. This way, architects can affect the process for an interim period, until enough built projects can affect the rigid building laws of today. If we want to create both contextual and more sustainable buildings, we need to increase our influence and involvement in the building process. In order to do that successfully, we need to acquire new and accumulated knowledge, we must learn to assume responsibility and leadership, and




1. Second—year studio work titled ‘Living in the City’ with tutors Architect Ifat Finkelman and Architect Barak Pelman, at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem (Courtesy of Barak Pelman and Ifat Finkelman)

Barak Pelman (Israel) Architect graduate from Tel Aviv University, Helsinki University of Technology and the AA in London. Lecturer at the Architectural Department of Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem.

Barak Pelman 181


Sustainability: An Intrinsic part of architectural design? Barak Pelman


an concepts of sustainability fundamentally change the way architects design? Can they be fully integrated into the architectural core discourse? Or is it just another set of criteria and rules that is better left for experts and addressed simply by implementing the right technologies? In the past few years, I have been closely observing the contemporary practice of sustainable architecture in Israel and abroad to find answers to these questions. I have come to the conclusion that, thus far, the majority of architects have adopted only the more superficial and convenient concepts of sustainability – those which do not fundamentally change the way they practice architecture. In the following pages, I will offer three explanations for this, and I will suggest an approach to reverse the current trend. We Like the Way We Live and We don’t Want to Change it In 2011, 64% of families in Israel had at least one car. The size of the average Israeli home has increased steadily since the 1970s. 99.9% of all families in Israel have a refrigerator, 95% have a washing machine, and 93% own a cellular phone. 81% of Israeli homes have an air conditioner, 88% a television, and 78% a computer. This living standard is incomparable to that of fifty years ago. The drive to improve living standards is shared by most economies, and it is a major cause of the current environmental crisis. Because housing and infrastructure are strongly related to the standard of living, architecture

plays a key role in this process. Should we strive to lower our living standards for the sake of an improved environment? Admittedly, it is extremely difficult for many of us to even consider such a change. Should we rely on financial forces to encourage the 183 construction of more efficient buildings? Apparently, this seems not much easier. As Garrett Hardin famously suggested in ‘The Tragedy of the Commons,’ the free market financial structure does not offer any incentives to maintain common resources. Quite the contrary. The system reinforces focus on immediate and individual benefit, even at the expense of the common good and long—term sustainability of the environment. This market failure might explain the recent growth in regulation activity, aiming to encourage the building industry to produce more efficient buildings. Focusing on energy consumption, for example, the European Union 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires energy consumption in all new buildings to be ‘nearly zero’ by the end of 2020. However, it is difficult to see how such topdown generic rules will significantly change the way architects design, because these are normally accepted as parameters external to design — constraints to be considered, yet not central in the process. Therefore, sustainability is commonly conceived and practiced by many architects only as a technical effort to maintain our

(unsustainable) standard of living with the lowest resource and pollution cost. The Rise of Rating Tools 184

Sustainability as a concept, evokes much confusion. In particular, because there is a lack of agreement on questions such as, ‘What should we sustain?’ and ‘To what extent?’ This confusion leads to multiple interpretations and approaches to sustainability. Some thinkers, for example, promote the rights of living creatures, while others focus on whole ecosystems. Some care about the next generation of citizens, while others emphasize environmental justice among people living today. These approaches are divided further with regard to what ought to be considered ‘best practices’ and the long—term benefit of these solutions. In the field of construction, this confusion was the contextual background for the development of ‘green building rating tools’. For example, the American LEED and the British BREEAM, which started to penetrate into the architectural practice in the mid 1990s. By providing measurable sets of criteria for different aspects of sustainability, these rating tools cleared some of the confusion and built a consensus of what sustainable architecture might be. As a result, they delivered on a promise to create a strong architectural response to the notion of sustainability. Nevertheless, in spite of their popularity, and their adoption as mandatory standards

in some communities, it seems that these rating tools do not fundamentally change architectural practice, and too many buildings that were awarded rating recognition do not reveal any significant difference in architectural design or thinking. One possible reason could be related to the centrality given to technological innovations by most rating tools, possibly due to their development in close collaboration with the industry. The result is that many ‘green’ credits can be gained simply by installing the right technologies. To illustrate this, consider the many cases of fully glazed officebuildings that were awarded recognition as ‘sustainable,’ despite the fact that their facades contributed neither to the quality of the internal environment needed for officework, nor to embodied and operational energy consumption. Examples like this could lead one to think that any building can be ‘green’ as long as it is equipped with the right technologies. As a result, architectural design does not seem to play a central role in achieving sustainable goals. Architects Are Skeptical About it Attempts to mitigate the effect of buildings on the environment by imposing regulations and developing incentives, are normally perceived by architects as constraints on their freedom of expression. The reason might be related to the limited capacity of these general measures to address the individual

case, as they must aim at a certain common denominator. In the same manner, developing rating tools as an incentive to promote the design of sustainable buildings fails to inspire architects to rethink their practices. This leaves sustainable design with a limited architectural vocabulary, and as a result, with a small percentage of designed or built examples. There is a general skepticism with regards to the potential of the architectural expression of sustainability. As the environmental thinker and architect Ken Yeang once put it: ‘If you build in the performance well, you almost have to build the diagram…if you build the diagram then it works, but it is also boring….’ Is There Any Hope? Reflection on the issues discussed above suggests that the solution to the problem of sustainable design should be looked for in the broader cultural context of our time. Kenneth Rexroth analyzed the old cultureversus-nature conflict in his introduction to Community and Privacy (1963) in the following way: ‘Nature makes man. Man makes culture. Culture makes man. Man destroys nature.’ Because architecture, by definition, finds itself within the ‘culture camp,’ architecture will only integrate sustainable concepts to the extent that culture integrates them. Nevertheless, this does not mean that architects should be passive, while sustainability becomes culturally integrated. They should lead the debate on how sustainability should shape our lives and

buildings. Indeed, in the past few years we have witnessed increasing architectural activity taking up this challenge. From the urban scale to the single building, more and more architectural research and experimentation is looking at ways in which architectural and urban design can address 185 issues of sustainability, without relying solely on technological implements. However, as argued above, regulations and incentives, like rating tools, can offer very little in facing the challenge, experimentation in sustainable design could be based on the fundamental level of sustainability thinking, maybe even to the extent of offering new insights on possible ways of living. Academic institutions, having a certain degree of immunity to the market forces that shape our cities and buildings, should also play a leading role. Architects are really faced with a challenge: If the discipline of architecture fails to properly address the current trends of sustainable thinking, it is likely that new environmental legislation will equip engineers with the specialization to monitor new requirements. Thus, further endangering to reduce the role of architects in defining the shape of our physical world.


1. Detail of main entrance of the National Observatory of Athens. Design team: Zerefos Tessas Architects, V. Ganiatsas, C. Stavropoulou, G. Pavlopoulos, M. Xatzinikolaou, T. Antonakaki, E. Nikolaides (Photographer Erieta Attali) 2. Front facade of the National Observatory of Athens. Design team: Zerefos Tessas Architects, V. Ganiatsas, C. Stavropoulou, G. Pavlopoulos, M. Xatzinikolaou, T. Antonakaki, E. Nikolaides (Photographer Erieta Attali) 3. Refurbished interior decorations of the National Observatory of Athens. Image to the left: View before the interventions. Image to the right: Views after the refurbishment (Photographer George Pavlopoulos) 4, 5. Photorealistic rendering of the refurbishment proposal for the facades and the piazza of the Municipal Theater of Corfu. Design team: Zerefos Tessas Architects, I. Armeni, T. Bristogianni, A. Kokkini, K. Hatzopoulos (Courtesy of Zerefos Tessas Architects) 6. Night view of the main entrance of the Theater from the newly designed piazza between the Theater building and the Prefecture building. Design team: Zerefos Tessas Architects, I. Armeni, T. Bristogianni, A. Kokkini, K. Hatzopoulos (Courtesy of Zerefos Tessas Architects) 7. Section, showing the environmental design proposal for the Municipal Theater of Corfu.

Design team: Zerefos Tessas Architects, I. Armeni, T. Bristogianni, A. Kokkini, K. Hatzopoulos (Courtesy of Zerefos Tessas Architects) 8, 9. Environmental refurbishment and addition of new spaces for the 1st High School and 31st Secondary School of Thessaloniki. Top image: Existing condition. Middle image: refurbishment proposal. Bottom image: Longitudinal section showing the bioclimatic operation of the atrium during the heating season. Within the framework of ECOWEEK 2011 in Thessaloniki design workshop led by Zerefos Tessas Architects. Workshop team: S. Derizioti, S. Karagianni, Y. Kladopoulos, O. Kyritsi, G. Liokas, D. Neroutsou, D. Petrous (Image ECOWEEK) 10. Existing warehouse at the Academy of Plato (Courtesy of Zerefos Tessas Architects) 11. Up.Re.Info Center: Reuse and refurbishment of a neglected warehouse. Within the framework of ECOWEEK 2011 in Athens design workshop led by Zerefos Tessas Architects. Workshop team: D. Frantzi-Gounari, M. Alexandridi, K. Chadio, F. Kounas, E. Malapani, A. Maragoudaki, K. Mountanea, A. Lazou (Image ECOWEEK)

Stelios Zerefos, Chris Tessas (Greece) Zerefos Tessas Architects Engineering Consultants is an award-winning firm founded in 2005.

Zerefos Tessas Architects 187



Reuse and Refurbishment as an Ecological Approach to Architectural Design Stelios C. Zerefos and Chris A. Tessas


he dilemmas regarding the reuse of old buildings, as opposed to demolition and new construction, are not new or novel. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and need to be evaluated on a case-by-case scenario, based on multiple socioeconomic factors. However, the conjunction of climate change and failing economies could constitute a decisive factor when making these choices. Over the last eight years, our office has developed a design approach centered around the reuse and refurbishment of existing buildings - a practice, which is by definition, ecological. Until recently the evaluation of refurbishments and the reuse of existing buildings was influenced primarily by their aesthetic merit, their historical importance, and their economic feasibility. Sustainability, as an evaluation factor, was only added recently, primarily due to the fact that the building sector is trying to save resources by any means possible. The concern regarding our responsibility for long—term climate change and the realities of the current economic crisis have favored refurbishing and reusing, as opposed to demolishing old buildings for new construction. In our practice we believe that the reuse of a space is a responsible and sustainable approach to architectural design. Significant resources can be saved (structural system, materials, partitions, stairwells, etc.) and building waste reduced, when compared to new construction. Similar to the recycling of products, the reuse of buildings is a significant way to reduce carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the recycling of a building offers an opportunity for passive and active retrofitting that might dramatically reduce its energy consumption. In view of the above, the main concern that influences the way we design is the 189 degree of the interventions that an existing building is susceptible to, as well as the factors that promote its energy optimization. The relationship of the building to the city, the building program, and its historical or architectural interest are all factors that influence the range of interventions. We classify them into three categories. We will try to identify the relationship among them. Category 1: Buildings of Historic Interest The preservation of the historic National Observatory of Athens, designed by Theophilus Hansen (1813-1891) and completed in 1846, was to be adapted as the Museum of Geo-astrophysics. The new museum was inaugurated in 2008. The project had distinct challenges, because the building had to be restored, along with its furnishings, and no new equipment should be added. The historic value of the monument dominated all other concerns: from redesigning the external spaces, to the repair of structural elements and decorative details. The infrastructure, dating from the nineteenth century, significantly restricted the range of possible environmental interventions. Nevertheless, in spite of these limitations and the project budget, we




managed to reduce electric consumption by 35%. We achieved this through new energy — conscious lighting design. In addition to the use of ecological paints on the exterior surfaces, no toxic chemicals were used in the careful maintenance and repair of all historic furniture. Due to the environmental choices in the conservation and adaptation, the project was awarded the prestigious Europa Nostra Prize for the category of building conservation in 2010. Category 2: Buildings of Architectural Interest It is not unusual to have a difference between the architectural intentions of an architect and the public perception of the design. Some buildings by the finest architects become

unloved by the public and the users. This was the case of the Municipal Theater of Corfu. It was designed in 1965 pro-bono by the distinguished Greek architect Pericles Sakellarios (1905-1985) and inaugurated in 1974. Since then, the building was unloved by the public in Corfu. In 2010 a national architectural competition was arranged for the renovation of the facades of the Theater. The competition brief aimed to change the building into one ‘which could be understood and loved by the local community.’ The first prize was awarded to our firm. We proposed to preserve the building’s architectural identity by utilizing elements of the existing facade to offer visual coherence to the project. The piazza In front of the Theater entrance was remodeled to ‘open’ the building to the city and make it more inviting. The competition brief required the regeneration of the existing building facades. We saw this as an opportunity to reuse the existing outer shell as a protective enclosure from external climatic conditions. Our proposal created an independent support system for the building envelope that provided insulation and natural ventilation. Moreover, a double skin enveloped the fly tower and provided natural ventilation for the




main Theater hall through the ‘stack effect.’ The building’s new functions are enclosed by new energy efficient glazing, shaded by fixed wooden shutters. These are designed to allow direct sunlight during winter, while preventing


it during the summer. An array of photovoltaic panels is hidden on the roof. It produces a substantial percentage of the energy needs for lighting the building.


Category 3: Abandoned Buildings with no Architectural or Historic Interest


The final category relates to buildings that have no historic or architectural interest, but which may have economic, social, or environmental benefits. Our curiosity for such buildings inspired our proposal to refurbish, reuse, and environmentally retrofit one such building, as a workshop theme for ECOWEEK in 2011 in Greece. Our team led two such workshops, the first in Thessaloniki and the second in Athens. The first example in Thessaloniki was High School 1 and Secondary School 31, built in 1978 of prefabricated elements. It was a temporary solution following a destructive earthquake. However, despite their temporary character, the schools are still in use unchanged. Our design proposed the addition of a single lightweight roofing system, which unifies the two existing buildings and connects them through an atrium. The addition transforms the building scale to one more compatible with the neighboring apartment blocks. The new spaces have direct access from the atrium, which helps to regulate the climate, adjusting the heat and ventilation depending on the external conditions. Strategically placed openings transfer the tempered air from the atrium to the building complex, thereby reducing energy requirements and providing a healthier indoor environment. The proposed green roofs also provide thermal insulation to the existing buildings and create



outdoor spaces for the children. The second project is the refurbishment of an abandoned warehouse situated at the Academy of Plato neighborhood of Athens. We proposed to reuse the building as an information and education center for upcycling, recycling, and to tell the history of the adjacent archaeological park. The conservation of the existing building envelope reduces the energy consumption and the building cost. A new metallic structural frame is introduced, which supports the building envelope, as well as two levels of prefabricated elements. Operable vertical wooden elements cover the facades and regulate the solar gain, daylight, natural ventilation, and passive cooling of the interior space. The roof of the building is covered with photovoltaic panels mediating direct

sunlight on the building and transforming it into electricity. Finally, the team proposed a traditional, yet innovative insulation solution for the existing walls: compressed newspapers offer a low-cost solution which considerably reduces the U-value and creates a lively and unexpected texture to the interior 193 of the building.






1, 2, 3. DEVEBERE, Biennale of Architecture, Venice (Courtesy of Maciej Siuda) 4, 5, 6. Rogozka Exhibition, Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw (Courtesy of Maciej Siuda) 7, 8, 9. School in Jacmel, Haiti (Courtesy of Maciej Siuda)

Maciej Siuda (Poland) Award-winning architect graduate of Wroclaw University of Technology and the University of Technology in Valencia. Co-creator of the international workshop IWAU. Teaches design at the Swietokrzyska University of Technology.

Maciej Siuda 195



Redefining Architecture Maciej Siuda


e live in an era of great changes. With modern technologies and global ideas adapting to local needs, we are closer than ever before before in realizing our dreams and the utopian visions of a sustainable life. As a global society we have the tools to discover, analyze, and understand human problems, needs, and desires. Yet we still have to find a responsible way to use these tools. Like the young generations before us, we believe that we have the opportunity to push the limits of Architecture and establish new models of living. We aspire to understand and redefine the current architectural debate. We need to discover the new forms, proportions, spaces, and functions necessary to change radically the way we see and think of Architecture. Fresh architectural hybrids need new methods of designing. For example, mixing improvisation with organization, local issues with global aspirations, intuition with planning, digital drawings with handmade models, individual talent with teamwork, and

an open exchange of ideas. I will present three recent projects, representing the outcome of our investigation toward new methods of design. Each of the projects has its own time constraints, site specific conditions, and architectural 197 program, giving birth to a particular unique design. DEVEBERE: Air, Waste, People Awarded the first prize by the French Society of Architects, and exhibited in Paris, Liege, and in the Museum of Modern Art in Wrocław, it was presented for the opening of the Biennale of Architecture in 2012. Context and work methodology: Realized in 10 months. 50% of time through online collaboration. 50% of time in four workshops using materials and waste (in Liege, Paris, Wrocław and Venice). An open project licensed by CC (Creative Commons). Authors are Rodrigo García, Maciej Siuda, and the workshop participants. From the chaos, the multitude of matters,


and from the mess of thoughts, beautiful, transparent, and useful ideas can emerge.


The DEVEBERE project may seem like just another interesting architectonic experiment. However, it is about more than just Architecture. The project illustrates how ideas seem to emerge from nothing. How an idea is born and how it can be developed. DEVEBERE is a story about playing with plastic bottles, with really serious consequences. We were looking for ways to reuse plastic bottles, and for beauty in waste. The DEVEBERE structure is made of recycled PET bottles, which are stabilized in a vault form by a vacuum hardened plastic bag. The structure is an abstract fantasy in semi-transparent form, which can be used as a pavilion, a shelter, as cheap furniture, or any other temporary use. DEVEBERE has no scale and no particular shape. It redefines itself every time it is built. It consists of two opposite parameters: permanence and transience. Raising questions such as: Should modern Architecture be timeless or temporary? Ephemeral or permanent? Further, DEVEBERE is about documenting



the creative process, which may be more important than the final form. Each time a random thought is shaped into form, as it remains light and simple, the form can change momentarily. The Story Behind ROGÓŻKA Exhibited at the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław, May-July 2013. Context and work methodology: A temporary office space was established inside the Museum for one month. During that time a project was developed from sketch and conceptual models to its final form. At the exhibition, a 24—meter table, like a time-line, presented the entire 30—day design process. The exhibition hall was redesigned and converted into a white, abstract container to form the background for the project. Design team: Katarzyna Dąbkowska, Adrian Wyparło, Łukasz Jagoda, Mateusz Sum, Tomasz Bojęć, Marta Zatoka and Maciej Siuda. Curator: Michał Duda Author: Maciej Siuda

expressed interest in buying it. The story caught the attention of the media nationwide, and the village was in the news. Finally, the businessman gave up on his plans, and Rogóżka was once again forgotten.


In January 2013 we were invited by the Museum of Architecture of Wrocław to prepare an exhibition about our work methodology. Instead of making an exhibition about our work, we decided to show literally the way we work. We moved our office for one month to the Museum, and in collaboration with artists, comics illustrators, architects, and visitors to the Museum we designed a completely new project project from sketch to the final stage of concept design development. The project was inspired by a story published in a Polish newspaper some years ago, which had no real ending. The story goes like this: Once upon a time in Poland there was a small village called Rogóżka. The villagers lived peacefully until the early 1980s when most of them moved to the big cities looking for a better life. Around 30 years ago the last villager left. With time the houses were demolished, and the village became an abandoned meadow in the middle of a forest. Then, an article appeared in the press that the local community put Rogóżka up for sale. Unexpectedly, a Polish businessman

The exhibition somehow completes the 199 unfinished story of Rogóżka. The project is a metaphor for vanishing Architecture, which has recently become a global issue. When village communities migrate to cities, images of empty houses left behind, crumbling communities, and deserted districts have become all too familiar, from China to Poland. Villages, because of their scale and proximity to nature and dependence on local resources and materials, are a perfect example of ‘green’ architecture. Yet they often fail to remain economically sustainable. The project aspires to understand the relationship of the fictitious micro-society, looking at issues of dimension, distance, proportion, and the shape of buildings. The project treats the house as a web of connections. An organism where moving one element changes the position of the others. It is a reflection on the impact of Architecture on human life in everyday situations.


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TWO WORLDS: Redefining the School School in Jacmel, Haiti. Implemented: 20132014 First prize at BAZA 2013, Award of the Society of Architects of Wrocław. Two groups of designers - a core work

group of architects in Poland, and a group of architects in Africa, Austria, and Spain, experts in architectural projects in developing countries who reviewed the project. External collaborators: Marlene Wagner,


Gonzalo del Val, Ruann van der Westhuizen, and Rodrigo GarcĂ­a. Authors: Kasia DÄ…bkowska, Marta Niedbalec, Ĺ ukasz Piasta, Kamil Rusinek, Jerzy Mazurkiewicz, and Maciej Siuda. Can thinking about the future of public buildings lead to an open Architecture? Is it possible, instead of designing for one specific non-changing function, to concentrate on the essence of a space and the possibilities of adapting it to different needs? TWO WORLDS creates a connecting passage between two courtyards of completely different character. The first is a sports ground with cricket pitches and a running track - noisy, open, and sunny. The second is a shaded, quiet, green garden conducive to contemplation and open-air relaxation. The interior of the building opens entirely to these two spaces. Individual classrooms are based on the simple C-shaped layout

arranged irregularly in various configurations. The open spaces between the walls form places for mingling and help to avoid the need for internal corridors. The layout encourages diverse forms of teaching. It is possible to combine classrooms with each other or to open them to the exterior, and 201 thereby modify the size of the student group. The rooms are enlivened with sunlight and natural ventilation. The classrooms have various layouts, depending on the character of the classes. Elementary classes have standard desk arrangements facing the teacher. Older students, where interaction between the participants is important, can rearrange the tables in groups. Because of this flexibility the school can serve as an educational facility throughout the day. In the morning it may serve as a school, in the afternoon for social meetings, and in the evening as a community hall for the local adult population.




1. Homeshell concept sketch (Photographer Andrew Partridge/Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) 2. The core of the DfM house is separated from the rest of the living space to provide efficient and flexible space (Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) 3, 4, 5. Oxley Woods (Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) 6. Construction Sequence - batons are nailed on to the structure, to hold the cladding panels (Photographer Miguel Santa Clara / Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) 7. Homeshell installation at the Royal Academy (Photographer Miguel Santa Clara / Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) 8. The Homeshell in the Annenberg Courtyard (Photographer Anna Au / Courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners)

Ivan Harbour (UK) Joined the award-winning firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (former Richard Rogers Partnership) in 1985 and was made a Director in 1993.

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Homeshell Ivan Harbour


n 2005, our firm entered John Prescott’s (then Deputy Prime Minister) Design for Manufacture competition, suggesting a new way of using prefabricated timber panels to build homes, a system that was first employed for the Oxley Woods development in Milton Keynes. Off the back of this successful residential scheme, loved by owners and critics alike, we continued to develop the methods of design and construction under the umbrella term of ‘Homeshell.’ Homeshell is, in its essence, a simple, modular approach to house building that can be tailormade to suit the needs of the owner and site, both in regards to internal layout and external appearance. It is constructed using a building system called Insulshell, developed by Sheffield Insulations Group (SIG) and Cox Bench. It is a low—energy, demountable, low cost, offsite approach to architecture, and

can be retooled for a huge range of different building typologies, such as schools, factories, retail developments, health centers, and even sports venues. The Velodrome at the London 2012 Olympics, for example, was constructed using this method. There are other massive benefits from adopting this method of construction over traditional building techniques. Homeshell units can be adapted for any location, as they require only shallow concrete slab foundations. This makes them perfect for sites in dense urban areas. This means we can encourage development around existing transport infrastructure, which greatly reduces the carbon footprint of those that live in the houses, and helps us to protect the green belt. The homes are also erected on site with incredible speed and efficiency. A typical three-story house can be assembled and made




watertight in 24 hours, while a six story, 24-unit block could be up and running in one month. This means less disruption, mess, and noise on site, always good for neighborly relations. By combining speed of construction with the fact it can be easily dismantled, Homeshell is


also eminently placed to develop temporary sites, on brownfield plots where development is not expected to proceed for a number of years. A Homeshell installation was constructed in the Royal Academy’s Annenberg Courtyard in August 2013, to coincide with the Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out exhibition, but also to provoke debate about how architectural and construction innovation together might help us meet the UK’s housing needs. Homeshell represents an evolution of the system developed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for Oxley Woods. We are continually working to hone and improve the environmental codes of the houses. We have the ability now to obtain Code Level 6 with this system, and we’re working with social housing providers, such as the YMCA, to ensure that energy savings are passed along to those that need to reduce their bills the most. Projects in Newham and Merton will take the Homeshell to new levels, as we create bigger apartment buildings.






We believe that by using sustainable timber stocks and ensuring the majority of the manufacturing process remains off site, Homeshell provides a viable solution for the UK’s housing needs, both in terms of demand and for the safeguard of the environment. It also provides opportunities for local jobs, as factories can be set up next to large-scale projects, with training provided to produce the panels, which then have the minimum possible journey to site. And why stop there? We can also build good quality schools, community centers and more, all with lots of light, space, and air. By saving time and money on the construction process we can concentrate on making sure buildings are designed to the highest possible standard, improving everyone’s environment.



1. Floor plan of Benny Farm before the renovations and densification (1946-47) (Courtesy L’OEUF) 2. Floor plan of 1992 for demolition of Benny Farm and increase in density (Author: Gauthier Guité Daoust Lestage, Architecture and Urban Design. Courtesy L’OEUF) 3. Idealized masterplan for Benny Farm (2001) (Courtesy L’OEUF) 4. Passive Active diagram for Green Energy Benny Farm (Courtesy L’OEUF) 5. Passive Active diagram for COOP Coteau Vert (CCV) (Courtesy L’OEUF) 6. Change-Over-Time diagram for COOP Coteau Vert (CCV) (Courtesy L’OEUF) 7, 8. Benny Farm (Photographer Nikkol Rot HOLCIM) 9. Atelier d’Habitation Saine (AHS) in Rosemont (Photographer Nikkol Rot HOLCIM)

Daniel Pearl (Canada) architect, co-founder of L’OEUF (l’Office de l’Eclectisme Urbain et Fonctionnel) focusing on sustainable architecture, communal housing, and institutional projects. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the most valuable and dedicated work of my co-founding partner Mark Poddubiuk, who played some of the most important roles in both the Benny Farm and Rosemont projects, and the key roles carried out by my partners, Bernard Olivier and Sudhir Suri, at Benny Farm and more recently with Bois Ellen. All of the projects mentioned in the following pages are the result of a team-effort of countless dedicated employees over many years.

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‘Benny Farm’: Theory into Practice Daniel Pearl Benny Farm: The History Benny Farm was built as a new housing development for WWII veterans and their families in 1947. It is one in a series of 12 of such postwar projects built across Canada by the Canadian federal government. Incorporating the ideals of the garden city, Benny Farm was a controversially dense project in 1947, and for other reasons, it has remained controversial to this day. The seven-hectare tract of farmland for the Benny Farm in the former western part of Montreal was purchased in 1946. Sixty-four buildings, a total of 380 apartments - threestory walk-ups with wood stud framing, brick veneer with no elevators or air conditioning - were built. During the 1950s and 1960s a generation of children grew up happily in the tightly knit ‘village’ of Benny Farm. However, by the early 1990s the average age of the residents had risen to 70 years. Most of the buildings had fallen into modest disrepair, many due to neglect or poor maintenance. Living in the buildings had become increasingly difficult for some of the elderly residents, and as a result many of the buildings were vacated, or worse, abandoned. 1991-92: The Question of Redevelopment


The complex was built by the Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs and later managed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is a paramunicipal government agency. In 1990 CMHC announced plans to raze the homes

and redevelop the site. At first this seemed a progressive decision intended to build better residences. The plan was to move the seniors into new mid-rise buildings to be erected on one—third of the site. The remaining land would be cleared of the remaining buildings and then sold to finance the project. The 211 proposed master plan showed some 1,200 new residential units in a number of six-story condominium buildings, the maintenance of which would be prohibitively expensive for the current residents. This model, redevelopment by privatization, was calculated as being the best use for Benny Farm, with the highest return. Indeed, such was the conclusion at the time, as a responsible precedent to apply to similar public housing properties across the country. The CMHC proposed master plan would mean the end of the Benny Farm community. It would destroy a social network that had grown over nearly half a century. A community which had been a part of the city’s history and soul. It would also mean a shift of important residential property from public into private hands, representing a loss to lessaffluent sectors of society. The plans were hotly debated, and the threat of demolition in1991 triggered strong public outcry among residents of the city, who envisioned a different future for Benny Farm. This marked the start of a 13-year battle over the future of Benny Farm with two clear choices: either a restored and upgraded public and non-profit housing development or a private development.



Significance of Benny Farm Preserving the buildings at Benny Farm was a fundamental premise, because the residential complex is significant in a number of ways: socially, socioeconomically, historically, symbolically, urbanistically, and environmentally. Wholesale demolition of the buildings and redevelopment of the site, as originally proposed, would have permanently erased most of these important urban attributes, with no justifiable compensation in return. Benny Farm is a veritable institution in Montreal, a part of the public consciousness.

As a very large sub-community for more than 60 years, it is indelibly anchored in the minds of thousands of community members. This once-proud place has been home to multiple generations, a heritage that deserves to be respected and preserved. Places such as Benny Farm are what make cities unique and urbane. They represent the best of Urban Living. The buildings themselves are not architecturally significant but are valuable nonetheless. The ribbons of brick facades define amazing green spaces. As a fragment



of the garden city, the overall complex has always been an urban amenity. A distinctive and special place within the city. It is one of the rare places where public-private and semi-public-semi-private spaces exist, promoting healthy social intercourse in the neighborhood. Parents can watch their children collectively. These types of outdoor spaces make the garden city a valuable model to nurture — they provide a perfect balance between open green space and residential density. Benny Farm is also an icon of its social mission — affordable housing. This is as urgent and important today as it was in 1947.

Transferring the entire site into private hands would be a regrettable lapse of responsibility and possibly an affront to local pride. Saving the old buildings also has environmental advantages which are modest but significant. Much of the physical fabric and many old buildings of Benny Farm have been reasonably well maintained. The buildings do not meet modern codes and standards, but they are fundamentally sound structures. Renovation and an upgrade would cost much the same as new construction. Discarding usable buildings and replacing them with



new ones is a waste of natural resources and, energy, and although this was not the driving force behind the project, it was a legitimate and tangible benefit. An Alternate Experimental Vision In 1997, CMHC sold Benny Farm to the Canada Lands Company (CLC), which manages, redevelops, and/or sells strategic government properties across Canada that are no longer required for their original purposes. Regional manager Jim Lynes saw an opportunity to seek a better solution. He set up a task force and initiated a design ideas competition for redeveloping Benny Farm with an emphasis on social responsibility. By 1998, 20% of the buildings had already been demolished, and the seniors had been moved to the south-east corner, representing about one—quarter of the overall site. In 1994 L’OEUF proposed a master plan for the entire Benny Farm site that included new buildings, renovations, and additions. The plan retained the attributes of the garden city

and featured a marvelous central square, in the Dutch tradition. The community coalition, including local community activists and nonprofit groups, tried to purchase the entire site to lead a community redevelopment plan. When the coalition failed to raise all of the money in time, the dream was shattered for many. Seeing it as the end of Benny Farm, a majority of the activists who had been engaged since 1992 capitulated in 2000. Some new ones joined, replacing those who had contributed so much. The original activists had taught the others social activism and in the process burned themselves out, struggling with the unending frustrations of funding, deadlines, and politics. L’OEUF stood in and fought for the project throughout. We too were somewhat burned out by our own personal investment. Though we were taught in school to not get ‘too involved’ with our projects, seeing just how much these megaredevelopments affect their communities, it became impossible to stay emotionally detached. The new plan would have been impossible



without activism. The ideas competition led to a new master plan that called for renovating 35% percent of the old buildings. The density would be fittingly lower than 1,200 units, and a good social mix could be achieved where 75% of the all units were to be either affordable housing or social housing. With a workable alternative plan in hand, the total demolition of Benny Farm, as planned in 1992, was finally stopped in 2003. An exciting pilot project within the larger redevelopment, called Greening the Infrastructure of Benny Farm was initiated by L’OEUF and various non-profit clients and technical resource groups in 2003. It combined neighborhood improvement, social consolidation, green rehabilitation, and new affordable housing. Sixty existing housing units were to be renovated, and 127 new units constructed on four properties. All units were to be linked to a common energy, water, and waste infrastructure, the ownership and management of which was to be handled by the nonprofit, community—run utility company Green Energy Benny Farm

(GEBF). The development was to have a small carbon footprint, significantly lower water consumption, a wastewater management system, and waste reduction through retrofitting, reuse, and waste diversion. L’OEUF’s proposal was not adopted as originally designed (see idealized plan). However, its intent was significantly respected, and triggered debate strongly influencing the final master plan that was ultimately adopted. A total of 12 housing projects, four of which were handled directly by L’OEUF, and three of which L’OEUF designed in collaboration with other offices, were built. L’OEUF’s proposals raised the bar and challenged the chosen designs to be as ‘green’ as possible. The community coalition did manage to build approximately 570 units of affordable housing on the Benny Farm site in new and rehabilitated buildings. These provided opportunities for rental and first-time home ownership for low—income families unable to afford market prices. These groups included the elderly, people with special needs, single mothers, and low- and

moderate-income families. A land trust model was envisioned to keep the units affordable for future generations, but it proved too complex, given Quebec’s civil code. 216

(AHS). This project of 155 housing units included two housing groups: Cooperative Le Coteau Vert and the non-profit group Un Toit Pour Tous. The results of these test cases have been positive so far.

Lessons learned from Benny Farm Readjusting and Retooling ‘Passivhaus’ and Resilience


Planning affordable, collective housing, which is as ‘green’ as possible, is a complex challenge and requires a broad range of stakeholders and consultants with a commitment to shared values and interests. • Benny Farm, the first pilot project where many ideas of sustainability were tested, showed us that the capacity of participants to volunteer their time and effort is by far the most challenging issue. • The knowledge and transparency of the affordable housing construction sector and their ability (or inability) to quickly adapt, is the second critical challenge. • Next is the policy of existing subsidy programs. Almost all programs require immediate or short—term energy savings. Programs which ensure long term growth and loose fit (where built-in resilience is prioritized) enabling unpredictable change over time, are often simply not eligible for subsidies. Atelier d’Habitation Saine (AHS) All of these lessons were considered when planning the second pilot project in Rosemont, Montreal, called Atelier d’Habitation Saine

The experiment at Rosemont (AHS) prioritized the following four themes: • The client representatives were kept at the heart of the decision—making process right from the outset. This was made possible by the Technical Resource Group (Bâtir Son Quartier), some City of Montreal officials, and key professional consultants who worked closely together from day one. See the accompanying graphics which illustrate the process. • We reduced our dependency on specialized sophisticated equipment (compared to Benny Farm) to ensure less complex long— term maintenance. The critical scale, at which maintenance becomes cost effective, is around 150 residential units. It is rare to find affordable/social housing projects of this scale. AHS searched for a balance between low-tech passive solutions (cross ventilation and passive solar gains) with high-tech complementary systems (centralized geothermal energy). • We sought ways to be less dependent on an active board administration to handle short, medium and long—term decisions. Although the project was less time consuming than Benny Farm, it still required a substantial effort by the housing organizations - too much in the eyes of some. • We focused on the future growth of the community. The planning of the long—term

project infrastructure and holistic thinking helped the design’s resilience by enabling future green strategies to be easily added over time. Our design team was encouraged that the affordable housing construction process has improved, because of what we learned at Benny Farm. Current energy use, after nine months of third—party monitoring, has shown the COOP Coteau Vert uses less than half the energy of a typical housing project in Quebec (about 100 kWh/m2 versus a provincial average of 230 kWh/m2). Bois Ellen in Laval, Quebec: Ideas We Are Exploring For Our Next Pilot Project Few projects have as dedicated a client representative team as AHS. The project also has a committed consultant team. A major step toward a low—tech, low maintenance design, based on the ‘Passivhaus’ is being explored in L’OEUF’s next pilot project, Bois Ellen. This is an urban housing project of 166 units, mostly for independent seniors. Significant investment is going into both the building envelope and passive design. The project should require substantially less management by the housing cooperatives, while they should enjoy excellent thermal comfort, with long—term energy savings and reduced building envelope maintenance. The ‘Toward Passivhaus’ approach includes a measure of resilience that we rarely, if ever, see in affordable housing, and this would be important to monitor and compare with the earlier pilot projects at Rosemont

(AHS) and Benny Farm. Construction started in November 2014, it was completed in September 2016, and highly advanced onsite testing will be used to guide the monitoring process. Future Studies at L’OEUF and at University 217 of Montreal Reviving Dormant Urban Eco-Tones while Compacting and Rejuvenating Existing Neighborhoods Current Context Existing North American cities have aging physical infrastructure. Furthermore, their ecological footprint far exceeds our planet’s abilities to sustain them. One of the finest opportunities for the extensive renewal of the infrastructure and quality of urban life is by increasing the density of contaminated, abandoned tracts, and suburbs. They were mostly built in the 1950s and ‘60s, with their neighboring industrial belts circling the inner city cores. Most of these older suburban communities have not yet been upgraded with massive investments in infrastructure. Ironically, because these upgrades/mistakes have not yet been made, we have an opportunity to make a contribution. Hopeful Practice: Searching for a Balance Improving the socioeconomic and ecological footprint of the suburbs is among the most challenging tasks facing planners in Canada today. Montreal has rich, diverse cultures,

an undulating topology, and eclectic neighborhoods which coexist in close proximity to one another.


Without the wholesale erasure of millions of hectares of low-density residential developments, we will need to urbanize large parts of suburbia. In addition, we will have to transform others into green belts, the habitat for restored biodiversity or intense urban agriculture to provide food locally. Underutilized sites abandoned by industry are polluted, fragmented enclaves and have great potential, because they are inexpensive. These sites often border neighborhoods or public spaces which are already vibrant. It is easier to revive the physically rundown properties than to repair social dynamics and stigmas. At these ‘magical thresholds’ lie the potential for affordable rebirth, social diversity, much needed resilience, and tolerance. These are places to live, work, and play — where young urban agriculturalists can thrive side—by—side with artists and families, and in walking distance from a renovated ‘green’ industrial incubator. To take the biological parallel one step further, these urban thresholds, between distinct biological eco-zones have the richest biodiversity. Where two divergent contexts overlap they propagate both rare growths and a healthy degree of resilience to withstand the harshest tests. One such site in Montreal, also bordering an abandoned industrial belt, railway lines and low—density housing, faces these exact

challenges and opportunities. Petite Rivière is planned with a unique master plan, which can provide increased density, mixed use programming, renewed infrastructure, and increased public and green spaces. These spaces will nurture biodiversity and natural habitat regeneration. Referring to an intentional model called ‘Ecological Urbanism’ developed by The Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona (UEAB) and its director Salvador Rueda a decade ago, and as governments put forth national and provincial policies to finance efficient public transit, homeowners will be given a truly viable alternative to the car-strapped lifestyle of most suburbs. The new neighborhood Petite Rivière is being carefully designed to make a 70% ecological footprint reduction compared to the neighboring existing suburb. The intention is that it will be a practical and convenient neighborhood with a high quality of life, reinforcing the importance of ‘Urban Livability’. Located on an existing 57 hectare golf course, the goal is simple. This project envisions an urban fabric that strengthens community, provides a healthier quality of life, is economically viable, and restores nature. It is being designed according to One Planet Living standards, which includes Zero Carbon and Zero Waste by 2020, principles of walkability, mixed use, connectivity, compactness, regeneration, and community. More importantly, this project can become a transformative tool to revive the various neighboring problems beyond the site itself. The project is attempting to bring back an urban train stop, local commerce

and businesses, urban parks, and urban agriculture plots scattered throughout the site. The project will require courage and partnership from the public sector, as no private developer can take on the burden. Conclusion Our efforts to empower the community through collective housing projects have been fruitful, but at times exhausting. How can we reframe the revitalization of our aged inner city fragments? Some of the most important lessons we have been able to extract include the following: Encourage clients and stakeholders to intensively evaluate the dormant, inherent potential within and around their existing site/context. This ‘mining’ phase is defined as the pre-design phase, where the multidisciplinary design team is charged with the task of uncovering the synergistic potential and key leverage points of a context before doing any design work. Identify key financial partners and community stakeholders who can enable the project to be realized within a reasonable timeframe, while creating long—term partnerships that can ensure economic resilience and social cohesion.

The process must be holistic and inclusive, with transparent governance and enough resilience and redundancy to survive the roadblocks it will inevitably encounter. High quality design and the importance of both the quality and quantity of public spaces must be ensured from the outset; it must be part of the 219 base DNA of the restoration efforts. ‘Current city-wide infrastructure improvement and individual private market development, are not organized to directly reinforce each other. The making of public spaces such as the magical historical public spaces of Europe, and their resultant social cohesion, is the result of public / private partnership, where the responsibility of ensuring a sustainable equilibrium (on-site stability) is shared between and appropriated by all parties.’ (Quote Salvador Rueda) Stretching current practice will heavily depend on transforming how communities partner with their developers, where ethical city building and profitable rehabilitation suitably transect.

So What Are We Waiting for? Our cities need to show courage, vision, and leadership, because no private developer can enable such a redevelopment on their own. Sadly, the corollary is also true: Few cities can redevelop large swaths of urban fabric alone.



1, 2. Al Khan Al Ahmar Primary School (Courtesy of ARCò) 3, 4. Al Khan Al Ahmar Primary School Section (Courtesy of ARCò) 5. Al Khan Al Ahmar Primary School Floor Plan (Courtesy of ARCò) 6. Al Khan Al Ahmar Primary School Structure (Courtesy of ARCò) 7, 8. Al Khan Al Ahmar Primary School (Courtesy of ARCò)

Alessio Battistella (Italy) Architect, founder of ARCo group of engineers and architects, based in Milan. ARCo uses low—cost materials and sustainable techniques to develop particularly educational projects, in Palestine and Mozambique.

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Resilient Design - A possible approach to sustainable design in emergency contexts: A School in Al Kahn Al Ahmar, Palestine Alessio Battistella


It is possible to define ‘resilience’ as the capacity of an ecosystem or a social system to continue functioning despite arbitrary changes to the internal equilibrium. Social systems and ecosystems are resilient if they can survive great mutations. Resilience is fundamentally important when applied to the field of sustainable architecture. A new methodology to evaluate design could be based on understanding the resilience of a system. Borrowing the analogy of social and ecological systems, the resilience of a system in sustainable architecture increases when the dependence on external energy is reduced. The input of large amounts of energy may

increase the stability and minimize the fluctuations of a system, but it may reduce its resilience. A resilient system must be highly adaptable. This means ‘the capacity of social–ecological systems to adjust their responses to changing 223 external conditions and internal processes and thereby allow for continued operation along the current trajectory.’ Based on the above assumptions, we can summarize that ‘resilience is the tendency of a social–ecological system subject to change to remain within a stability range, continually changing and adapting yet remaining within critical thresholds.’






As architects we need to design tools which can guarantee the stability of a system through continuous changes in the physical and social context of our work.

local communities in construction and maintenance, and make sure the users take responsibility for their building by recognizing their own contribution in its architecture.

This definition becomes ever more critical when we operate in a context of social, environmental, and economic crisis.

The design approach of the ARCò group is cooperation in all our architectural projects. ‘Architecture and Cooperation’ may best illustrate how we approach these challenges.

Resilient design in this context can only be low-tech, because we cannot depend on a reliable supply of energy. I believe that low-tech solutions ought to be proposed in response to the challenges of sustainable development in all built environments. Not only in crisis situations, or only in the so — called developing world. Environmental sustainability must be measured not only in terms of the energy performance of a building, but in terms of its economic and social sustainability as well. It is important to keep costs low, involve

The point of departure for each project is always an actual need. It emerges during the first meetings and site visits. ARCò is interested in a sort of ‘architectural acupuncture,’ inspired by the ‘urban acupuncture’ proposed by Jaime Lerner. How to generate a succession of actions and reactions triggering a virtuous cycle. Architecture becomes the starting point of a system and creates the opportunities for possible evolution. The research is both urban and architectural



and aims at a degree of user comfort and a reduced use of environmental and financial resources. The budgets of the projects have always been low, but these limits have become opportunities for innovation and creativity. The extremely limited financial resources have led ARCò to experiment, and to try out new techniques, adapting and favoring construction methods which directly involve the population and encourage the sense of identity within the communities. ARCò is not a charitable organization. Unlike many international aid groups that disperse aid in third world countries or areas that have suffered environmental disasters, our work is motivated by research, which we believe needs to be done onsite and within real situations of crisis. It could be seen as ‘applied in-situ’ research. As part of this approach, appropriate

instruction manuals are created for each project. These are necessary instruments of communication facilitate working with people who don’t speak a foreign language and typically lack basic technical knowledge. We design a manual upon completion of a trial workshop led by ARCò group before reaching the crisis area. The goal is to graphically codify the essential information and transmit it to the members of the local community. To empower them with the understanding of each phase of the construction process. The idea of a manual is not new. A well-known excellent example is that produced by Enzo Mari: ‘Autoprogettazione?’ Mari raised the fundamental question about the management of the construction process as a way to share the design decision process. An example of this methodology is the school located in Al Khan Al Ahmar in the West



Bank. One of the most important aims of the Arcò group intervention was to guide the inhabitants, the builders, and coauthors of the school. This was made possible through a manual that was coherent and precise, and through the transmission of the project to the local community. It was not a simple challenge, but a high priority for Arcò group. The constraints we had to deal with were complex. The Palestinians have great difficulty obtaining building permissions from the Israeli authorities. This was one of the reasons for choosing a non-conventional material, so that it could not be defined as a ‘permanent structure’ by the authorities. Furthermore, speed and simplicity, minimum costs, and the use of local non-skilled manpower were critical. Lastly, the building had to address the extreme environmental conditions of the desert. These constraints inspired an innovative project that managed to address all of these

constraints — a school built with car tires. We chose used tires filled with desert sand for several reasons: They cannot only be constructed rapidly and simply, but they provide high thermal insulation and have compressive strength as well. Although bibliographic sources are limited for this methodology, we found enough inspiring examples to learn from. ‘Earthships’ were perhaps the first examples of buildings constructed with this technique. They were built in New Mexico under the guidance of architect Michael Reynolds. Reynolds’ ‘Earthships’ are comfortable buildings of passive solar design, with south-facing greenhouses, water recycling systems, and integrated renewable energy sources. Used tires were available in the West Bank at no cost. Tires are elastic and resistant to corrosion. Their internal woven iron threads make them durable and an ideal building material. The

reuse of a material typically destined for the landfill, or in this case, to be disposed to the open landscape or to be burned unchecked, is also important. The sand packed tires offered stability, compressive strength, and thermal insulation. Tires are stacked in overlapping layers as bricks, to form load bearing walls. The walls are plastered externally with a lime and clay plaster, which protects them from solar radiation. This prevents decomposition and release of any possible toxic gases to the interior of the building. The sandwich panel roof is laid on a structure of wooden beams, protecting the building from extreme external temperatures. Natural cross ventilation cools the roof in the summer.

The thermal mass of the walls reduces the internal temperatures in the summer and increases the warmth in the winter. The differential between interior and exterior temperatures can reach up to 10°C. The Arcò group built a building which 227 is resilient for both the building and the community. The building was built within the given political constraints, within budget, using readily available recycled materials and simple technologies. The construction was quick and simple. The building can be maintained by the community within their technical know-how and budget. The building stabilizes the interior environment and will hopefully provide the best possible conditions to allow the students to receive a better education.



1. Moabit West based on a cadastral map of the City of Berlin (Courtesy of SUSTAINUM) 2. Moabit West industrial and commercial zone (Photographer Jana Leoni / Courtesy of SUSTAINUM) 3, 4, 5. Students’ proposal ‘Moabit Connected by Water’ combines visible and invisible aspects of sustainable water treatment in urban areas in a system for collection, processing, storage, and reuse of rainwater and recycled water. (Courtesy of Helena Kyllingstad, Brooks Patrick, Laura Poskiparta, and Daniel Sandström) 6. ‘Rethink Arbeiterstadt 2050’: Students’ long—term vision for Moabit West: the strong corporate network creates synergies in all areas from waste heat to effective use of space (Courtesy of Mathias Burke, Mandy Held, and Luise Köhler) 7. ‘Rethink Arbeiterstadt 2050’: A vision for a sustainable industrial and residential area has been developed in order to maintain and enhance the environmental, economic, and social functionality of the neighborhood (Courtesy of Mathias Burke, Mandy Held, and Luise Köhler) 8. The project ‘Infilltrators’ proposes a new tram line, as well as the food-producing aquaponics center that give the area a striking

new appearance (Courtesy of Lena Flamm, Elke Geratz, Julien Schwindenhammer, and Polymenis Tsironas) 9. Map with the TOP 47 most effective, feasible, and comprehensive measures (Courtesy of SUSTAINUM) 10. Workshop discussion with the active participation of local companies enhanced the opportunities for the exchange of information and consultation (Photographer Jana Leoni / Courtesy of SUSTAINUM) 11. Public presentation for local stakeholders (Photographer Jana Leoni / Courtesy of SUSTAINUM) 12. Interactive public event with local stakeholders: ‘Project Speed-dating’ (Photographer Jana Leoni / Courtesy of SUSTAINUM)

Jana Leoni (Germany) Director of EcoCityLab, a partnership between the Technische Universitat Berlin and the EcoCityLab, a group of academics and students in landscape design, architecture, urban design, and urban planning.

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The ‘Green Moabit’ Urban District Development Concept in Berlin Jana Leoni Based upon a project description by Frieder Rock and Jana Leoni in: The ‘Green Moabit’ Urban District Development Concept. Green Moabit Summer Academy, release date December 2013. Project Credits Name of Project: The ‘Green Moabit’ Urban District Development Concept Location: West Moabit, Berlin, Germany Client/Contractor: City Borough Berlin-Mitte and the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment Project Management: SUSTAINUM Institut für Zukunftsfähiges Wirtschaften Project Area: 83 hectares Project Dates: 2011-2013 Financing: Program Urban Redevelopment West Total Project Costs: 230,000 EUR Number of People / Beneficiaries / Community Served by the Project: 8,900 residents and 10,000 employees. Planning Team: • UVE GmbH (material flow management – circular economy – recycling) • M.UT.Z Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH (energy – energy efficiency – contracting) • Nolde & Partner (innovative water management – contracting) • PROZIV Verkehrs- und Regionalplaner PartG (mobility – traffic/transport – logistics) • BÜRO BLAU – Beratung und Planung für Stadt und Land-schaft (public space – urban planning) • Reiner Lemoine Institut gGmbH (innovation transfer – scientific support – evaluation) • SUSTAINUM (project management, facilitating networks, environmental management – education and social affairs – CSR)


uring 2012 and 2013 I had the honor to be involved in the conceptual planning of the urban district development Green Moabit for Moabit West, Berlin’s largest inner-city commercial and industrial zone. The aim of the project was to analyze ideas for sustainable climate protection, develop policies based on our findings, and initiate specific steps to

implement these policies. Our team led the project, which involved local stakeholders — businesses, property owners, residents, and local government. This was a pilot project, the first of its kind in Germany, specifically dealing with the sustainable upgrade of a whole, existing industrial neighborhood. The Green Moabit project explored ways




of building networks among the local stakeholders. Particularly among the businesses, to generate ecological and economic synergies regarding energy, water, waste, transportation, education, and social affairs, and the creation and maintenance of public and private spaces. The objective was to brand and market the neighborhood as a climate-responsive, viable, inner-city commercial and industrial neighborhood, which offered an attractive, sustainable quality of life: Green Moabit.

Our team, SUSTAINUM, worked together with a team of experts in energy, water, waste, transportation/mobility, green spaces, environmental management, environmental education, and social affairs. We developed a master plan consisting of two different components to be implemented in two phases. In phase one, a feasibility study was completed in early 2013. It formed the basis for the overall concept. In phase two, an action plan was drawn, describing measures to be implemented by the public sector and




local businesses by the end of 2013. In the first stage, we analyzed local conditions and identified potential areas for intervention and improvement. We then designed a series of proposals in all of the aforementioned areas, which were graphically illustrated in a ‘vision map.’ In addition to the work of our planning team and the consultants, we invited participants in the International Summer Academy 2012, including students and young professionals, to suggest innovative

ideas and broaden the vision for the area of Moabit West. From the numerous proposals in the first stage, our team, together with the steering committee (made up of representatives from the Berlin Senate and district governments), selected the most effective, feasible, and comprehensive ideas for further study. As was expected, the implementation of many of the selected ideas challenged the team, because considerable financing, time, and labor were




required. Sadly, it soon became apparent that for many of the local businesses a return on investment was a more important goal than sustainability. Thus the key to our strategy required instituting a comprehensive communications process to ensure the participation of the local stakeholders. Only when the primary players in Moabit West were successfully persuaded and motivated to participate, could the proposals be properly understood and implemented. The results of the analysis and the preferred proposals were intensively discussed with the local players. We held informational events and presentations of


the project and communicated with the local business network. Progress reports were shared at public meetings. The interactive form of the public events, such as the world cafÊs, project speed-dating and the walkable landscape of Moabit West, significantly enhanced the exchange of information and consultation. Through these events the local stakeholders were introduced to the ideas developed during the planning process and invited to contribute, critique, and collaborate. This gave the stakeholders, particularly local businesses and utility companies, the opportunity to understand the project’s goals, express their own interests




and preferences, and actively participate in the decision making. Gaining the support of the local business community was clearly the most important step in the process. Thereafter, focus groups were formed to address individual projects with maximum impact.


An initial indication of the success of the project will be the implementation of the first proposals, immediately after the second planning phase was completed in 2013. Although I have not been involved in the project since August 2013, the project had a significant impact on my development as an urban planner, as it profoundly enriched my professional career. For me, it was a great experience working in an interdisciplinary team committed in the success of a the groundbreaking project Green Moabit. I take this opportunity to thank all the professionals involved in the project and in particular the project manager Frieder Rock, for the wonderful cooperation and the fun we had together.




1. Crisis and dismissed buildings (Courtesy of Orizzontale) 2. Public space and urban residues (Courtesy of Orizzontale) 3, 4. Public space and urban residues (Photographer Francesco Federico Natalucci) 5, 6. Crisis and dismissed buildings (Courtesy of Orizzontale) 7, 8, 9. Overcoming limits (Courtesy of OSA Architettura e Paesaggio)

Orizzontale (Italy) An architecture collective based in Rome, whose primary interests are reactivation processes and urban actions that help to redefine the heterogeneous fields that compound the public areas of the city.

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Challenging the Hidden Potential of the City Juan Lopez Cano and Nasrin Mohiti Asli


he space of the contemporary city is affected and shaped by shortening transformation cycles. The length of time that activities remain in a specific area is decreasing. The functions of buildings change rapidly, as city dwellers change their habits and their needs. The city and its architecture are not stable and permanent, but transient and dynamic. This tendency, which primarily affects the built environment, must affect the vacant or unbuilt spaces of the city, too. In a fluid urban scenario, public spaces continue to be the only place where common needs converge. Even if social interactions become more and more superficial, an infrastructure for chance encounters or organized mass protests is still required. Instant architectural devices, designed to be dismantled and moved, are an opportunity to meet changing needs. Like a shooting star, they have a short lifespan, but they are able to leave visible traces. Because working in public spaces is our way to confront the city, when we formed our architectural practice, we defined certain objectives. Orizzontale1 is an architecture collective based in Rome. Our primary interests are the reactivation of urban scrap. We have developed a method for urban intervention with places, ideas, and things rejected in the conventional productive cycle. With this as our raw material, we try to generate collaborative ‘public acts’ in the form of semi-permanent architecture or installations. In them, material and immaterial waste mutually restore

each other’s meaning. Since 2010, we have promoted projects helping people develop their relationships with public space, by giving form to both dismissed and unseen spaces of the city. These projects have become a new form of interaction between city dwellers and the urban commons, and an opportunity 239 to push the boundaries of architectural experimentation. Public Space and Urban Residues One intervention with transient fields was S.O.S.2 - Space Open Source. This was a semi-permanent, site-specific installation that we built with the participation of TXP3, a collective in Madrid, and the students of architecture of Università Sapienza of Rome. The site was located in a public garden in Centocelle (Rome), formed by a courtyard surrounded by a historic curved earth berm. The real challenge was the urban location, because the site lies between a residential neighborhood and ‘Forte Prenestino,’ a former military fort abandoned for decades. Over the past 25 years the fort has been reclaimed and restored by local residents. While the internal spaces of the fort are completely revived with intense cultural and social activities, the threshold spaces of the outer berm have been neglected and forgotten. Without a particular identity, the berm became an unsafe ‘no man’s land’ separating the city from the cultural center, rather than connecting it. The guiding principle of S.O.S was the idea that every obstacle creates an opportunity. The same characteristic that made the curved




berm an obscure place could be exploited to transform the site into an ‘all man’s land,’ a place for encounters and the community. After a brief confrontation with squatters who dwell in Forte Prenestino, and people from the neighborhood, the project took off. We filled the space with new structures and images. We built four similar, but different objects. Four bleachers (3x6 meters each) were built on the facing sides of the circular berm. Individually the bleachers are ‘relational machines’ facilitating meetings between passersby. The four bleachers also interact with the overall perceptive and symbolic qualities of the space, unifying it by suggesting the existence of a virtual amphitheater. Indeed, during


special events the four elements actually work as seating facing a small stage. At night a special lighting system, made of recycled spherical plastic beer kegs, keeps the space safe and wraps the installation in a dream-like ambience. Our aim at the time was to activate a synergy among different levels of waste which the city produces — from construction material, to the place itself (wasteland) and to the discontinued idea of a common (wasted ideas). Furthermore, we needed to limit the amount of physical interventions to the minimum, so as to preserve the place’s historical architectural qualities. We chose

to use a simple technology and asked the residents to help build the space themselves. We are convinced that the act of building and taking care of a space is a fundamental step toward building the community which will inhabit the space. Crisis and Dismissed Buildings Public spaces have not been our only subject matter. Buildings are abandoned and offer the potential to be rediscovered, exploited, and enriched. During September 2013, we worked in Biella, once the most important center of the wool industry in Italy. The industry has been in an economic crisis, forcing factories to abandon many productive spaces. The purpose of the Premio Maggia competition was to propose strategies for the social and economic renewal of Lanificio Sella. Habitat thinks about disused industrial structures as big ‘hosts’ able to contain many smaller architectural organisms. These organisms can be characterized by a shorter lifecycle and with less complexity. Borrowing from biology, the term ‘mutualism,’ which describes a specific symbiotic relationship between two species generally different in terms of dimension, lifecycle duration and complexity, we proposed a solution for the former factory. Because large functional conversion can’t solve the problems of our disused industrial heritage, we proposed experimentation with temporary and flexible functions. Using vacant spaces productively may help keep the cost of startup businesses

to the minimum and contribute to their success. The vision we proposed is an invasion of small and dynamic startups, which develop within the unused industrial complex in a ‘mutualistic relationship’ full of reciprocal 241 benefits. Within a favorable environment these small structures may rapidly increase, link up, subdivide, create new networks, and eventually help the host company overcome the crisis.



Overcoming Limits


Working in contemporary cities implies, in many cases, overcoming the limits that urban life impose on us. Walls and barriers are built to protect public spaces, yet often deny the citizens their right to free and open access of these spaces. As architects, we are entrusted to identify this affront and restore public access. This was the core concept of our installation for ECOWEEK Rome5. The site of the intervention was in the Valle Aurelia neighborhood in Rome, and more specifically, the village and the garden Giardino del Maresciallo along the Via di Valle Aurelia. The place has an unusual history. Established at the beginning of the twentieth century, the town became a center for the production of building bricks, because of several massive kilns in the area. In the mid 1970s the village (Borghetto) was almost completely demolished, and the inhabitants were moved to nearby social housing towers, built within the ‘local plan’ of social policy Valle Aurelia. The demolition of most of the old buildings left an urban void, a green area which today lies abandoned and semi-privately owned. The upheaval weakened the social cohesion of the community and erased its identity. Among the project’s goals was also to stimulate and promote the exchange between local inhabitants and workshop participants. After discussing the obstacle (material and immaterial) which inhibits this relationship, we decided to create a new temporary entrance to Giardino del Maresciallo. We called it UP.

UP is a staircase made entirely of recycled materials, mostly wood and MDF panels, salvaged by the group from different cultural institutions in the city of Rome. At a certain point, the sidewalk, bordered by a high brick wall, is interrupted by the staircase. Usually, a fracture is perceived as a discontinuity. But in our case, UP resolved the difference in height of about three meters, and invited the passers by to go up and to look over the wall to the garden. The garden, transformed by our team, was enriched with new installations for seating and play. In addition, new signage painted on the sidewalks leads to the park. Together with a temporary photographic exhibition, the space was renewed and made available and temporarily accessible to the community. Playing with Sustainability These projects illustrate how our work addresses the issue of sustainability. Though occasionally we need to use new resources to transform the urban environment, we prefer to work with the existing and forgotten infrastructure. By adapting scraps, we build architectural projects, albeit temporary, that meet an immediate need of all city dwellers — a need that traditional design cannot achieve with great agility. We have chosen to work with the transient, because it implies reversibility, and it leaves the possibility of restoring a site to its original state. This is an attempt to reduce land consumption, just another critical issue of contemporary urban sustainability. Ultimately,




architecture exposes the infinite opportunities of intervention and how efforts to preserve urban structures are contrived and meaningless. The city is a vastly complex entity that reminds us of the past and projects us to the future. In the perspective of the continuous development of our cities, small temporary urban interventions help understand the issues and involve the citizens before many major projects are built, and maybe ‘un-built.’

funded by Italian Ministry of School, University and Research) in a broader intervention involving different spaces in Valle Aurelia.


Notes 1 The designers of the projects and the authors of the texts of the Orizzontale collective included in this article are Jacopo Ammendola, Juan Lòpez Cano, Giuseppe Grant, Margherita Manfra, Nasrin Mohiti Asli, Stefano Ragazzo, and Roberto Pantaleoni. 2 All of the material, excluding the lighting modules, came from the installation ‘Officina Roma’ by Raumlaborberlin, realized in the fall of 2011 within the exhibition ‘Re-Cycle’ at MAXXI Museum, Rome. The construction and dismantling, carried out by Orizzontale, saved more than 25 cubic meters of wood. The project, in spite of its size and the transformation it produced, was built at almost no cost and almost zero ecological impact. 3 TXP, which was involved in the construction of the stage and bicycle parking station was represented in Rome by Diego Peris and Massimiliano Casu. 4 More information about Premio Maggia Competition at 5 The ECOWEEK project in Rome took place in September 24-30, 2012, and was a collaboration with OSA architettura e paesaggio (Massimo Acito, Marco Burrascano, Luca Catalano, Annalisa Metta, Luca Reale and Caterina Rogai - Mario Leonori, Lorenzo Senni and Marta Spadaro) and LUS Living Urban Scape (a program for young researchers





1. Valle Aurelia in Progress flyer for the party at the end of the ECOWEEK workshop (Courtesy of Maria Livia Olivetti) 2, 3, 4, 5. Saturday afternoon party in Valle Aurelia (Courtesy of Maria Livia Olivetti)

Maria Livia Olivetti (Italy) Architect heads the national research project ‘Living Urban Scape’ (LUS), funded by the Italian Ministry of Education at Roma Tre University.

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Valle Aurelia in Progress: Planning for Real Experiment Maria Livia Olivetti


t was thanks to my friend and colleague Annalisa Metta that I got involved in the ECOWEEK experience. At that time I already was (and still am) the coordinator of a research program named Living Urban Scape (LUS), the main focus of which is to find new solutions for the renovation of public residential housing blocks, starting from the open spaces. For this reason, I was very enthusiastic when Annalisa proposed to me to test some of the theories we had developed in LUS on a real scale, in Valle Aurelia in Rome. The suburb of Valle Aurelia was built in 1975 on the site of a small ancient village. It is located at the edge of the Pineto regional park and consists primarily of large residential buildings housing factory laborers, mostly immigrants from Libya. The buildings are surrounded by expanses of green open space covered largely by wild vegetation. The disconnect between the built and open

environment was partly the fault of the inhabitants, who have become indifferent to the surrounding landscape and don’t use it for their daily outdoor activities. They pass through it without acknowledging its presence or realizing its potential. Our challenge was to reconnect the open space to the built environment of the residential blocks, and thereby create an open space accessible and useful to the local population for their daily outdoor activity. No doubt that the challenge was too ambitious, considering the means at our disposal. Nevertheless, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity offered by ECOWEEK, to test our theories in practice and learn from the social physical reaction to our intervention. We began on our work on a cloudy day, in the last week of September 2012. We had six






days and a diverse team of 20 architecture and planning students from different parts of the world. We also had a modest budget of 1,000 euros to purchase materials for the implementation of the project. Initially there was hesitation, but we soon became wholeheartedly immersed in the task. By the end of the week, the first small park at the the entrance of the Pineto Park was transformed. With wooden furniture and signage, an exhibition with photographs of the historic neighborhood prior to its demolition, a staircase which gave access to the park from the street, and signage leading to the park, the project took on a life of its own. Along the 500m path connecting the apartment blocks to the park entrance, we made stencil drawings on the asphalt sidewalks, indicating the distance to the park. The signage provoked the residents to follow the path. At the end of the week, we organized a public party and a photography exhibition within the park showing the site we had transformed. We advertised with posters in the neighborhood, and soon the park was full of people — people of different ages and nationalities. We were astonished to see the broad response to our invitation by the local community, coming together on a September afternoon for the first time, to reclaim the public open space we revealed to them.

It was the first step in our goal to make the local community aware of its natural surroundings, and to start a process of reclaiming these natural public spaces. We needed to show them the possibility of using, preserving, and maintaining them for the well-being of the community. The Valle Aurelia in Progress experiment (in short, VAP) has changed the spatial configuration of the site, through minimal interventions of gardening and light temporary structures. Reflecting on the results of the project, it was highly engaging and challenging for our group of students and young architects for many reasons, both social and educational. VAP was an outstanding experience for all stakeholders. It benefited the students, the local residents and the LUS research program in many ways: The students and young architects were exposed to and participated in an alternate methodology for learning. They had the opportunity to experience the components that form the landscape, to understand the relationships, and to develop a design strategy for a real site. The students learned how to work as a team and to overcome language and cultural barriers. The local residents were involved for the first time in a process with a group of professionals

and young professionals who were sincerely interested in hearing and addressing the daily problems of their neighborhood. The local residents opened their homes and gave the students access to work in their outdoor spaces, helped them with materials, tools, and electricity throughout the entire week. VAP made the local residents witness the power of community in urban renovation and the maintenance of he local open spaces. The LUS research program, motivated by the assumption that urban action constitutes

the most viable path for the renovation of public residential suburbs, reached a positive conclusion. We realized that real action is the primary instrument to fulfill our research assumption. Having learned from the VAP experience, we are now extending our attention to a variety of realities that constitute 249 the public space within the urban context. We are seeking opportunities to address these challenges with innovative solutions and experimentation toward a renaissance of the public open space.



1. Vulkan area: The ‘cut’ (Photographer Øistein Haukeland) 2. Vulkan area: Existing conditions (Courtesy of LPO) 3. Vulkan area: The ‘cut’ in progress (Courtesy of LPO) 4. Vulkan area: Urban connection (Photographer Torbjørn Tandberg) 5. Vulkan area: Mathallen exterior (Photographer Aspelin Ramm) 6. Vulkan area: Mathallen facade reflections (Courtesy of LPO) 7. Vulkan area: Mathallen interior (Photographer Aspelin Ramm)

Hilde Sponheim (Norway) Partner at LPO Architects, is a graduate of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, working mainly on urbanism and urban development, sustainability, and environmental projects.

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Vulkan Area | Reused | Restructured | Revitalized Hilde Sponheim Task: Transformation of Inner City Brownfield in Oslo, Norway Year: 2004-2013 Client: Aspelin Ramm Architect: LPO Architects


n the subject of sustainability, my opinion is that urban planning is essential in setting the agenda for our physical surroundings. Urban structures form our common stage and create long lasting spaces. Buildings, volumes, density, mobility, program, and materials are all important ingredients, but physical connections and public spaces play unique roles. Functional and wellformed connections are important for joining different areas together, overcoming physical barriers, creating flow, providing safety and well-being, and generating urban vitality. Successfully made urban space gives the city a human scale, common places to meet and a sense of public identity.

already utilized, is an important starting point. Increasing density and introducing a new program, and providing new urban opportunities. The Vulkan area in Oslo is a successful example of the transformation of an inner city brownfield. It is located near Akerselva River, which used to have a 253 concentration of industrial plants. The river was an important energy source, and has been both a cultural and a physical barrier in the city between east and west. The site accommodated a variety of industries. Long before the industrial revolution, a wood mill operated there. In 1873, an iron foundry

Urbanization is one of the biggest challenges we face today. How we create future cities has an enormous impact on the lives of the majority of the people living on the planet, because the vast majority will live in cities. Oslo is still a small northern European city facing fewer challenges than most big cities. However, it is worth addressing some of these challenges and how they may turn into opportunities. Reused To avoid sprawl by redeveloping areas



was built and remained in use until the end of the 1950s. 254

From the 1960s onward, the buildings were used by industries and as office space. Because of the site topography and the heavy industrial activity in the site, the whole area was sealed off from the city and remained largely closed and unknown to the public. Restructured In the early 2000s Aspelin Ramm, the new owners of the site, held a design competition. Oslo based LPO Architects’ winning scheme proposed a mixed-use redevelopment, preserving and adapting some of the buildings in the area. The Municipality approved the plan in 2009. LPO Architects transformed the site into a new urban neighbourhood. Central to the redevelopment scheme are the historic buildings, which now accommodate a dance center and a food court in Mathallen. The main concept of the Master Plan was to open the area to its surroundings. In the heart of the proposal was creation of a new east-west connection by making a ‘cut’ in the 215 meter-long facade of Mathallen toward Akerselva River. The ‘cut’ was made possible through an innovative approach to building conservation, which was achieved in collaboration with the authorities. By


demolishing a small part of one of the historic buildings, a new connection between urban areas was established, and the river became an integrated part of the urban space. Further, the unique structure in the old building was highlighted in the section made visible through the ‘cut.’ This gave the Vulkan area a central pivot point. Revitalized Mathallen’s design follows other examples of South European food halls. The space houses bars, cafés, restaurants, several shops for local produce, and specialty food stores. The opening of the hall made the area accessible to the public and contributed to the transformation of the site. The reuse of the industrial building connected new functions to the history of the area, giving it a unique identity, different from the surrounding neighborhoods. Mathallen is an example of a heritage building adaptation, where public and private interests converge toward the conservation of cultural value and the enhancement of economic value. The Bellona House, also on the site, is the new headquarters of the Bellona Group. Being a non-governmental organization addressing environmental issues, they set high standards for the project. The building contains mainly offices, with shops and restaurants on the ground level. The building is situated on the site where the ‘cut’ was made, making


it part of the new public space and in direct interaction with the historic building structure and new facade. The plan of the Bellona House is a result of the conditions on the site — it is reusing older foundations. The office plan is compact and flexible. The facade is constructed in wood and is optimized for sun collection and views to the exterior. The architecture of the facade is not only ecofriendly, but also an answer to the specific context. As a response to the old brick building, it seeks a formal dialogue with the triangular shapes of the historic building, and through the use of glass, it reflects the two opposite facades, activating the new urban


space between them. The redefined Vulkan is now an attractive 255 high-density area in the inner city of Oslo. It is a model project in terms of developing processes, not only with different authorities, but also with different professionals, made possible within a commercial project framework. In terms of environmentaly friendly architectural targets, although it may not be as ambitious and specialized as other projects, what it brings to the site is the activation of the power of well-connected, functional, and engaging urban public spaces, where people are free to visit and use throughout the year.



1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8. Project Plans and Diagrams (Courtesy of Tom Rankin. Project Team: Architect Thomas Greene Rankin. Design Team: Jonathon Spada, Dominic Alvins, Alex Stoicheff, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta. Consultants: Gabriele Bacolini, Floreana Tramonti, and Hanna Persson) 5, 9. Via Portuense (Courtesy of Tom Rankin)

Tom Rankin (Italy & USA) Founder and director of Studio Rome, a design firm devoted to research and practice of environmentally sustainable architecture and urbanism.

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A Place for Reuse in Rome’s Via Portuense Tom Rankin


hen you think of green cities, you probably don’t think of Rome. The European cities that come to mind tend to be those where progressive civic projects in recent years have promoted clean energy, efficient transportation, and effective recycling systems. Malmo (Sweden), Freiburg (Germany), even London with its congestion charge and smart Olympics projects. Not Rome, which repeatedly ranks in the bottom third of Italian cities in terms of overall sustainability in Legambiente’s urban ecosystem ratings. But despite its relatively poor recent track record, and the presence of Europe’s largest

and most poorly run landfill, Rome is built on material reuse and is well-positioned to rise to the challenge of eliminating from our cities not just waste, but the very concept of waste. Zero-waste has become a catch phrase. But there are very few places, outside Rome, so urgently in need of achieving this goal. Rome 259 has an overtaxed waste management system seething with corruption. Its main ‘processing’ facility, Malagrotta, is saturated and any proposed new dump sites are stopped by understandable ‘nimby’ opposition. In the more than 20 years I have lived in Rome, I have always drawn inspiration from the city’s ability to adapt its physical heritage




and continues to perform as such today. The ancient Roman theater has seen more chaotic transformations into its current state, as a labyrinthine palazzo, housing luxurious offices and posh apartments. Examples date to all eras. Some recent cases of adaptive reuse are the Montemartini Museum, an abandoned power plant, now a spectacular museum of ancient sculpture, Xplora, the children’s museum, which occupies a former tram depot, and the former slaughterhouse in Testaccio, which now hosts a variety of cultural and educational functions. Even the Casa dell’Architettura, Rome’s architectural association center, has its home in Rome’s former Aquarium.



to new uses. If, as Carl Elefante once said, ‘the greenest building is the one already built,’ then Rome has been recycling its green heritage for two millennia. Examples such as the Pantheon and the Theater of Marcellus are the most emblematic. The Pantheon, Emperor Hadrian’s temple to all gods, was converted in 609 AD into a Christian church

With a stable population and a stock of buildings that has been growing, on and off, for millennia, Rome is a city with many needs. But new architecture is not among them. To paraphrase Professor Francesco Scoppola, the challenge today is not growth, but restraint. Not building more, but using better that which we have. Not reinventing the city, but rethinking how we live the city. In teaching design and history to architects for years, I’ve tried to encourage rethinking not just how we build, but what we do with the already built, and how we live in the cities we have inherited. The same ecological reasoning which suggests diverse and creative reuse of buildings can be applied to things. Again, Rome has countless examples. Sometimes, building materials are salvaged and reused intact and in situ, such as the few standing columns in Piazza

di Pietra, which form the portico of what is now the ‘events center’ for Rome’s Chamber of Commerce. This, incidentally, is where the results of our ‘Re-Use Workshop’ were quite appropriately displayed in 2010. Sometimes they are dismantled and reassembled elsewhere. For example, the famous stone face, the ‘Bocca della Veritá,’ outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin or more interestingly, the elaborate cosmatesque stone work in the floors inside. But sadly, they were most often destroyed to generate new materials. Much of the ‘pietra’ (stone) missing from Piazza di Pietra, and countless fine marble statues, were burned in lime kilns by the calcari to produce quick-lime in a process Bill McDonough would call ‘down-cycling.’ In the post-war years, Italy’s stagnant economy and imbalance of wealth slowed temporarily Rome’s entry into the world of mass consumption. But today, Rome is an equal participant in the throwaway economy, producing at least as much waste as any other European city. Clear evidence that residents of Rome discard items of value is the constant presence of Rom ‘gypsies’ rummaging through Dumpsters, despite protests, mining the city’s trash for resources. According to the research group Occhio del Riciclone, which monitored the phenomenon between 2005 and 2009, 33 million individual objects were salvaged from city Dumpsters by one Rom group alone. While elsewhere in the developed world ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ has become a mantra of the ‘green’ movement, in Rome the innovative reuse of materials is still marginalized and stigmatized, seen more as a

problem than a solution. Lester Brown’s ‘Plan B’ for the planet significantly calls for a new economy ‘that reuses and recycles everything.’ Along with ‘green’ technological developments in energy, water, and mobility, the boom in 261 creative reuse is one of the most exciting phenomena of the emerging twenty-first century economy, papidly supplanting the petroleum-based economy. Finally, the ethics





of environmental awareness have found their match in a ‘green’ aesthetics. Culture and sustainability, often poised in opposition, have found common ground in ‘old stuff.’ Rather than sending our old stuff to the smoky, urban hinterlands or some other hypothetical ‘away,’ why not return it to the public realm? Why not safeguard our resources in the heart of our communities? Recently, I have posed these questions as the focus of a series of workshops focusing on the site of the former Papal Arsenal at Porta Portese along Rome’s Tiber River. Subsequently, they emerged as the impetus for an urban design proposal presented to city officials in the context of a local revitalization plan. The beginning of Via Portuense presents one of Rome’s most undervalued and challenging urban sites, strategically placed along the banks of the Tiber, but currently marred by blight. Bounded by the river, the walls, and other architectural barriers, the site has an eerie, edge-of-town feeling, despite its central location. It is no coincidence that it hosts the kind of activities usually consigned to the edge of town: building supplies, bike and motor parts and accessories, and used ‘junk.’ Our proposal envisions the redesign of the area to transform it into a well-connected, ecologically sound node for productive activities. The proposed program of the buildings seeks to enrich the diversity of uses typical of vibrant twenty-first century cities. Rather than separating commercial from residential, or production and sales from disposal, the project promotes radical

adjacencies. At the ground floor, street frontage is dedicated to people — retail, workshops, where artisans repair, create and sell their products, a café, and a small supermarket. The central building, the Palazzo del Riuso, contains a community center and a library dedicated to architectural and mechanical salvage. A place where the tradition of bricolage and artisan culture can be preserved and promoted. An auditorium seating 50 people will be used for community and educational meetings. This building also contains a gallery where exhibits related to reuse, bricolage, and spoils will be held. Rather than attempt to adapt an existing building, we opted to create ex-novo a simple, rational frame structure to be finished (over time, perhaps) with salvaged materials. Alongside the iconic central building, existing bicycle workshops and storage areas are expanded, and new buildings are dedicated to the stockpiling, repair, dis-assemblage, reuse, and recycling of used technology, from bicycles to computers. Products which today become broken or obsolete, and discarded, would here be repaired, reused, regenerated, or as a last resort, see their component materials recycled. It is a place where people can bring things to fix or hack, where a broken washing machine can be dropped off and be treated as resource, not waste. In the upper floors we proposed workshops, creative professional offices and live/work studios for individuals who design, fix, produce, and sell objects. Today, they have been forced to

move out of the city center or to close their shops due to injustices in the urban economy. Interestingly, the research in the workshops started with a strongly digital framework. With a database of parts and system for cataloging and sorting, observing that often the problem is not ‘not having’ the part, but not finding it or recognizing its potential. Sophisticated storage systems emerged, resembling libraries or archives, more than yard sales. The role of creative arts was held foremost, with studio spaces for visual artists and designers who use found materials in innovative ways. The project also proposes a new park along the Tiber from the walls to the Via Ettore Rolli, terraced and organized into plots for community gardening and orchards. New bike baths traverse the park at various levels, and boat docks are created to promote river navigation. The permanent elimination of

motor vehicles along the Via Portuense (today pedestrian-only on Sundays) is compensated by new transit infrastructure in the form of a bus/tram hub, river shuttles, and bike-sharing facilities. The project was speculative and intentionally 263 provocative, a ‘spontaneous intervention,’ encouraging creative thinking and discussion about the site in order to arrive at a solution that benefits as many stakeholders as possible, including future generations. By grounding social encounters in material objects, but rejecting the obsessive and ecologically dysfunctional ‘discarding of the old to make way for the new,’ it is hoped that more complex relationships will emerge. Activated by processes surrounding material reuse, public space can return to playing a productive and innovative civic role, stimulating ‘green’ economic growth while positively impacting the urban ecosystem.



1, 2, 3, 4. Kfar Saba Green School (Photographer Lior Avitan / Courtesy of Knafo Klimor Architects)

David Knafo (Israel) Architect partner in Knafo Klimor Architects, committed to developing sustainable and humanistic architecture in its regional context.

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Building a Green School David Knafo


n a sunny day at the end of February, I was invited to a school to participate in the TuBishvat ceremony, the Israeli spring festival, to celebrate planting and the blessing of nature. Pupils from all classes were gathered in the courtyard, each one with a plant in his/her hand, ready for planting. The excitement among the children was tangible. The teachers spoke about the spirit of this special holiday, about the meaning of nature in human life, and about the importance of protecting the environment for their future and future generations. Sustainability was perfectly introduced to the children though the ritual of planting a new forest in the school area. At that moment, once again, I understood the role of the architect in promoting sustainability by designing ‘green’ buildings. Architecture is not only about aesthetic values or about introducing new technologies in buildings.

More important, it is about the ability to harmoniously integrate human aspirations and nature preservation into the design process. As architects we are responsible not only for the good operation of buildings, but for their impact on the environment as well, long after 267 our primary role is officially completed. Two years ago, we were commissioned to design a ‘green’ school in a new neighborhood designated for young families in Kfar Saba, a town north of Tel Aviv. We met the city’s mayor, the education staff, and members of the community involved in this initiative. They all repeatedly explained to us the necessity of building a ‘green’ school and spoke about the benefit of the building to the community in this new neighborhood. The building had to meet the USGBC Gold LEED standard, alongside the programmatic and pedagogic requirements determined by the education staff and the community.




The clients’ brief also included a study of the functional needs of the school and vision for sustainability of the people behind the project. Soon we developed an understanding of the community and its commitment to school life, through the involvement of the parents in their children’s education. It was clear that the school would function as a community center, and as such, it would host community activities in the afternoons and evenings. The community would have access to the school’s facilities, the sports grounds and stadium, and parents could spend time with their children in outdoor activities, including the cultivation of the communal agriculture field.

would learn to take responsibility over food production and their well-being.

We studied the site conditions including topography, orientation, soil, and landscape. We gathered climatic data available over the years for wind, precipitation, sun radiation, temperatures, and humidity.

The classrooms are oriented to the north, where large windows allow natural daylight to penetrate into the classrooms and minimize the need of artificial lighting during the day. The buildings’ insulation has been designed well above the normal standard, and the roofs are covered with vegetation for additional greenery and better insulation. The water system is designed for the reuse of all grey water and rain harvesting for irrigation of the gardens.

The knowledge that the planned building would destroy the habitat of many species living on site was quite disturbing. We called for a comprehensive study on the existing biodiversity on the site, in order to restore it after the completion of construction. The program included a small parcel of land for agriculture as part of the school’s Ecology Studies program. Pupils would grow vegetables and fruits in the yard and

The education staff believed strongly that pupils should stay outdoors as much as possible. The school buildings are therefore organized around a large courtyard at the center of the site. This allows direct access from the classrooms to the courtyard where the pupils play, socialize, and work in teams. Here they are introduced to natural surroundings and experience outdoor activities and become aware of the close connection among ecology, nature, and human needs.

The building’s heating and cooling is based on a geothermal heat installed on the site. The building’s performance saves about 50% of

system pump energy energy

consumption, compared to a standard facility of a similar size. The building has been granted the USGBC LEED Gold Standard for ‘green’ schools. The educational program exposes the children to various issues of sustainability, including climate change, biodiversity, renewable energy, recycling, and consumption mitigation. The children graduating from this school will no doubt be better prepared for a more sustainable lifestyle, leading to behavioral changes so urgently needed today. In one of my visits to the school in the winter, my eye caught the pupils enthusiastically working in the field adjacent to the courtyard. They were collecting rain samples in the meteorological station and were staring with enthusiasm at the newborn tadpoles in the courtyard pond.

Practicing ‘green’ architecture requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the design process. Besides professionals, such as environmental and social consultants, community members and the end users of the building are essential to guaranteeing a genuine commitment to a sustainable 269 building process. Sustainable architecture, as we perceive it, is above all a social discipline and embodies a constant dilemma. How to build to meet growing human needs and at the same time, preserve our fragile natural resources? How can we maintain the delicate equilibrium between social activities on one hand, and the vitality of planet Earth on the other? In my view, sustainable architecture is a viable way to reach a balance between satisfying human needs and minimizing the impact of construction on the planet.



1, 2, 3, 4. Interior and exterior views (Photographer Georgis Gerolympos)

Alexandros Kouloukouris (Greece) Architect and co-founder of KARD architects with more than 35 years of architectural and planning experience in private and public development.

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Business Building ‘Ben 10’ Alexandros Kouloukouris


he following project was designed on an unusual site in the neighborhood of Panorama, Thessaloniki, in 2008, just at the start of the economic crisis in Greece. The developer was competent, intelligent, and informed and desired a higher standard of design than is typically expected in Greece. His broad education and profound interest in the building environment led to a fascinating dialogue preceding all design decisions. We developed together a critical and constructive approach to environmental issues, which are of particular concern to us, as the architects of the project.

Our dialogue started with the design of the ‘base’ of the building and its relationship to the overall structure, the economic viability of the project, the functional flexibility in consideration of future uses, the respect for the immediate neighbors, and the building’s 273 environmental footprint. Respecting the economic limitations of the developer and the market conditions, we planned a small office building with a unique identity that is respectful of the environment. The neighborhood is mostly residential, but the particular site is a local mixed—use business hotspot.


The building plan is open plan, connecting the ground floor to the basement level to accommodate various functions. The first and second floors also have open plans for maximum flexibility. 274


The 650 sq.m. site (approximately 35 meters by 17 meters) faces northeast toward Venizelou Street. Adjacent is a two-story shopping arcade, and to the south are detached houses from the 1960s. Venizelou is a two—way street with a bus route. The building is positioned on the edge of the site and in contact with the existing twostory shopping arcade. It is set back nine meters from the building line, respecting the neighbors, leaving the front garden line, and providing the required parking spaces. It also serves to hide the very unattractive 9 X 18 meter blank wall of the existing shopping arcade. Further, we recommended a green wall near the entrance of the building and at the border of the nearby property, but these solutions proved uneconomical, at least for the time being.

The geometry of the building derives from the juxtaposition of two volumes on each one of the floors of the building. The ‘pull’ and ‘push’ of the rectangular volumes creates a ‘void’ and a ‘projection’ on each level. We also chose to expose the details of the cast concrete structure, while covering all the required thermal insulation needs with insulation installed on the internal face of the envelope. This allowed the elaborate formwork to develop a dialogue with the high—pressure compact laminate (HPL) cladding on the second floor. The cladding resonates the timber formwork of the concrete. All the formal projections of the building, such as the balconies and roof, were designed for a green roof system, planted with native plants. The selection was made according to the location, climate, and budget. These spaces are accessible mainly for maintenance. The client required electromechanical systems to provide for maximum flexibility for future users. We dedicated a central shaft for all the services, such as plumbing, heating, cooling, and electric mains, with access to the systems at all levels. Originally, we intended for heating and cooling based on an external heat exchange unit that would be located on the roof. The solution was calculated to be cost-effective and environmentaly friendly only if the whole building had common

working hours. However, this was not the case, due to different users. So an alternative solution of gas boilers and air-conditioning units was selected. The building has thermalbreak aluminum window frames with low-e glazing, qualifying as a class B building for energy efficiency.


The building was completed in June 2012. In the short time that the building has been in use, there have been substantial interior modifications by the tenants, enabled by the building’s flexible design and open plan. It was also made possible through a combination of responsible design in collaboration with an enlightened developer. The building is versatile, not only to adapt to different user requirements, but to weather a particularly challenging financial crisis without compromising on environmental standards as well.



1. Soil Center Copenhagen (Photographer Adam Mørk / Courtesy of Christensen & Co. Architects) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. DTU Compute (Photographer Adam Mørk / Courtesy of Christensen & Co. Architects) 7, 8, 9, 10. Soil Center Copenhagen (Photographer Adam Mørk / Courtesy of Christensen & Co. Architects)

Michael Christensen (Denmark) Principal of CHRISTENSEN & Co Architects, which completed in 2010 the Green Lighthouse, Denmark’s first carbon neutral public building.

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Two Projects: DTU Compute and Soil Center Copenhagen Michael Christensen DTU Compute Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Copenhagen, Denmark Project Credits Client: DTU – Technical University of Denmark Area: 4,600 sq.m. Architect: Christensen & Co Architects Landscape Architect: Kragh & Berglund Structural Engineer: Anders Christensen Engineers Mechanical Engineer: Henrik Larsen Engineers Interiors: Christensen & Co Architects



here are no dark corridors at DTU Compute. Instead, the interiors of the building are dominated by a continuous inner oasis with tall trees that form a living, communal space weaving through the entire building, connecting students, staff, and visitors. The multiple functions of the building are situated in eight separate towers with glass walls behind the building’s outer glass facade and the large skylights on the roof. The towers house the building functions: seminar rooms and student lounges on the ground floor, offices and open communal spaces for researchers on the upper levels. The towers are connected by footbridges that enable circulation throughout the upper levels of the building. Walking between the treetops, visitors can view the student lounges below. The trees contribute to the building’s interior environmental sustainability, not only by improving the air quality of the building





interiors. As in most cultures throughout history, trees hold universal symbolic meaning of life, learning, wisdom, and experience. They also provide places where people can gather. Twenty—two trees were placed in small groups, creating informal meeting places


for the students and natural shading for the study areas, filtering the abundant daylight throughout the building. The DTU Computer building facade is primarily covered in glass of different types: transparent, sandblasted, white and


translucent glass, and in aluminum panels. The facade creates varying degrees of transparency, depth, and reflectivity, so that when seen from afar, one can discern the contours of the interior trees and of people moving around inside the building.


From the inside, the open views to the courtyards with large oak trees organically connect the building interior with the landscape. The trees inside the building act as the visual foreground to the oak trees outside. Soil Center Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark Project Credits Client: Soil Center Copenhagen Area: 1,800 sq.m. Architect: Christensen & Co Architects Engineer: Grontmij General Contractor: CPH City & Port Development On the edge of the city of Oresund, where the sky meets the ocean behind the Freeport and the Container Terminal, lies Copenhagen Municipality’s new soil treatment center, the Soil Center Copenhagen. This new urban area, Nordhavn, was created by millions of cubic meters of dug—up soil from construction projects and metro building sites around Copenhagen. The center analyzes and handles contaminated soil, so that it is used in an environmentally safe manner. The Nordhavn landscape is flat, with an everchanging scenery of piles of soil and deep excavations.




To the northwest of the Soil Center Copenhagen, the landscape is contrastingly lush with low green hills, shrubbery, and little ponds and lakes fringed with rushes. A wild nature site filled with sounds of birds, swans, and mewing seagulls. Here the protected European Green Toad has found a new home after the preservation of the area. The Soil Center Copenhagen grows out of this context with its characteristic silhouete and rusty red, facades. It becomes at the same time both an integral part of the landscape and a distinct manmade object. Soil Center Copenhagen Diverse Spaces in One Sculptural Form The sculptural building makes for a protecting

boundary between heavy traffic areas and the protected nature site. With its zigzagging shape, the building creates spaces that face either toward the soil arrival area or open nature. The center houses a variety of diverse spaces and functions. The form of the building responds to the particular needs for height and space. The building contains offices, laboratories, dressing rooms, two large workshops, garages, and storage spaces. The office section is a peaceful oasis with views to the surrounding nature through carefully placed windows, each offering carefully framed views of the landscape and the waters of Ă˜resund. At the same time, the placement of windows optimizes the use of natural light, so that the character and quality


of interior daylight becomes integral to the architectural narrative. The facades are clad in stretch metal protected by a red layer of rust. It offers, besides a beautiful red color, a resilient surface that can withstand dust and dirt in this harsh environment. The roof landscape will grow with tall grass, bushes, and trees. This way the building makes up for the piece of landscape it has occupied, and will contribute in preserving natural biodiversity in the area. A Green Daylight Interior In contrast to the hard exterior surfaces, the interiors offer calm, soft, and natural surfaces, views to the surrounding nature outside and inside. Two large indoor trees, along with the lush plant wall, create a green and delightful internal contrast to the dusty and rough exterior environment. The numerous roof windows shower the building with natural daylight in the office area, minimizing the use of lighting. The floor

plan encourages interdisciplinary synergy among the center’s different departments ranging from engineers to excavator drivers. The materials in the interior are dominated by the raw concrete of the outer walls, partitions and fixtures made of plywood, and floors 283 made of bedding mortar. The Soil Center Copenhagen is the first DGNB certified building in Denmark built after the test phase, and the very first certified building in Nordhavn. It is a zero—energy building, which combines passive and active energy efficiency measures based on an overall strategy, that encompasses energy efficiency, building materials, and social aspects. The design of the building results in low energy consumption. The building is heated, cooled, and powered by geothermal energy through many kilometers-long pipes underneath the black asphalt in front of the building, and, through solar panels and solar cells integrated into the slanting roof surfaces.



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Courtesy of G. Minke 8, 9, 10. CREATERRA (Photographer B. Kiefulf) 11. Courtesy of S. Minke 12. Courtesy of G. Minke

Gernot Minke (Germany) Trained architect with doctoral degree and a retired professor from the University of Kassel, Germany, where he directed the Building Research Institute for 38 years. Author of Building with Earth.

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Load-Bearing Vaults and Domes from Straw Bales Gernot Minke


traw compressed into bales is a fascinating building material. It has a high thermal insulation value (λ = 0.052 or 0.08 W/m.K), and as 1 kg of straw contains 420 gr of carbonate, 1 ton of straw reduces the CO2 content of our atmosphere by 1.5 tons of CO2 (as long as it is not burned). There are still inhabited houses with load bearing straw bale walls in Nebraska, USA, which are more than 100 years old. Loadbearing walls mean that only the straw transfers the load from the roof to the foundation. As I have designed and built many vaults and domes from adobe and unburned bricks in my professional career, I was keen to test the possibility of using straw bales instead of bricks, without using mortar and without any other structural support. At my research laboratory at the University of Kassel, Germany, we found out that a cut surface of a bale is much stronger than an uncut one. So we developed a special saw to cut the bales to a defined angle, and build an arch of conically cut bales without using mortar. Load-bearing vaults and domes from straw bales were at the time new technologies. This meant that there were no codes to calculate and permit such structures. Further, in Germany it would have been difficult or impossible to get official permission to build them. In 2007 I had the opportunity to build three load bearing vaults at the rural community ‘Tamera’ in Portugal. The vaults

were built during a three—week workshop with the help of 24 people from 10 nations. The three units, which function as student accommodation, were later covered with a green roof. After finishing the vaults on a temporary formwork, they were tensioned by strips. When the formwork was taken down, 287 no settling of the vaults was observed. The vaults were covered from inside and outside with three layers of earth plaster. The facade was closed with earth—filled hoses around the round window. After this positive experience, my dream was to build a load-bearing straw bale dome





surrounded by eight load-bearing straw bale vaults covered by a green roof. In Slovakia I found friends (Zuzana and Björn Kierulf), who helped me realize this idea at Hruby Sur near Senec. Over a foundation of 50 cm of expanded glass gravel, which also acts as thermal insulation, prefabricated wooden elements were positioned, and over these eight vaults from conical bales were erected. The dome rested on an octagonal wooden ring beam, which rested on eight tree trunks of 30 cm diameter. The bales of the dome were fixed by wooden sticks. The straw surface was plastered in three to four layers, up to a thickness of 6 cm from inside and outside. An EPDM membrane (ethylene propylene diene monomer – an extremely durable synthetic



rubber roofing membrane) provided the water proofing. On this a green roof was installed mounting earth—filled bags and throwing some seeds over the surface. The floor was made of rammed earth, the interior covered with earth plasters of different colors. The building is used to house an architectural office and an NGO. In 2012 Tobias Weyhe and I were very happy to build the first load-bearing straw bale vaults with official permission in Wangelin, Germany. The five vaults are used for the accommodation of seminar participants of an NGO. We wanted to create an example of sustainable low-cost architecture, built of natural building materials and by unskilled




labor. During erection the building was sheltered by a large tent structure. The vaults, the earth plaster, the rammed earth floor, and furniture were all built in the course of two weeks of international workshops. The above examples give a glimpse of my architectural research, design, and teaching, which combine many fields in individual projects. Hands-on workshops and learning by doing is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and effective ways for students and professionals to learn the architectural profession.



References Minke, G., Mahlke, F. 2005. Building with Straw, Birkhäuser Publishers, Basel, Berlin Minke, G., Krick, B. 2009. Handbuch Strohballenbau, ökobuch Verlag, Staufen, Germany Minke, G. 2013 (3rd ed.). Building with Earth, Birkhäuser Publishers, Basel, Berlin Minke, G. 2011. Cúpulas y Bóvedas para vivir y trabajar, para hacer música y meditar, merlinid, Cali, Colombia




1. W Hotel Amsterdam: Transformation of the inner courts (Courtesy of office_winhov) 2. W Hotel Amsterdam: Monument and new additions (Courtesy of office_winhov) 3. W Hotel Amsterdam: Corner of the monument with the new roof extension (Courtesy of office_ winhov) 4. RvGT in 1928 (Courtesy of office_winhov) 5. RvGT in 2010 (Courtesy of office_winhov) 6. W Hotel Amsterdam (Courtesy of office_ winhov)

Uri Gilad (Switzerland) Architect, partner at office_winhov in Amsterdam. Teaches at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, and is an assistant professor at the Amsterdam School of Arts on the research project ‘Tectonics in Contemporary Brick Architecture.’

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Second Life for a City Monument: Transformation of a Monument into W Hotel Amsterdam Uri Gilad


he invitation to write this article was an opportunity to address the way we approach sustainability in our work and our attitude toward sustainable architecture. As architects we are opposed to the contemporary trend of specialization in sustainable architecture. A good building should stand for a long time. This simple notion challenges us to approach our work, with great interest in the connection among tradition, materials, and construction. We mostly start from this point of departure. We believe that a building has to be useful. Not only today but tomorrow as well. As buildings move beyond the circumstances of their creation, they are absorbed by the larger story of the city and its inhabitants. They become a part of a community, part of a cultural history. For us, this is what defines sustainability. The design for the former ‘Rijkskantoorgebouw voor Geld- en Telefoonbedrijf’ (the Dutch State Funds and Telephone Company) transforms a currently empty historic building by giving it a second lease of life. Designed by Joseph Crouwel in 1925, the building is located in the heart of Amsterdam, next to the Royal Palace. The original design was strongly influenced by the architecture of the Amsterdam School. However, because of the worldwide financial crisis at the time, the original design had to be altered in several significant ways. Instead of the highly expressive and decorative detailing of the Amsterdam School, the building is more restrained and monumental. Clearly the design was influenced by Frank

Lloyd Wright’s Larkin building of 1906. The transformation during the construction included the addition of a central structure which was meant to have a glazed roof. This was never built. The building with its massive concrete construction and monumental brick facades was declared a protected monument 293 by the city. The primary function of the building was to provide a telephone service for the inhabitants of Amsterdam. With the automation of telephony completed in 1964, this service became obsolete. The building lost its public function and underwent several transformations that compromised the original architectural intent. The large machinery was removed, and windows were added in the building’s top floor. These changes were made mostly to meet programmatic functional needs, but neglected the unique character of the building. The ground floor of the building was transformed and is presently used as a supermarket. The upper levels of the building are empty and have been abandoned for more than 15 years. Needless to say, these changes have not enhanced the building architectural expression and its unique presence in the city. Our task was to transform the building into a five—star hotel. We felt it important to go beyond the programmatic demands and to give the building monument a second life as a prominent public building in the city center. The challenge was ‘to give the building back to the people’ as a recognizable icon in the heart of Amsterdam. We resolved to restore



the building’s former architectural character and add a panoramic public floor on top. Our design restores the original facade and replaces the dysfunctional inner facade with glass construction that extends to the panoramic roof top structure. The additions work as a singular contrasting intervention into the existing building. The hotel public facilities (reception, bars, and restaurant) are located on the top level, offering a view over the city, while underlining the building public character. Transforming an aging historic building into a sustainable building is generally a difficult technical task. One would like to maintain the historical building as much as possible, keeping its facades, windows, and any part of the building that grants it a special quality, intact. But all these elements do not comply with modern energy requirements. However, replacing them all or creating a new skin for the building would result in a loss of the building original character. We divided our task into two parts: the first was to restore the building’s relevant historical elements, while exploring opportunities


to find sustainable improvements for the infrastructure. The second was to add technical solutions within the new and renovated parts of the building to meet the environmental standards expected for a sustainable project. These solutions included technical installations such as a geothermal heat pump, thermal insulation and thermal controls. The combination of these strategies supported by the environmental ambitions of W Hotel, and allowed us to apply for the BREEAM gold certificate. In transforming a monument in the heart of the city, we are very keen on the relation that the newly transformed building will have with its immediate environment and most importantly with its users and the inhabitants. In this, we take a stand in the sustainability debate. For a large part, this debate is concerning technique and installations. However important and interesting these

aspects are, we feel that they take a disproportionally large part in the whole of the sustainability debate. Lesser interest is taken in issues concerning social sustainability that in our view play a crucial role in the success and longevity of buildings. We design the physical to support the social. Together with the interior architects and the client, we have developed a building that has a unique public character which invites social interaction and engages with the dynamic creative population of Amsterdam. Project Credits Project: W Hotel Amsterdam Address: Spuistraat 175 Amsterdam Gross Floor Area: 13.650 m2 Client: Stag Europe (Grafenau) B.V., Amsterdam Operator: W Hotels Original Design: Rijksgebouw voor Geld- en telefoonbedrijf, J.F Crouwel 1928 Architecture and Design: Office Winhov with BK Architecture Structural Engineer: van Rossum Raadgevende Ingenieurs, Amsterdam Building Physics, Fire & Safety: Cauberg Huygen Raadgevende Ingenieurs, Amsterdam Installations: TBT IJsselstein and Spark Intelligent Design Amsterdam






1. Solar path and shading (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 2. East elevation (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 3. Taking into consideration the electromagnetic (Hartmann) lines (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 4. Shading model (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 5, 6, 7. During construction (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 8. On site monitor (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 9. The team at the construction site (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras) 10. Project rendering with planted roofs (Courtesy of Costas Tsipiras)

Costas Tsipiras (Greece) Architect, graduate of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Ecole du Batiment (Paris), with doctorate from the University of Grenoble. Author and co-author of 14 books, among others on ecological architecture.

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Macedonian Sun: Bioclimatic Passive House in Thessaloniki. The First Holistic Philosophy Residence in Greece Costas Stef. Tsipiras


he architecture of this house was inspired by the beautiful site, the view of the horizon, the sunlight, and the symbolism of the Macedonian phalanx, an historic formation of Macedonian battle seen as an idealized representation of organization and unity. The architectural design emerged out of two formal ideas: a. The volume of the building is nonorthogonal. The east and west walls are not parallel to one other, and their geometry converges to a point exactly 60 meters north of the site. The north and south walls are curved and form an amphitheater opening toward the view. b. The axis of symmetry of the building is an elongated vertical core. Sloping beyond the building’s boundaries, a strip of land on the north-south axis mimics the dynamic movement of the sarissa, the Macedonian phalanx. The ‘shield’ of the imaginary phalanx points north and protects the house from the ‘enemy’: the powerful Vardaris wind!

The entrance is located on the first floor, and the unusual structure of the house becomes clear immediately upon entry. Through large windows there is a view of the horizon, which orients the visitor and reinforces the connection between the landscape and the interior. Four south—facing bedrooms are 299 located on the second floor. At the center of the building a double height atrium rises from the swimming pool and, overlooked by the living room, functions as a greenhouse. The pool appears to penetrate the building, creating a volumetric recess. The roof is divided into zones covered alternately by photovoltaic and solar thermal panels, and a green roof for insulation. Thessaloniki is within the C climatic zone of Greece, requiring substantial heating in the winter. With optimal building orientation and correctly positioned openings on each elevation, we have maximized the direct solar gain and protected the building from the cold northern wind. The east and west openings are shaded by motorized wooden blinds that




ensure adequate protection during summer. The atrium traps solar radiation during winter and distributes the heat to the surrounding rooms. A solar chimney penetrates the roof slab of each bedroom, increasing the natural light and improving ventilation. During the summer the atrium functions as a cooling tower, helped by the three north-facing openings and the pressure differential caused by the prevailing winds. During the summer the pergolas protect the south elevation and prevent the indoor temperature from rising excessively. The Macedonian Sun meets the highest standards for residential buildings in Greece. The building is insulated with 10cm Knauf ecological insulation on the inner surface of the exterior walls and an additional 5cm within the walls to remove all thermal bridges, while allowing the building to ‘breathe’ and achieve a U-value of less than 0.3W/m2K. The solar and PV modules on the roof, together with the water heating fireplace supply a substantial percentage of the house’s energy requirements.


The load—bearing structure is made out of C-25 reinforced concrete, with no radioactive fly ash or S500 iron. The outer walls are made out of hollow clay brick clad in either plaster or limestone. Inner partitions are made of 10cm clay brick. The wood window frames, certified by the ‘PassivHaus’ standard, have thermal - and noise - insulated glazing, with inert gas between the panes and a U-value of less than 1.8W/m2K. Motorized wooden louvers operate on the exterior part of the frames. The building blends into the beautiful site, landscaped with deciduous trees along the eastern and western elevations to provide shade during the summer. The green roof provides added thermal mass to protect the second floor. Evaporative cooling from the swimming pool improves the cooling during the summer. The water stores the thermal energy during the winter to improve the microclimate at night. Air infiltration is less than 0.6 air changes per m3. Ductwork discharges air to a heat

recovery system and ensures a continuous supply of fresh air, reducing wasted energy. As a result the annual heating requirements are less than 15 kWh/m2 and the annual cooling requirements less than 15 kWh/m2. The total annual energy consumption is less than 120 kWh/m2. The heat exchanger, the centerpiece of the entire system, is located partially in the basement and partially on the attic. During winter, outside air is introduced to the heat exchanger and is preheated to 18°C by the exhaust air stream. During summer the heat exchanger is reversed to pre-cool the incoming air with the help of the cool used air being discharged. The Macedonian Sun integrates four renewable energy (RES) technologies, which

seamlessly work together: a. 30 sq.m. of solar-thermal collectors heat the space and domestic hot water and are combined with a central boiler for hot water storage. b. 45 sq.m. of photovoltaic panels produce electricity, and excess electricity is fed into 301 the national grid. c. 35 kW geothermal heat pump provides hot water to the central water tank when the solar thermal energy is not sufficient. d. A fireplace as additional source of hot water. These technologies adequately provide for the building energy needs during the winter, and the solar thermal system provides hot water during the summer. At the core of the




heating system is an advanced technology solar-thermal unit, which receives domestic hot water from the solar panels and auxiliary heat sources (water heating fireplace, and geothermal heat pump). A 1,000—liter heat storage tank is integrated with the solar modules and counterbalances the unit. During the summer, the geothermal heat pump provides chilled water for cooling. The Macedonian Sun completely avoids the use of grid-sourced energy for heating and cooling. It is one of the first residential buildings to be certified by the German ‘PassivHaus,’ a standard for energy—efficient design. The PassivHaus currently meets the most stringent international standards for low energy consumption of buildings. Combination of Bioclimatic and Passive Design This combination allows users to comfortably alternate between bioclimatic and passive modes. The passive mode is expected to function most of the year, when the external climatic conditions are within the range of thermal comfort. The bioclimatic mode will


be selected only during extreme weather. All ventilation will be through the heat exchanger, so as to minimize the requirement of heating or cooling the incoming air. When changing modes, the systems automatically adjust the solar chimneys and openings on the roof. The Macedonian Sun is equipped with an advanced system for Optimal Automatic Control for the four RES and the passive systems. The target is to achieve thermal comfort inside the residence and maximize the use of solar energy. The geothermal heat pump will only complement the other two energy sources and will be used only when needed. Preset temperatures trigger the system to maximize the efficiency of the solar gain. The higher the temperature of the stored water, the less efficient are the PV modules, and the temperature of the domestic hot water needs to be constantly optimized. During extremely cold winters the solar-heating is prioritized between the house and the swimming pool to minimize the energy consumption of the geothermal heat pump. The system continuously provides



recommendations regarding the appropriate mode — bioclimatic or passive. It alerts the occupants to the need for maintenance or functional problems. The system is connected to instruments throughout the building which monitor air temperature, relative humidity, air velocity in ducts, the temperature of the photovoltaic panels, and the functioning


of the thermal and geothermal pump. In addition, the total energy consumption meters allow monthly and annual balancing. The building has been designed so that the balance of supply and demand for energy will be zero, and we hope that monitoring the performance will prove us correct.



1. Possible development phases (Courtesy of Urban Vitamin) 2. DJI Havenstraat (Courtesy RGD Nederlands) 3. DJI Bijlmerbajes (Courtesy Abram de Boer) 4. Energiecentrale Hoogte Kadijk 400 (Courtesy Abram de Boer) 5. Octrooigebouw (Courtesy of Urban Vitamin) 6. Urban Study (Courtesy Urban Vitamin) 7. Rendering of possible future development (Courtesy of Urban Vitamin) 8. Example of vacant church: Sint joseph kerk Bos en Lommer in Amsterdam (Courtesy Abram de Boer) 9. Flexible system allows for future adaptation (Courtesy of Urban Vitamin)

Abram de Boer (Holland) Architect, engineer, and entrepreneur at Studio NOA Architecten, founder of the foundation Urban Vitamin and PHD researcher at the University of Applied Science Amsterdam and the Technical University of Delft.

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Reconstructing Architecture: The Octrooigebouw Abram de Boer


o deal with the enormous number of vacant buildings and to recognize their cultural, functional and future value, we need a creative approach and a commitment to sustainability!’ The huge quantity of vacant buildings, from offices to schools within the metropolitan area of Amsterdam reflects the changing reality concerning the social-cultural and economic systems of spatial supply and demand within the cities in Europe. The only reason for the vacancy is a mismatch between supply and demand. For example there is currently a vacancy of 1.5 million square meters of office space in Amsterdam. This means that due to changing working conditions, there is no need for additional office space. Office space could be demolished or converted to other functions. This does not only concern office space. In the Netherlands a church becomes vacant every two days. Vacancy is problematic, not only for the investors in the buildings, but also for the community in terms of the loss of the symbolic, cultural and social significance of the building in the district or neighborhood. The central government owns a large number of buildings which have or will become vacant. The budget cuts imply that many of these buildings will be neglected. Furthermore, government budget policy requires the sale of unused government-owned buildings, which are currently predominantly office facilities. This is a political issue of concern to the central government, which is responsible

for adapting these neglected buildings to new use. For example, two government owned jails in Amsterdam are being sold in the coming years. These jails are difficult to convert to other functions. In spite of their huge potential, 307 because of their location in the middle of the city, they will be difficult to adapt due to their function-specific construction. Vacant schools, train stations, and old power stations have different characteristics: they contribute in different ways to their immediate environment, as they are built with different materials and comply with different energy codes.



The local governments, such as the municipality of Amsterdam, do not have a vision of how to deal with derelict buildings. They typically do not see the future value, only the current costs. 308

Every building that is reused means that a new building does not have to be built. Even a new building which meets the highest environmental codes (for example LEED platinum) will be less sustainable than the adaptive reuse of an existing structure, due to the embedded energy of the existing building. Adaptive reuse reduces the financial and environmental costs of production and transportation, reduces the volume and environmental impact of building waste and landfills. It reduces not only the energy costs, but the environmental waste as well, by 30% and 20% respectively. This is a significant contribution to sustainability. Adaptive reuse also makes the city more sustainable. There is a social-political responsibility to reuse abandoned buildings, especially, those considered integral to the urban fabric and collective memory of the citizens.

It is unacceptable to expand utility facilities into the un-built landscape while between 7 12% of utility facilities are vacant. An inventory and categorization of vacant utility facilities in Amsterdam is the first step to planning the future. Adaptive re-use could make a significant contribution to the economic, environmental, and cultural conditions of our cities. We need to rethink, rediscover, and redefine the value of reusing buildings. In evaluating the existing buildings and the effects of their adaptive reuse, three elements are important: - The cultural value of the building (historic and architectural value). - The functional value respecting the demands of the market, and - The future value of the vacant building (adaptive reuse potential). Cultural Value The cultural value reflects criteria such as the role of the building in the history of the city, its architectural character, and significance. Functional Value We need to consider if the existing building and/or space meets the requirements of current users. Is the building, its infrastructure and its surroundings adequate for current use?


Future Value Is the adaptive reuse of the building, its infrastructure, and surroundings possible without destroying other values?

These values represent the 2,000-year-old Vitruvian adagio of Utilitas (functionality) Firmitas (firmness), and Venustas (esthetics). While Vitruvius defined these values to describe the idea of construction, we need to rethink architecture and rediscover how we can adapt buildings to meet the changing needs of the market, while respecting cultural and historic values. This is sustainable architecture. In adaptive reuse we need to take into account the existing building structure, the condition of the infrastructure, the new functions, the technical demands such as energy use, fire safety, natural light and ventilation, the high costs of renovation relative to new building, and esthetic values. New buildings may have a life expectancy of approximately 75 years, but their function changes approximately every 15 years. This means that we need to think more about flexibility and future changes than we might have in the past. Urban Vitamin undertook a feasibility study for the reuse of Octrooigebouw (former Patent Office building) an office building now empty, in The Hague. The Octrooigebouw and a significant portion of other vacant buildings, such as the Willem-Witsenplein, were sold by the national government under pressure from budget cuts. The question we asked was ‘how could we reuse Het Octrooigebouw?’ Cultural Value The stone sills and brick bands demonstrate a particular craft applied by architect J.G. Empire Robbers (1881 - 1943) in the construction



of Het Octrooigebouw in 1933. While the adjacent New Nirwaneflat building belongs to the Haagsche School, Het Octrooigebouw was built in the traditional dark brick. It could be considered a pre-Haagsche School example, based on the articulate brickwork, as in the Amsterdam School of Berlage. The Het building is primarily a column and beam structure, yet the facade is load bearing. This means that the facade and the basement cannot be configured as desired. Because of the large number of elevator shafts, we can only speak of a building composed of wings and components. The central wing, which is a later addition and built in lower quality than the other wings, is predominant and casts a shadow on the other wings. Functional Value Our strategy was not to consider the building as a solitary object but as belonging to its urban context. We wanted to take into account the social and economic conditions in the district of Benoordenhout, where the Het building is located. Demographic trends such as aging and immigration have added value

to neighborhood strategic development. What strategy would attract developers, inhabitants, and private investors to Het Octrooigebouw? Supply and demand do not match in today’s demand-driven market, and a new use has to be found.



Future Value To make the building adaptable in the future, a phased strategy was adopted. The property was divided into four blocks, according to fire requirements. Each block has an independent technical infrastructure, while all blocks share vertical circulation. The different blocks could be sold to developers, investors, and private clients. Each floor in each of the blocks can be classified by the function as of private, corporate, or collective ownership. Because the system is flexible it can be adapted to changing market demands in the future.




Summary The objective is to develop a body of knowledge regarding the effective adaptation and reuse of existing vacant utility buildings. Understanding the possibilities to motivate, inspire, and attract users might be the key. Architecture and engineering are the tools to unleash the hidden value within the process. Evaluating and measuring the cultural, functional, and future value of the adaptive reuse of these buildings may become one of the new roles of the designer. As existing vacant utility buildings are part of the urban fabric of historic cities, innovative building technologies and architectural design are necessary for exploring creative ideas and solutions, and for making sound decisions about this cultural heritage. The way we reconstruct architecture and the way we design for flexibility, define one significant aspect of the essence of sustainability.


Project Credits Name of Project: Exploratory Design Research Octrooigebouw Address: Willem Witsenplein, The Hague, The Netherlands Area: 12,000 sq.m. Client: Rijksgebouwendienst Funding by: Ministry of Internal Affairs, The Netherlands Designer: Urban Vitamin; Abram de Boer, Christiaan van Hegelsom, and Marc Prosman Consultant: Rekenruimte Design Year: 2012 – 2013



1. International Antarctica Expedition (Courtesy of Robert Swan) 2. E-Base Antarctica (Courtesy of Robert Swan) 3. E-Base (Courtesy of Robert Swan) 4. E-Base Pench Tiger Reserve (Courtesy of Robert Swan)

Robert Swan, OBE (UK & USA) Explorer, Leadership Expert and a living legend who has earned his place in history as the first person to walk to both the North and South poles.

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Preserving Antarctica Robert Swan


y name is Robert Swan, and I am on a 50—year mission, with 28 years to go.

When I was 11 years old, I watched a film that changed my life — a film on exploration of the Antarctic. I said to myself, one day I will walk to the South Pole. That’s when my dream began. It took 7 million dollars over a period of 126 days in temperatures from -5° Celsius to -68° Celsius to become the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. But something happened to me. Without knowing it then, I had walked under the Ozone Hole. My eyes changed color and the skin on my face blistered, because of the reflection of the ultraviolet rays off the ice. The journey was an awakening that charged me into action. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest place on Earth. It is currently protected by the Antarctic Treaty System, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, prohibits mining, and drilling and bans military activity. Yet despite these safeguards, our activities have managed to breach through this icy continent. Every year I visit Antarctica with selected individuals from around the world to show them just how fast the glaciers are melting. It seems that the rate at which this phenomenon is occurring is greatly induced by unsustainable use of non—renewable energy sources. My aim is to make sure that everybody knows that decisions made today will impact the planet’s ecosystem and the future of life on Earth.

I founded the organization 2041 to promote renewable energy and sustainability throughout the world. The 2041 team creates environmental champions who represent their countries and are inspired, informed, and engaged to take responsibility and action in policy development, sustainable businesses, 315 and clean technologies. This connection between young leaders and renewable energy will help preserve Antarctica. The greatest threat to the planet is the belief that somebody else will save it. For the last 30 years, my life experiences have taught me that it takes a team of committed people, working together and sharing positive outcomes to facilitate change. I urge the rising leaders of tomorrow to advocate sustainability, promote environmental initiatives such as using clean energy, conserving water and recycling in their communities, and make an effort to encourage more people to do the same. We are in this together, and that is our biggest strength. In fact, my most meaningful project has been successful, because it involved young passionate people who are really stubborn in challenging the status quo and highly determined to change the game. Young people today are the nexus of our mission. The first project was to set up an Education Base (E-Base) running entirely on renewable energy in Bellingshausen, Antarctica. The E-Base serves as a symbolic model for educational, environmental, and energy issues throughout the world. Its purpose is to

inspire a global audience to tackle the issue of climate change, by showing that when we achieve the seemingly impossible in Antarctica, we can all take small, achievable steps in our own backyards. 316

2041 has supported setting up E-Bases in various countries. We have one in the center of India in the Pench Tiger Reserve. In 2013 we set up 3 E-Bases: at the base of the Himalayan range, the Arctic, and a mobile E-base in the United States of America. Our E-Bases are positive solutions that can be replicated anywhere. They specifically address local issues but support work toward preserving a safe and natural environment globally. In 2015 the 2041 team attempted the Return

Journey from the South Pole to edge of the Antarctic, the place where it began 30 years back. The greatest challenge was our decision to do this only using renewable energy. From melting ice to get water to heating our tents, solar and wind power has been our only accomplices, and that was truly inspiring. I have lived an adventurous life. I have no permanent residence. I spend more time traveling than I do sleeping. It is safe to say that I have seen environmental changes everywhere, and it is deeply disappointing that we are still debating and discussing this issue. The time for that was 20 years ago... now is the time to ACT. Let us make a few changes and help reverse the effect of global warming. That way, 28 years from now, we will have preserved Antarctica and protected our future forever.






1, 2: Construction of Gando Secondary School, Burkina Faso (Courtesy of Kéré Architecture) 3, 4, 5, 6: Gando Secondary School, Burkina Faso (Courtesy of Kéré Architecture)

Diebedo Francis Kéré (Germany & Burkina Faso) is a distinguished leading architect in sustainable and community projects.

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School in Gando, Burkina Faso Diebedo Francis Kéré


urkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, is amongst the poorest nations in the world. Located some 200 kilometers from Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou is Gando, a village of approximately 3,000 inhabitants. The settlement is formed from a group of round adobe and thatch farmsteads set loosely across the savanna and surrounded by agricultural land. Like many villages in West Africa, Gando suffers from inequality, made worse by the negative aspects of globalization. Those born in the town have little chance of receiving a modern education. The children work in the fields to ensure the survival of their community and are unable to attend school. With an illiteracy rate of more than 80%, the majority of people have no alternative occupation but to farm their land. Born in 1965 and, as the son of the village headman, I was the first child from Gando to go to school. Because none existed in the village, I had to leave my family when I was seven to live with my uncle in the city. At the age of 13, I began to apprentice as a carpenter, and at 20 received a scholarship to extend my training in Germany. In Berlin I ultimately graduated with a degree in Architecture. In 1998, whilst still at university, I established together with a group of friends the organization Schulbausteine für Gando (Bricks for Gando’s School). Our intention was to build a new school in my home town. After securing financing in Berlin through the association, we started a dialogue with the villagers from Gando, demanding their input and assistance to construct the project.

Using the knowledge gained in Germany, my intention was to achieve sustainability by emphasizing the use of local materials, adapting new technologies in simple ways and harnessing the inherent potential of the local community. We began to build the first school in October 2000, with the hands of the men, women, and children of Gando. The primary school consists of three separate rectangular classrooms positioned in a row and raised from the ground like traditional granaries. The covered spaces between the classrooms evoke the traditional meeting places of Burkina Faso and can be used for breaks or outdoor instruction. We decided to support each building’s corrugated metal roof on a light structure of distinctive beams, rather than placing it directly on the supporting walls. Below the girders we placed a thin ceiling of clay tiles as an insulating and acoustic barrier beneath the metal roof. The overhanging roof shades the facades, keeps the rain and the sun away from the earth walls and allows cool air to flow freely between the roof and the ceiling. The east-west orientation of the structure further limits the extreme heating of the side walls by the sun. Together, these passive cooling systems help to maintain a pleasant internal temperature, even on the hottest days. Building the school was a true community effort. The villagers supplied most of the labor. The roof of the school was fashioned on—site and bent into its curved shape directly on the supporting truss. Traditionally, people shape




bricks for their houses by hand, in wooden frames. To make these clay bricks more stable, we introduced a simple machine, powered by two people, who formed the bricks in a mold and pressed them. In the classrooms, the floors are made of rammed earth stabilized by cement. The doors and shutters are made of steel, using a technology familiar to local craftsmen. Through these simple techniques, which exploit local materials and skills, the school raised awareness about the advantages of combining traditional and modern building practices. The process has had other rewards, too. Many of the workers who have been trained on site have since found employment as skilled laborers on construction sites outside Gando. Interest in education rose quickly after the school’s completion in 2001. Soon, too many parents had enrolled their children. This motivated us, together with the villagers, to expand the project. A school extension was built in 2007, along with appropriate accommodation for teachers. After the completion of these buildings, a women’s center, a secondary school, and a library were initiated using similar principles, enriched by experience gained through earlier construction. While the previous buildings are strictly rectangular, the library has an elliptical shape behind a straight facade of eucalyptus wood. This new element allows a buffer zone between inside and outside space, where the visitors can read in the shade. The library´s


building materials are mainly compressed earth blocks, but the ceiling construction and geometry is unique amongst the school’s buildings: it contains traditional clay pots embedded into its concrete structure to evenly distribute natural light and ventilation across the interior. The most recent initiative in the Gando project is the new secondary school, which will provide an extended level of education to the community. In March 2012, the secondary school and its passive ventilation concept were awarded the Global Holcim Award Gold, rewarding our team and the people of Gando for their dedication to sustainable architecture in the field of development aid. More important than this acknowledgement, these projects have provided the children of Gando with a platform to learn basic skills from which they and their families can benefit. The community’s commitment and self-organization has set an example not only for neighboring villages but has also provoked the local authorities to recognize the importance of projects of this nature. The significance of these projects extends farther than passive environmental design. The success of the school has united the inhabitants of Gando, by actively involving all the villagers, empowering the participants with new skills, confidence, and solidarity, and has helped the community confront the challenges and responsibility of building its own future.


Q: The school in Gando is your first individual architectural project. What is the basic design concept for this project? We developed an innovative air-cooling system only using natural ventilation: earth pipes are placed underneath the buildings and transport air, cooled by water, from outside directly into the rooms through holes in the floor. The warmed air escapes the classrooms through small openings in the clay ceilings. This natural ventilation is enhanced by planting on the roof and the use of double-skin facades which all together combined achieve a 5°C thermal reduction. The improved indoor climate and comfort are highly conducive to education. hat issues of ‘sustainable architecture’ Q: W did you address in this school project? We combined what we learned in Germany regarding modern construction techniques with traditional Burkinabé building methods; this led to a sustainable approach, because the technologies were adjusted to local requirements. The project emphasized the use of local materials, the adaptation of simple new technology, and maximized the potential of the local community. The use of local potential (both materials and labor) required a longterm commitment to the project. The villagers’ participation and the transfer of knowledge between trained workers and the community was essential. The project motivated the inhabitants of Gando to support the sustainable development of their future without external aid. The traditional techniques were enhanced by the input of modern construction methods and materials.


Q: How did the climate and culture influence the design of the school? The main local challenges - financing excludedconsist of the extreme climatic conditions and the abundant unconventional materials 323 (earth, clay.) There are heavy rains in the season and a burning sun most of the year. Such temperatures strongly influence the quality of learning and teaching since there is no air conditioning. The outer structure has to absorb the heat maintaining a cool interior and needs to resist erosion by the rain. The cultural influence is reflected through the school structure, which is inspired by the rural traditional homesteads of Burkina Faso: the classrooms are disposed in a circle and create a protected courtyard, giving repose from the hot sun and dust—filled Eastern wind. The structure is opened to the west and the cool breeze. Q: W hat led you to the choice of building materials and systems for the walls and roof? The choice of the material was determined by availability and cost. To ensure sustainability, we needed to use local, cheap, and abundant materials. The metal structures were adapted on site by local craftsmen. Traditionally, clay bricks are formed by hand in wooden frames. To make the clay bricks for the school more stable, we introduced a simple machine, powered by no more than two people, forming the bricks in a mold and pressing them. In the classrooms, the floors are made of rammed earth stabilized by cement. The doors and shutters were made of steel, using a technology familiar to local craftsmen.


1. Improving crossings at Chongqing, China: after (Courtesy Gehl Architects) 2. Improving crossings at Chongqing, China: before (Courtesy of Gehl Architects) 3. Improving crossings at Chongqing, China: after‌ after (Courtesy of Gehl Architects) 4. Creating unique sites at Chongqing, China (Courtesy of Gehl Architects) 5. By upgrading and extending the existing pedestrian network in the Chongqing to the new built metro, we improved mobility and quality of life (Courtesy of Gehl Architects) 6. Inviting people to use the city in a sustainable way is about making sustainable choices like walking and biking an attractive alternative and a daily quality (Courtesy of Gehl Architects) 7. Improving crossings at Chongqing, China: after (Courtesy of Gehl Architects) 8. Providing a design solution like good sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, and an efficient public transport system is only part of the answer (Courtesy of Gehl Architects)

Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen (Denmark & China) Architect, partner at Gehl Architects, responsible for Gehl Architects operations in China.

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Invite in 1:1 Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen Q: What is sustainability for you, and how do your clients respond to the issues of sustainability? When we look around the world today, there is hardly an architectural brief, a city, a mayor, a developer, or even a citizen who does not want a sustainable and livable city. This is good news, but the great challenge still remains: How do we realize this vision beyond words? I think we need to do at least three things. First, we need to understand people. Second, we need to invite through design, so we create cities where it is easy to save resources. Third, we need to rethink how are organize and regulate our city planning to support our vision. For me understanding people is really the key. Sustainability is about our lifestyle choices. It is about how we live our daily lives and as humans, how we base our decisions on our surrounding environment. We make our decisions on a 1:1 scale, and we choose a lifestyle that is convenient and inviting. Very few of us are idealists who always do the right thing, so we need cities that make it easy to do good. One way of doing this is to observe how different urban solutions influence people’s daily lives. We found that design solutions such as inviting public spaces, convenient sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, and efficient public transportation systems are part of the answer. However, the answer is also about scale, microclimate, safety, how buildings connect to the street, and how different urban functions connect to one another — simply all

aspects of the physical environment in our cities. It is about the quality of the environment and how it influences our desire to contribute to a sustainable city culture. With this knowledge we can invite people to live a sustainable life in a designed environment, saving resources rather than 327 wasting them. Globally, we still excel in building cities divided into vast mono-functional areas connected by large infrastructure. This leads to unsustainable co-dependent clusters, rather than self-sustainable independent neighborhoods or cities. The challenge is then addressed by adding wind turbines and solar panels to buildings, hoping to pass our buildings or cities as ‘sustainable.’ However, these superficial attempts waste resources, to




save other resources. It goes without saying that we should add all the green technology we can, but green technology does not create a sustainable urban fabric in itself; we need mixed-use neighborhoods, with welldesigned public spaces, short commutes, and green mobility choices. We can save resources by planning our cities more intelligently. Despite the fact that the city’s functions are co-dependent, the majority of planning is still based on twentieth century planning ideals. Each function was dealt with individually, given its own department in the city’s organization, and its own set of regulations. For example, there is a Traffic Department and a Park Department, while at the same time there are city and national standards for FAR and green rations. We need to rethink how city planning can be organized and regulated such that all city functions can be thought of as part of a complex system, where parts influence each other and individually contribute to a sustainable urban lifestyle. We can try to regulate how we use the city and we can make buildings more efficient. But if people don’t feel invited, safe, and welcome in the city or building, our efforts are rather meaningless. If we on the other hand accept and understand this, we have a good chance of creating cities that are both sustainable and livable. 4

Yet even though there is an almost global agreement concerning the vision, the challenge is how to span between the vision and the design decisions? Design can and will make a difference to our daily lives. We can only succeed if we actually understand and prioritize people in the design process of planning our cities. As we will never be able to master every detail of a city, we need to start by describing the qualities we want in our cities. Based on these qualities, we can then create a set of guiding principles that can be adapted to the local context and culture and guide cities toward a livable and sustainable future. Q: If you were asked to choose one or two of your favorite projects, which ones would you choose and why? How do these projects reflect your exploration of ideas such as environmental, urban / contextual, community, sustainability? One of my favorite projects we designed is a small street in Chongqing, China. In China we collaborate with the Energy Foundation on their Sustainable Cities Program. Our focus is on how urban development, public space, and public transport link to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. 5

China’s rapid urbanization presents a variety of challenges. However, from an urban perspective, one stands out: the fine grain street network of the cities has been replaced by roads in all new towns. Streets, which have been the core of the Chinese city and the hub of life, have been replaced with wide roads. Streets have been the key public space in China and the social, economic, and environmental backbone of the city. Social, because this is where the every aspect of society meets, despite economic and cultural differences. Economic, because this is where local economy is based and environmental, because this is where people walk and bike to connect to public transportation. Changing the streets into wide roads has had a devastating effect. In a country where 90% of the population does not yet own a car, the new towns are being entirely designed around the private car. The Chongqing project presented an alternative to this recent development and illustrated the qualities of the existing structure. The main goals were to extend and improve the existing micro-network of interconnected streets and connect it to the newly implemented macro network of metros in Chongqing. We hoped to revitalize street life, improve the quality of urban public spaces, and preserve a sense of choice 6

inherent in sustainable mobility. The project also illustrates how the success of a massive investment, such as a metro, is dependent on a relatively minor investment in the surrounding network for people. First, we surveyed the existing city structure. Then we created a framework of guidelines 329 which described the qualities and explained how these could be implemented. Based on these principles our local collaborators developed a design solution which expressed our vision. The result was embraced by the local community, and despite its small scale, was recognized by MoHURD (Ministry of Housing Urban and Rural Development) for its contribution to sustainability and the human environment in China. The project in Chongqing illustrated how holistic thinking saves resources, focuses on people’s lives, and can contribute to a sustainable and livable future. I think it is important to stress that if cities do not succeed in being livable, they will not be sustainable, simply because our personal environmental footprint depends on our day-to-day lifestyle choices. We need to design our cities, so they invite us to choose a sustainable lifestyle – make it easy to do good.




1. The residents’ rooftop allotments at One Brighton (Courtesy of Bioregional) 2. The community of BedZED in the village square surrounded by pedestrian streets, with car parking at the exterior of the development (Courtesy of BioRegional) 3. The Green Caretaker at One Brighton checking that the residents are using their rooftop allotments (Courtesy of BioRegional) 4. Bioregional staff taking a break for lunch, connecting with people and noticing the fine weather! (Courtesy of BioRegional) 5. The location of Hollerich Village, adjacent to the city center on an ex-industrial site and bordering schools, bus station, and local train station (Courtesy of BioRegional) 6. Public consultation event for Grow Community (Courtesy of BioRegional) 7. BedZED development (Courtesy of BioRegional)

Benjamin Gill (UK & Greece) One Planet Communities International Technical Manager at BioRegional. Ben is a Chartered Environmentalist with IEMA.

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From Eco to Happy Communities Benjamin Gill


n the nine years I have been working at BioRegional, I have noticed a distinct change in the emphasis in our work. BioRegional grew out of the environmental sustainability movement, but over time the focus of our sustainable communities work has shifted from environmental to social issues. A combination of factors, including global economic crises and obesity, mean that environmental issues have slipped down the agenda, but that the leverage of social issues has grown significantly. As an Englishman living in Greece I have found it interesting to compare the contrasting lifestyles and desires in these two countries. In Greece, or Athens at least (which accounts for more than 1/3 of the population), the lack of central planning and fragmented land ownership has led to families building isolated, fenced compounds and frequently hearing a noisy dog to bark at passersby. In the UK, where most development is planned from a high level, people increasingly feel lost in their anonymous neighborhoods far from their family. Here people yearn for the village – that mythical place we used to live in where we knew our neighbors, children played in the streets, and there was probably a pig out back to eat our leftovers. I think these contrasting aspirations are actually born out of the same desire, to live somewhere that has a genuine sense of community. In the UK the extended family is no longer the center of our community, and so people are looking elsewhere for community. There are places

where you can find strong community groups – resident groups, friends of the park groups, and school—centered activities, all helping to create this local ‘village’ sense of community. In Greece the family is still the core of people’s social circle (and welfare network), and I think these compounds are the result of a zealous 333 desire to defend that. BedZED – The Pioneer So how do we create communities where people can lead happy and healthy lives? My first involvement with this came at BedZED, where I worked out of the BioRegional office for five years. This iconic development was designed as a pioneering eco-development including: • Huge levels of insulation (300 mm of rockwool). • Integrated PV panels. • Both intensive and extensive green roofs. • Black-water recycling. • Extensive use of reclaimed and recycled materials. • A state of the art wood-fired cogeneration system (CHP) for heat and electricity. While hugely successful in many ways, there have been a range of ‘opportunities to learn’! The building fabric has worked well (with some overheating issues), but the technology has been less successful, with the CHP having to be mothballed and the black-water recycling shut down. Although the black water system worked well, it used significantly more energy than the local public water treatment plant. However, the other areas of significant success have been ‘sustainability services’

and the social and community spirit.


Facilities like cycle parking, lockers, and the first car club in London, mean that car ownership and average vehicle mileage is significantly lower than the local average for comparable demographic groups. Likewise, the recycling rates, the volume of waste produced, the food production, and the quantity of organic food purchased, show significant improvement over national averages. It is important to be clear that BedZED was not designed as a commune or cohousing development. It is a mixed development: one— third social housing, one—third affordable, and one—third private sale. Nevertheless, the sense of community is better than a ‘normal development;’ the average number of people that the residents know by name at BedZED is 20 compared to a local (and national) average of about eight. This research is reinforced by my personal experience of working there; every day that I left work, children were running around and playing in the car—free


streets with their parents standing by and chatting, a stark contrast to my house on a noisy, busy road where I do not know my neighbors. One Brighton – The Evolution Following BedZED, BioRegional was directly involved in the development of One Brighton. Building on our BedZED experience, we were aiming to improve performance where possible. Noticeable innovations in this 170— apartment development are: • Zero car parking (except for car clubs and disabled parking). • Zero carbon infrastructure through communal on-site wood heating, PV, and an Energy Service Company supplying renewable energy. • On—site food composting facility. • Innovative community management, including a ‘green caretaker’ as part of facilities management. • Rooftop allotments and higher quality communal space. A lifecycle analysis of the project has been undertaken, but cutting through the successes and challenges again we can draw out a range of key findings. Firstly, while BedZED came in over budget, One Brighton, which sold out at the height of the financial crisis, made a return on investment for the commercial developer, and out-performed comparable local developments. This is worth repeating One Brighton, one of the most sustainable developments in the UK, was a commercially profitable project. Currently market analysis shows that per m2 rental values are 25%

higher and overall rental yield 10% higher than locally comparable developments. Secondly, you can build and sell car-free developments commercially. While some people were positively attracted by the sustainability features, for the majority it was the link to a ‘twenty-first century healthy lifestyle’ that attracted people. Marketing is key to this – the message was, ‘Come and live at One Brighton. It is so conveniently located and managed, you don’t even have the hassle or cost of owning a car.’ Increasingly we see that owning goods, even goods like a car, is becoming an outdated concept, and the shift to leasing, co-ownership, or ‘collaborative consumption’ is really shaking up the economy. Finally, health sells! The role of town planning in creating our obesity crisis is now widely acknowledged, and people are increasingly looking for ways to integrate healthy living into their daily life. One Brighton, with its city center location and emphasis on walking and

cycling, gives this opportunity. One extreme example highlights this point: one couple moved into One Brighton, sold both of their cars, started cycling, and between them they lost 35 kgs in 18 months, positive proof that your choice of house can improve your health! A Science of Happiness? So the physical health benefits of sustainable communities are clear, but what about the psychological benefits, and do they actually make people happier? The concept of happiness is shifting from a vague statement to a more rigorous one (often called Positive Psychology). A definition of happiness is clearly challenging, but being a scientist, I love the way that some key proponents of the field have reduced it to an equation! Happiness = Set point + Conditions + Variables Set Point is our basic level of happiness due to our genes and childhood experiences – some people are miserable and others are happygo-lucky, and that just can’t be changed! The Conditions (of your life) are generally factors that are outside of our control. Classic examples of these conditions have a direct link to design and planning: • Noise – this can have a huge negative impact on people’s lives. • Commuting – driving to work in heavy traffic generally causes stress! • Lack of control – involving residents in design and ongoing management.


The condition that trumps all others is


interpersonal relationships, something that should be borne in mind when designing a development.


Variables can be described as the activities an individual can undertake that are likely to make them feel happy. I find the New Economics Foundation’s five steps a clear way of thinking about these: • Connect with people – phone a friend. • Be active. • Take notice – be aware of the light changing, the seasons, etc. • Keep learning. • Give – buying something for others gives us more pleasure than buying for ourselves. Try it. This has two clear messages for how designers can create happy communities: • Get the key conditions right. • Create a community that enables and encourages people to engage in activities which will increase their happiness.


3rd Generation One Planet Communities With the completion and ongoing learning from BedZED and One Brighton, I am supporting developers to create the next generation of communities based on BioRegional’s ten principles of One Planet Living. The ten One Planet Principles used as a framework for designing communities One of these is Hollerich Village in the center of Luxembourg, the country with the highest per capita ecological footprint in the world! Wealth (or more precisely inequalities in wealth) can be a barrier to sustainability in many ways, through increased consumption and a fear of crime leading people to seal themselves off from society. So what type of appetite for a lower consumption more communal lifestyle will there be there? The approach of the developer, the Schuler Group, is to put the building blocks of sustainable living in place from the start. They are setting up the first car-club in Luxembourg, establishing a One Planet Eco-Innovation Center on the site, and


and management of the site. On the request of future tenants, Asani has the contract to operate the day care center and residents will be allowed to volunteer at the Center. This reinforces the notion that if you involve people in the management of their community they 337 will want to play an active role.


plugging into the local Transition Network. While the designs have not been started in earnest, a One Planet Action Plan for the project has been developed outlining the key principles. These will include communal spaces for growing food, car—free streets, and restoration of the landscape. The public response is showing that even in societies with the highest consumption, the desire for a more community—based lifestyle is growing. A final example is the Grow Community in Seattle, where the response to the project has been so overwhelming that the first phase sold out immediately (at a rate 300% higher than other local developments), having been exclusively marketed through social media. The timing of the second phase was advanced. The details show just how much progress we have made. Grow has been attracting people from outside of Washington State and the US, and also a lot of older people who want to live in a more accessible, community—based environment. The developer, Asani, has been involving future residents in the planning

Summary In my work with design teams, I’m often reminded of something that Jan Gehl says his wife asked him: ‘Why do architects hate people?’ A great deal of my work is about trying to stop professionals from thinking like professionals and to think like individuals, residents, tenants — simply the people who will use the building. This approach helps to create communities that set the right conditions for health and well-being. From there it is up to individuals to find their own path to happiness – not even the best architect can force people to be happy.



1. Okeanos Building, Athens (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis) 2, 3, 4. New Acropolis Museum, Athens (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis) 5,6. Venus Marble Company, Koropi (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis) 7. Vorres Museum, Paiania (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis) 8. Gaia Environmental Research Center, Kifissia (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis) 9. Aspra Spitia, Boeotia (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis) 10. General Hospital, Trikala (Courtesy of Michael Photiadis)

Michael Photiadis (Greece) Graduate of MIT. He has designed some of the most prominent buildings in Greece, including the New Museum of Acropolis, as the partner architect with architect Bernard Tschumi.

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The New Acropolis Museum in Athens Michael Photiadis Q: In your capacity as an architect, which is for you the most meaningful aspect, and why? As an architect I have always enjoyed experimenting with different scales in my projects, both in planning and occasionally in teaching. The scope of an architect’s work is wide. Etymologically, the word ‘architect’ comes from the Greek archi = start and tekton = builder (or leader of a construction team) Since early childhood I could made myself understood through drawings. Soon ideas and narrative were expressed three dimensionally. Whether it was twig bridges spanning over a body of water for insect passages, or leaves spanning over earth canals reinforced with mud, to protect secret shelters. For an Athenian child growing up in early post-WW II years, there was never a shortage of essentials to create handmade worlds. Q: If you were asked to choose two of your

favorite projects, which ones would you choose and why. How do these projects reflect your exploration of ideas such as environmental, urban, contextual? The first building I would choose is the New Acropolis Museum in Athens on Aeropagitou 341 & Makrygianni streets, below and facing the Acropolis rock. The building successfully culminates a long process of fruitless competitions. After more than 30 years and three unresolved architectural competitions, a fourth – and final - international competition was directed by the Ministry of Culture and the Archeological Service. In September 2001, the first prize was awarded to the architecture team of Bernard Tschumi, NY and Paris, with Michael Photiadis, Athens. The purpose of the museum was to preserve and display the sculpture of the Acropolis, under the appropriate climatic conditions protected from the urban smog, within a museological and aesthetic display.




The Museum site exposes the excavations of the Athenian neighborhoods from Hellenistic (2nd c. BC) to early Byzantine (7th c. AD) periods. Visitors are guided among existing retaining walls. Part of the Museum is supported on pilotis above the archaeological excavations. The columns were located strategically, in collaboration with structural


engineers and archaeologists covering only 1.7% of the excavated area. The visitors tread on a low glass ramp, rising between two main structural cores. Each contains six elevators, four escalators, eight fire-escape stairs, installation passages, and rest rooms. The ramp leads to the eight meterhigh display hall. The second level presents the Archaic period and the Parthenon above. The all—glass Parthenon gallery crowns the building to our energy-splurging awarded proposition, with the Jury’s recommendation. This level’s axis was shifted by 23 degrees to give the frieze and metopes the same orientation as in their original location on the temple. The ultimate aim is to unite the divided frieze sculptures: the 160—meter-long Panathenian procession, divided between Athens (45%) and the British Museum’s collected ‘Elgin Marbles’ (55%). The two—level northern descent follows the Hellenistic and Roman statues, after the Parthenon gallery’s visit. The visitors’ museum stroll follows the Acropolis history, with a view to the excavations below, visible through the glass

floor. Auxiliary spaces include the caférestaurant mezzanine (named in 2014 one of the best international museum restaurants), the tiered 250—seat amphitheater, and the temporary Exhibitions gallery. The museum’s chosen site and design were heavily criticized. However, the proposed design presented solutions referring to the location, architecture, urban setting, energy conservation, and technical seismic design. Through the new museum, the Greek and international public reevaluates the power of Classical Greek art. Between 2009-2013, five and a half million people visited the museum. The building cost of €160 million was covered mainly from E.E. funds. The museum operating costs are covered entirely by the visitors: tickets, revenues from gift shops, and the café–restaurant. The museum does not receive any state or private support. The AIA (American Institute of Architects) awarded the museum the Best Design of 2011. The museum was also among the six finalists for the international ‘Mies Van de Rohe’ Architectural Award of 2010. In May 2013, among 50 international Museums, the London Times voted the Acropolis Museum the third most important, after the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and the British Museum in London. Project Credits Architectural Design: Bernard Tschumi Architects with associate Michael Photiadis Architect Architectural Team: J. Rutten, project architect A. Dayem, A. Dimitrakopoulos, J. Kim, E. Sopeoglou, K. Starr, A. Save de

Beaurecueil, J. Chace, R. Holton, K. Linker, V. Bontjes van Beek, L. Kim, K. J. Min, D. Holguin, K. Siderakis, C. Lee, L. Supp, N. Chatzimina, M. Metcalfe, J. Moore J. Aviles, G. Papadavid, A. Chee, T. Goowill, V. Descharrieres, C. Devizzi, G. Kriparakos, N. Bakalbassis, P. Photiadis, S. Photiadis, J. Peel, N. Plevri, M. Sarafidou, M. Grivas, H. Voutsina, M. Oikonomou Structural: ADK, M. Aronis, N. Petrovits with collaborators Ove Arup NY Installations: MMB R. Maris, P. Gourdouparis with lighting Ove Arup London Seismic: M. Constantinou Fire Protection: H. Schatterman Total Area: 23.000 sq.m. Study: 2001-2005 Construction: Themeliodomi 2003, ALTE 2005, AKTOR 2008 Photos: OANMA group, N. Danielidis, E. Attali, Militos group, M. Photiadis, and others. The second building I would choose is the Venus Marble Company Headquarters in Koropi, Attica – outside Athens. The new administration and showrooms were located within the 16,000 m2 industrial site, where three production buildings are located. The building’s image is inspired by the traditional Mediterranean marble quarries of Penteli and Dionyssos in Greece and of Carrara in Italy. The company has adopted advanced high technological methods of production, serving both archaeological restorations in Greece (the Parthenon, and Epidaurus), as well as contemporary buildings abroad (Casino hotels in Las Vegas, public and private




buildings in the Far East.) The company has production facilities and distribution centers in Greece, Bulgaria, China, Brazil, and California. The new headquarters building is clad in beige marble, tilted five degrees from vertical, on block-shaped zones. The deep elongated glass strips refer to the quarries’ vertical splices, protecting inner spaces from direct Mediterranean light. The ground floor entrance leads to a four-story void (including the first basement) with the first and second levels receding within. The canopy over the entry bridge directs visitors to the showrooms that expand to the first basement. A smooth water stream from the upper slab reaches the basement recycling water cistern, underlining the yielding power of water on marble. The first floor contains offices, accounting, and archives, and the second floor meeting rooms and administration. Personnel dining, kitchen, and services are located on the roof level. The total building surface is approximately 3,000 sq.m. At the WAF 10 (the International Barcelona Architectural Fair of 2010), the building was shortlisted as one of the Fair’s 10 Best Buildings.


Project Credits Architectural Study: Michael Photiadis Associate Architects Architectural Team: Michael Photiadis, S. Silitzoglou Structural: S. Liakris Installations: C. Tsekouras Bioclimatic: Prof. M. Santamouris Study: 2006 Construction: 2009 Photos: D. Kalapodas Q: When did you first get involved with issues of sustainability, and what was the catalyst? As an undergraduate at Oklahoma State University, I was greatly influenced by the organic aura of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Prairie Architecture. Later on, as a graduate Architecture student at MIT, my housing and urban courses professors – among them Koch, Aalvar Aalto, and Kevin Lynch - all put a special emphasis on sustainability. As a practicing architect, I tried to apply the principles I had learned at my first project — the Vorres Museum of Folk and Contemporary Greek Art, situated under Mount Hymettus in Attica. For the Vorres family, gardens and nurseries were important to the display of Art. In my design, the Museum interweaves green areas and atria, with the museum exhibition halls, hosting a remarkable collection that had been expanding for the past 40 years. Another project with an explicit environmental


agenda was the ‘Gaia’ Environmental Research Center of the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Kifissia, a historic suburb north of Athens, which opened in 2000. This project gave me the chance to experiment with solar and biomass energy production, and with natural ventilation through seven meter stacks. It is an internationally acknowledged project, awarded best bioclimatic design of 2012. There are other projects that I can list where our office takes a strong approach toward passive solar design, addressing issues of sustainability, whether in renewable energy production, or through design that attempts to address and solve social issues. Has your practice changed/developed Q: because of your commitment to sustainability? (Different clients, different types of projects, collaboration with other professionals.) An architect, like an orchestra conductor, deals with a variety of building aspects. Each new element that enters the total formula implementation makes the design better, more fine-tuned, and finally shifting the emphasis to the new dominating element. The new knowledge and solutions available to architects certainly shift our focus and make us more committed toward sustainability. Q: Which are the materials you use most (or recommend most) and how do you see


this choice of materials in your reading of sustainability? (local materials, transport costs, embodied energy, sustainable 345 growth, potential for recycling, thermal mass, energy reduction, insulation, etc.). I chose to work primarily with traditional materials, both for reasons of aesthetics, and also for reasons of cost and transportation – with their environmental repercussions. As architects, we keep an eye on new materials, primarily their insulating values, opening new opportunities for more efficiency and energy reduction.




1. ECOWEEK 2012 lecture at the University of Arkansas Rome Center (Courtesy of ECOWEEK / photographer Vincezo Mazza) 2. ECOWEEK 2012 participants at the bicycle sharing station prototype built by group W1, led by Elena Barthel, Dan Price, and Paolo Cascone, at Piazza Sta. Anastasia in Rome (Courtesy of ECOWEEK / photographer Vincezo Mazza)

Francesco Bedeschi (Italy) Architect and professor of integrated architectural design and historic preservation with the Italian Program of the University of Arkansas Rome Center, and member of the board of GBC Italia.

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Educating (Young) Architects in Italy Francesco Bedeschi


have been teaching architectural design in Rome for more than 10 years at the University of Arkansas Rome Center. Our center is one of the many study abroad programs that American universities have in Italy. The early years of my professional practice and teaching were characterized by a traditional approach toward architecture, in which the theme of sustainability was not emphasized as it is today. Certainly the respect for the environment and the attention to energy consumption have always been part of my cultural background, but in 2007, thanks to the opportunity of teaching at Mississippi State University in Jackson, Mississippi, something radical changed. I began to see architecture differently and, as a result, the way I teach changed. Mississippi is one of the most rural states in the United States and unfortunately one of the least progressive in terms of addressing environmental problems. Since the end of WWII, America has become the world’s largest economy, responsible for ever-increasing fossil fuel consumption, with a dramatic environmental impact. Discovering a strong and well structured ‘green’ movement in the U.S. in a social and cultural context so different from the models I was expecting inspired me to revise my beliefs in the way we do architecture in the twenty-first century. Most stimulating was an analysis of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and LEED, its rating tool for energy and environmental performance. I discovered - or rather rediscovered - between the lines of books advocating advances in design and construction techniques, many

of the good practices that are rooted in the wisdom of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. As a young Roman architect, raised and educated in the context and culture which has contributed so much to the history of Western civilization, I realized that this wisdom had simply been overlooked in 349 the name of progress. It was thanks to this personal and professional epiphany that I started to implement ideas of sustainability in the design and restoration classes I taught at the University of Arkansas (UofA) Rome Center, There is no better place than Rome to learn the foundations of sustainable design. Consider the timely thought of Vitruvius who, more than 2,000 years ago, in his famous treatise ‘The Ten Books of Architecture,’ clearly enunciated methodologies and principles of integrated design in harmony with the environmental characteristics of the site. These are principles intimately integrated into traditional building techniques and found in much of the Mediterranean basin. Even more important is the application of ‘new’ methodologies to adapt existing buildings, often of historical value. Upgrading existing building stock to meet contemporary energy and environmental standards is one of the most important challenges for European architects today. It is clear that it is not enough to mitigate the impact of big cities on the environment. It is not enough to simply build next—generation buildings. It is not enough even to produce energy in excess of that consumed. These are important yet small achievements when compared


to the millions of existing square meters built when environmental considerations were not an issue. The real challenge is to address these buildings, and it becomes even more challenging when these buildings have historic significance. Designers have to deal with complex problems at different levels. It is on these premises that I have recently proposed a specific course within the curriculum of the UofA Rome Center, designed to address the challenges of the restoration of ‘modern’ historic buildings and the issues of environmental and energy regeneration. I am convinced that this is a great opportunity for American students to take advantage of a study program in Italy to address complex current issues. The act of restoring and preserving a building of historical and cultural importance is itself an act of sustainability. Optimizing the use of the existing building stock, limiting the development of new land, and reducing the consumption of energy and water will benefit the community. Finally, from an educational point of view, this is a terrific opportunity to learn directly from the lessons of the past. Modern buildings with historical value have been designed by outstanding architects, the masters of that time, who tested wisdom too often ignored in recent times. Although for these masters, environmental concerns were not an emergency, they were well aware of the importance of design respectful of the site, the climate, local materials, the cultural and social context. The




Program hosted by the UofA Rome Center included 12 students from the University of Arkansas - Fay Jones School of Architecture in the United States. The design exercise we selected was the ‘Ex-GIL’ building designed by Luigi Moretti in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. It is one of the masterpieces of the Roman architect, an undisputed protagonist of the Italian Rationalism Movement. The building, designed in the 1920s, and defined by Moretti himself as ‘experimental,’ is a modern building. It is a very important building from an architectural, social and cultural point of view. One of the students, Nick Jabs, reported about the program, on the ‘Ex-GIL’ project, and the overall experience. Spending time in Italy is a great experience for anyone not from the country. It is, however, a particularly powerful experience to be a student from the rural Midwest of the United States to spend five weeks studying Architecture, sustainability, and preservation. These paradigms are embedded in the Italian culture. During my time in Italy I visited the Trulli of Aberbello in southern Italy. A whole community, still intact, built hundreds of years ago with local materials that can, and were intended to be, taken down in a short period of time and returned to the land, cradle-to-cradle at a scale hardly imaginable in the American landscape. In northern Italy, companies are creating new products that both clean the environment and provide a beautiful variation

to concrete, a material profoundly important to architectural and Italian history. During a visit to the GBC Italia headquarters and the Progetto Manifattura initiative, my colleagues and I were exposed to groups of young and energetic people who have been brought together and are creating opportunities for themselves and their region in the new green economy. Traveling in Italy provided one unique way to learn, but getting to conduct a design exercise in Rome allowed me to apply the acquired insights of sustainable products and practices through a real case study dealing with issues of history and memory, urbanism, sustainability, and preservation. The site of the Ex-GIL, an early modern architectural masterpiece designed by Luigi Moretti (during Mussolini’s Fascist rule), is rich with issues that are multifaceted and layered, literally, with Italian history. Compared to the short life of the United States, Rome has so much history that is constantly presenting itself, and this site is no different. For some

Romans the building stands as a memory of the country’s darkest time; for an architectural historian it is a shining example of the Italian contribution to the early modern revolution; for some it is their community center, and for others, a derelict neglected building out of context in its neighborhood. Together with 351 my colleagues we experienced all of these layers and propose our own — a symbolic and generative green community center in the heart of multiple Roman neighborhoods. The problem presented us with issues at every scale. From the role of street in the neighborhood, to the way a new material connects to old and its spatial implications. Ultimately, like Italian history, my experience was deep and rich. I will never be fully aware of its impact on me as a young American designer, but I am certain that I will benefit from the impressions and relationships I formed while in the ‘bel Paese’ in my future as a designer.




1. ECOWEEK 2012 workshop W1 participants building a bicycle sharing station prototype at Piazza Sta. Anastasia in Rome (Courtesy of ECOWEEK / photographer Vincezo Mazza)

Annalisa Metta (Italy) Landscape Architect at OSA Architetture e Paesaggio, set up in 2007 in Rome.

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Tips to Young Professionals Annalisa Metta 1. Be aware of your social role as a designer: to imagine and build a better habitat is an ethical commission you can’t disregard. 2. Be proud of being a designer: meanwhile, be aware that to design means to provide a service. 3. Be passionate: your project will never be truly good if you are not deeply and hopelessly involved in it. 4. Think about your project as a place for people to live, but at the same time be courageous not to make popular decisions. 5. Work hard to be competent: you have to be authoritative, but never authoritarian. 6. Work hard to preserve and develop your talent, because it’s not just yours. Your talent is a gift and an opportunity for everyone. 7. Always look around you: your project should always be synchronized with culture, art, society, economy, and contemporary technologies. 8. Always look around you: good ideas are sometimes where you could never think of looking for them. 9. Feel free to be wrong: risk, allow yourself to be uncertain; these are great moments of creativity. 10. Share, share, share your ideas, your tools, your desires, your ambitions, your knowledge, your skills, so that they increase and make prodigies.



1, 2: Center for Contemporary Music facades (Courtesy of Magdalena Malska & Dorota Wilczyńska) 3. View of Pavilion (Courtesy of Magdalena Malska & WAM Architecten) 4. Silesia Concept (Courtesy of Magdalena Malska / Photographer Izabella Bujak) 5. ECOWEEK 2012 in Krakow Press Conference (Courtesy of ECOWEEK )

Magdalena Malska (Poland & Germany) is an entrepreneur and an architect currently working at m3 architektur + design in Germany.

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Journey Through Architecture Magdalena Malska


agdalena Malska is a young practicing architect, a dynamic and energetic entrepreneur, organizer of ECOWEEK events in London and Krakow, and an inquisitive traveler of the world. This interview was conducted especially for this book.

Q: Can you tell us about your academic experience? I studied five semesters of Architecture and Urbanism at Krakow University of Technology. I experienced a feeling of imprisonment in a fixed academic structure and needed fresh ideas for architecture, different design techniques and processes to stimulate my professional development. So I decided to study a semester in Italy, at the Politecnico di Milano. I loved the city of Milan! Being in an unfamiliar context, my curiosity was provoked. I found people in Italy to be warm, passionate, and relaxed. They adore eating and treat talking as a form of art. While in Milan, I became aware and curious of what one sees and learns while traveling – impressions, feelings, smells, shapes, stories, and small surprises – inspiring me to dream of amazing forms of architecture! Being exposed to the richness of Italian history and culture I realized that this was just the first of many journeys to come. I am inspired by journeys. I sometimes visualize the world as a large research platform on which we can experiment with new ideas. Journeys often allow one to work through

ideas, understand them, and reflect on how the world works.... Traveling helps me to fully experience and understand architecture. For me photographers are like magicians: they can present buildings in different ways from how we experience them in reality. That is why it is so important to visit a building and 359 experience it in real life life and see how it interacts with its surroundings and feel its materials, textures and colors directly, not through the lens of the photographer. What the experience in Milan has taught me is that you can be inspired by anything.

an you describe a project that you did at Q: C the Politecnico di Milano? At the Politecnico I attended a course in architectural design by Professor Vincenza Lima. I felt I was free to design what I really wanted for the first time! The process was different from that which I knew in Poland: We worked in groups with a strong emphasis on research and analysis, and we spent a lot of time working with the teaching assistants. One of my favorite academic projects was the design for a Center for Contemporary Music in front of Lancetti Station in Milan. I worked on the project with my classmate Dorota Wilczyńska, then continued working on the same concept upon returning from Milan, developing the ideas further for my Bachelor thesis at the University in Krakow. Milan was the perfect city for this kind of project. It is a city with a rich artistic culture and a strong tradition in design and fashion. It is also the



home of the iconic La Scala Opera house. The idea of designing a Center for Contemporary Music in Milan with an adjacent interactive piazza near the Lancetti Station aimed to provoke new activities in the area and draw attention to diverse forms and types of music. Conceptually, the building was created as a container of music tubes. Each tube represented a continent. Within each tube one could listen to a certain type of music associated with a continent, while the space around the tube was dedicated to the culture and history of that continent. The space within the tubes housed specific activities – games, movies and music libraries. The staircase guided the visitor among the different tubes/continents. The Center had a variety of functions, such as a dance school, a vocal training school, a school of music, and a music shop. These spaces were joined by spaces for jam sessions, a mini-spa for music therapy, and others. The idea was that the center for contemporary music was not just a concert hall anymore. Instead, it was a place that

recognizes different kinds of music which mix, conflict, support, challenge, and penetrate each other in space.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional experience? After Milan, I kept looking for experience and new ideas through traveling. So, I found myself in the Netherlands, in WAM Architecten in Delft. It was quite an unusual experience. Imagine this: My boss was Wilfried van Winden, a total designer. He is tall, broad-shouldered, with a big nose and grey hair of medium length. He always keeps a funny little smile in the corner of his lips. He wears fancy suits and spitztype shoes covered by different patterns. His glasses are in fluorescent colors (pink and yellow). He has no computer drafting skills, but he is a master in freehand drawing! Tijmen Huetink was Wilfried’s right hand assistant. He has black short hair, dark anxious eyes; he is very kind, friendly and an



enthusiastic gadget-freak. He has no freehand drawing skills, but he is a master in computer drafting. The office was a space of 400 square meters – just for a small staff of three people! So you can imagine how impressive the place was! It had spider-like black lamps above the work space, a conference / meeting/ dining room with walls in medium blue and a dark long oval table, and funny shaped lamps like Turkish eye beads. On the walls, drawings hung of tho chickens and an alien looking down. At Delft I learned that unless you fit in, it is OK to skip the pattern!

Q: C an you describe a project that you worked on in WAM Architecten? I learned a lot at WAM. The creative atmosphere was stimulating, and doing a variety of tasks was truly motivating. At WAM Architecten I developed a proposal for an interior design that was exhibited at ‘Storefront for Art & Architecture’ in New

York as a part of the exhibition‚ ’Competitive Hypothesis.’ My favorite project was one that I developed together with Wilfried van Winden. It was the extension of an existing restaurant situated next to the Wolphaertsbocht road in Rotterdam. The idea was to create a new bar and pancake restaurant linked to an older building. The new structure not only opened toward the adjacent park, but it in fact extended the park as well. The building was designed to be constructed from wood, in an organic form. The roof is reminiscent of a simple hut with the windows cut out like a fairy-tale burrow, where animals make their home. The structure is conceptual, quite unusual, and a bit unreal.

Q: C an you describe a project where you explored aspects of sustainability? It is quite remarkable how architecture,


regardless of scale, can form and influence people’s lifestyles. If we place gym facilities in a park, people will use them. Once they make it a habit to use them, they will be more fit and healthy and they may end up spending more time outdoors and becoming more social. In the same way, the design of a landscape, and the colors, materials, and textures in a building interior can affect people’s mood. Recently I developed an interest in lifestyle and places for relaxation, such as touristic resorts and spas. The trigger was a private investor who was interested in building a new spa facility next to an existing hotel. I took the challenge as my Master Project at Krakow University of Technology. After graduating, I was invited by the investor to work on the same project as a real assignment! The objective was to create a new tourist site in Silesia, in southwestern Poland. The area has great potential; it has good infrastructure, a


new highway, great location near the border with Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and breathtaking landscapes of wild undisturbed nature. The idea we developed was to attract tourism by creating an extension to the natural settings, renovating the existing hotel, and providing new services. Nature in this area of Poland is overwhelming. This was perhaps my most profound experience with sustainability: the challenge to combine an intervention with the natural surroundings without disturbing the continuity and balance. I visited the site several times. What struck me each time I visited, was the bird song – most probably giving the name to the mountain ‘Hawks Mountain.’ This unusual combination of a spa with bird life was probably the most unique aspect of the hotel and spa. Beyond architecture, I learned about sustainability in my role as entrepreneur and organizer of the ECOWEEK conference and workshops in Krakow and London. Discovering and developing my entrepreneurial skills allowed me to be active and involved in my community and in the architectural scene of my city. Through organizing ECOWEEK, I felt I became actively involved in leading change in Krakow, addressing environmental issues, provoking discussion and search for alternative solutions. It gave me the opportunity to address issues close to my heart and to promote solutions by inviting talented architects to Poland to inspire



professionals and students through their work, knowledge, and expertise. Sustainability is also about reusing old buildings. In my country, it is considered controversial to damage or change an old building. But I believe that unconventional, creative ideas of renovation may provoke the community and produce an unexpected, unusual, and interesting result. As a student, one of my favorite concepts was to convert existing tenement buildings into temporary exhibition spaces used by local artists. I have designed one in Krakow, but I truly believe that the idea

can be applied anywhere. I want to work with a community to create a building that is constantly changing, giving the opportunity to local artists to be creative and expressive not only by using the building for their art work, but as a canvas by painting it both inside and outside. I like to imagine it, because anything you can imagine can become real!


1. Market in Istanbul (Courtesy ECOWEEK) 2. ECOWEEK 2012 workshop W1 in Rome (Courtesy ECOWEEK) 3. Gezi Park, Istanbul (Courtesy ECOWEEK)

Mehtap Leyla Turanalp (Turkey & USA) is a City and Urban Planner graduate of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul, currently working as a Research Assistant for Prof. Rafi Segal at MIT in Boston.Â

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Balance: It is in (our) Nature. Reflections of a Young Planner Mehtap Leyla Turanalp


was born and raised in Turkey. Turkey is a nation of rich cultural heritage and vast ethnic diversity. Anatolia, the Asian part of Turkey, is populated by Georgians and Lazs in the north, Armenians, Assyrians and Kurds in the east, Yuruks and Balkan immigrants in the south, Albanians, Bulgarians, and Greek immigrants in the west, and mostly Turks in central Anatolia. I grew up in southeastern Turkey. The 1990s were difficult years with a declared state of emergency and much violence. I remember that we were not permitted to play outside. Everyone was afraid. At the time I also experienced discrimination. In my hometown of Suruc we were confined within a small area that included our homes and the library. Books became my refuge, from which I could learn about what was going on in the outside world. Primarily, I was interested in people and nature. Nature fascinated me. I was drawn into reading books, as if doing some kind of research about nature, animals and plants, recycling and the environment. During family picnics, while my friends and family played, I collected trash in bags and chased butterflies – catching them, observing them, and then releasing them. As the civil violence subsided, my family moved to a quieter region near Istanbul. They wanted me to be well educated, an impossible task in my hometown. Going through the upheaval and violence of the 1990s, I could finally breathe the air of freedom, and could ‘officially’ register

as a student. I was free to pursue learning and research and to explore my passion for nature. I decided to study design and planning. Planning connected the manmade urban city with nature. Here I could not only seek balance, but develop balance. My search for connections also helped me develop my own identities and find a balance among them. I am an ecologist observing the relationships among plants, animals and their environments. I am an urban designer connecting people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. I am a planner drawing together the many strands of place-making, environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic viability into the creation of places with beauty and identity and a vision for the community. I also regard myself as a writer, sharing my observations and opinions in the printed press and on the web. Recently, I also discovered my passion for entrepreneurship and started organizing people and ideas. Joining the ECOWEEK workshops was instrumental in forming my identity and enriching my learning. I learned about balance and teamwork, and found many likeminded students and professionals to share my experience with environment, ecology, planning and design in a professional context. I participated in ECOWEEK for the first time in March 2011. It was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, a short flight from Istanbul. I was attracted by the opportunity to meet professionals, thinkers and students from all




over the world. The diverse perspectives in the workshop group excited me, focused into turning them into design solutions to real-life problems and real sites throughout the city of Thessaloniki. The experience was empowering. A student rarely has the opportunity to work on real. Full scale projects and have the design solutions implemented! For me, this was the ultimate practical learning experience as a student, and it gave me a lot of satisfaction and selfconfidence. The experience was so powerful, that upon returning to Turkey, I needed to share it with my peers at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. I knew that the majority of my peers, mainly for financial reasons, would be unable to attend ECOWEEK abroad. The only solution was to bring ECOWEEK to Istanbul! I decided to turn from an ECOWEEK participant to an ECOWEEK organizer. First, I had to convince the ECOWEEK board. Then we needed the support of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Once both approvals were in place, we started the planning process, which involved coordination of faculty and students. We also needed to organize a workshop

team in Istanbul as one of the international satellite workshops for the ECOWEEK 2012 in Krakow. The other two teams were Ukraine and Poland. The experience was positive, and the entire group was motivated. This led to the organization of a full scale, one-week ECOWEEK international conference and workshops in Istanbul, in November 2013. The event was hosted and coordinated by a team of faculty members at the Faculty of Architecture at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, headed by Dean Prof. Guzin Konuk and Vice Dean Prof. Sema Ergonul. At the university we learn that the people who influence the shape of the land are planners, architects, designers, and engineers. They are forming our cities. Often, political decisions blur the work of these professionals, ignoring the voices of those who articulate their vision to improve – or defend - public space, nature in the city, and the fine balance between the natural and manmade. If the balance is negatively affected, a day will come when people will find it unbearable and will react. They will try to reverse the destruction of the balance in order to maintain their health and well-being in the urban context. ECOWEEK was scheduled to take place in


June 2013. But then something happened. On May 27, 2013, there was a protest in Istanbul by people who demanded to protect a green space in the city. Gezi Park is an area inside Taksim Square filled with sycamore trees. It is one of the few green spaces left in central Istanbul. According to the redevelopment plans, approved by the government, much of Gezi Park would be replaced by concrete and traffic to ease the traffic around Taksim Square. Taksim has a dense urban fabric. It is fluid, irregular, open and unpredictable. It reflects the area’s historic identity as the heart of modern, multicultural Turkey. Taksim is the area where poor European immigrants settled in the city in the nineteenth century. In the 1930s, an Armenian cemetery was demolished and the gravestones were used to construct the stairs at Gezi Park, a Republicanera project by the French planner Henry Prost. In the 1980s it became a honky-tonk quarter, a haven for gays and lesbians, full of nightclubs, foreign movie theaters, and French-style covered arcades. Today, Taksim is a jumble of high-rise hotels, traffic circles, and the nowshuttered opera house, named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. For many people, especially the youth, Taksim is a symbol of modernity in an otherwise historic city.

The protests in May turned violent. By June 2013 the city looked like a battlefield – at least in the media - involving people of all ages, students, workers and professionals alike. ECOWEEK had to be postponed until the situation settled, and it took place in November 2013. The demolition of Gezi Park was canceled by a court decision in May 2014. Since the protest more people use Gezi Park. It seems as if people realized they have a right to the public space, and also a responsibility to keep it open and public. There are reading sessions and public activities throughout the day. The park has also become a tourist attraction! Gezi Park combines all the ingredients we as town planners and environmental entrepreneurs need to nurture and maintain: • Public participation in the planning process; • The protection of nature in the city; • A greater public awareness of the importance of public spaces and nature in the city; • Connections among different layers of the city – the history, the urban fabric, manmade and nature - and finally, • The responsibility to act when all other strategies have failed.



1, 2, 3. Sketches for ECOWEEK Greenhouse project at Amymoni, Thessaloniki, Greece (Courtesy of Dimitrios Farmakis) 4, 5, 6. Renderings of second floor garden at Amymoni, Thessaloniki, Greece (Courtesy of Dimitrios Farmakis) 7. Floor Plan of first floor garden at Amymoni, Thessaloniki, Greece (Courtesy of Dimitrios Farmakis) 8. Floor Plan of second floor garden at Amymoni, Thessaloniki, Greece (Courtesy of Dimitrios Farmakis) 9. Rendering of second floor garden at Amymoni, Thessaloniki, Greece (Courtesy of Dimitrios Farmakis)

Dimitrios Farmakis (Greece) is a BIM Consultant at Solvia Studio, and BIM Engineer at ALICE Technologies, member of ASHRAE, and the Design Build Institute of America.

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Meaningful Synergies Dimitrios Farmakis Meaningful Roles… Design stage: I view it as the most important stage of a building’s life, because it has the largest impact on the outcome. It encompasses multifaceted work and effort — from architecture and planning, to the engineering and socioeconomics. When we design an object – or a building – it must fulfill certain needs and criteria. However, if we want our design to be complete, a meaningful collaboration from the early stages of design is essential, encompassing many minds and stakeholders. In this collaboration, all voices are equally meaningful, as it is the ‘synergy’ that makes the difference. Unusual Processes… I do consulting work in Greece. My primary goal is to inject technical rigor and added value early in the design stage through BIM (Building Information Modeling) and the Integrative Design process. The BIM tools available today are sophisticated and a challenge to learn as they propose a radically different approach to building design and management. However, to get Greek professionals to use them is the real challenge. Add in the aspect of the economic crisis, and the task instantly becomes more troublesome. The explanation may lie with the fact that most Greek professionals are not used to working within an ‘interdisciplinary collaboration,’ where sharing information is essential. It is as if they have developed allergies against destabilizing their working routines, and relying on their experience, rather than constantly updating their technical expertise. So although the technological

platforms facilitating integration (i.e. Autodesk Revit) have made their appearance on the world market for more than a decade, most Greek professionals are unwilling to adapt to the new tools and rather stick to the ones with which they feel familiar. From my own observation of how fast the tools 373 for the design professions develop, it seems obvious that Greek professionals will either have to change their mindsets and attitudes, or they might find themselves professionally outdated and… maybe out of work.





Society + Economy + Design + Sustainability = Integration I first experienced the integration of disciplines at Stanford University. As a graduate student, I participated in an interdisciplinary class on Sustainable Development. The class, taught by Glenn Katz – Autodesk AEC education specialist and Stanford University lecturer – offered a holistic view of crisis—relief projects in Haiti. It covered diverse aspects of architectural design, structural engineering, construction, and sustainability, as well as economic and social outreach. Integrating all of these different disciplines was challenging, not only for our professor but also for us as students. We came to the class with rigid expectations, stemming from our experience in other classes within our disciplines, not knowing how people would respond and how they would affect the group. The initial rigidity soon gave way to an attitude of cooperation and sharing. The outcome was far beyond our expectations. Students not only responded well to the interdisciplinary environment, but they found the exposure to the debate outside their discipline particularly refreshing and interesting as well. The group engaged every student, regardless of their background or discipline, at every

stage of the process, involving the entire group from design and engineering to socioeconomics and environment. Everyone in the group had the opportunity to be engaged hands-on and experience the value of each phase of the project throughout its lifecycle. Professional Integration… Integration and multidisciplinary cooperation work well not only in the academic environment, but in the professional practice as well. This is what I try to explain to my clients and key stakeholders; in each and every project the ‘hands-off’ oconventional design approach is inefficient. It is prone to error and will involve a lot of redoing. Bringing all the team participants together as early as the conceptual design stage will give them a better perspective on the overall design scope and in particular the building envelope. Once the team works together, meetings occur at every stage (schematic design, design development) aiming to gain more insight and avoid incompatibility. Through this multidisciplinary process, the building is understood as a ‘living form,’ rather than an accumulation of independent systems. As a result each consulting professional (i.e. structural engineers, mechanical engineers, construction people, etc.) design and model


the materials and systems needed, based on an overall understanding of the building. In contrast, following the conventional design process, where each professional is isolated in their own discipline without an integrated understanding of the building and the other disciplines, incompatible or clashing building elements are discovered late in the process, leading to changes, added cost, and delays. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to convince engineers and investors in Greece of the value of early—stage collaboration, made possible through BIM tools. Tools may help visualize and collaborate. However, in order to bring them into the process to increase communication among the different disciplines and professionals, time and effort is needed to alter the existing, deeply rooted professional culture in Greece. Materials… Greek professionals may be slow in adopting new tools, but Greek tradition, over the course of centruries, has developed brilliant bioclimatic solutions, the result of generations of development of ideas and work with local materials. When energy was not readily available, less energy was used to transform raw materials into usable building products. Furthermore, as most materials

were local, less transportation was involved. These local materials can still be used today. New designs can borrow from the richness and wisdom of traditional bioclimatic design, construction techniques and local materials. For instance, the ‘yposkafa’, or in-cave/ rockhewn (in Greek: υπόσκαφα) houses in Santorini offer an outstanding example of such design principles. Hewn into the volcanic soil of the cliffs above the sea, these houses have vaulted ceilings, narrow facades, and no foundations. They are made of stone (red or black) and Terra Theraic (Theraic earth) which, along with lime, form a strong plaster. The Theraic earth has insulating qualities, keeping rockhewn houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The houses get light and air from the main entrance and the two windows framing it. Built areas are roofed by domes or cross vaults. Moreover, this construction method allows for the creation of diverse, yet harmonious forms. Green Misconceptions… Despite misconceptions by both investors and professionals, published research estimates that upfront costs for a green building are no more than 5-8% on average. An integrated design process assisted by BIM tools enables a more efficient and holistic approach, which in turn further reduces initial




costs considerably. After the upfront costs, a green building has considerable savings and a short period of return on investment during the operation of the building throughout its lifecycle. As the level of savings depends on the operating standards of the owner/ occupants, it is our responsibility as architects and designers, to guide and educate our clients. We need to help them understand

the importance of their role in reducing the energy consumption of the building by nearly 50%, regardless of the technology or level of automation. In that regard, BIM design and simulation tools can play a role, as they can provide powerful visualizations and energy monitoring and facilitate energy management during the operation and maintenance stage.




Personal Reflection – Advice‌ I believe that sustainability is a culture and a mentality. It is not a fashion or a means of attaining social status, and certainly not a way of making money. Sustainability requires patience — patience with clients, some of whom are well informed and ask complex questions demanding responsible replies. There are several barriers to the adoption

of sustainable design principles, mostly ignorance. This is why our task is also to clearly convey the benefits and costs of sustainable practices and explore ways to achieve those goals.



1. Natural light at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, Spain (Courtesy of ECOIST) 2. Renault Twizy: 100% electric car (Courtesy of ECOIST) 3. ECOWEEK 2012 in Belgrade at workshop team W4 (from left to right): Landscape architect Raffaella Colombo, Jelena Lucic (ECOIST), architect Ivan Mengov, and Hans Buster (Vitaverde) (Courtesy of ECOWEEK) 4, 5. ECOWEEK 2012 in Belgrade workshop scheme W1 led by Andreas Nassos (Vitaverde) at the court of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (Courtesy of ECOWEEK) 6. ECOWEEK 2012 in Belgrade workshop scheme W2 led by Ana Nikezic Nassos (Faculty of Architecture, Belgrade University) titled ‘Garden To Go’ (Courtesy of ECOWEEK)

Jelena Lucic (Serbia & China) is the founder of NGO ECOIST based in Belgrade, Serbia, with the mission to improve urban sustainability. Jelena is currently developing new marketing strategies for a company in China.

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Interview Jelena Lucic


erbia, as a country in transition, is trying to keep up with Western and more developed countries. Certain assignments are easier than others, but some appear more confusing than they should. Sustainability is one such issue. However, on a closer look, is it a priority? If we observe the past and our neighbor’s experience, could it be that our government is just interested in current trends, rather than addressing the challenges of the society itself? Nevertheless, there are individuals and organizations that understand the importance

of sustainability in its pure meaning and are willing to contribute to change. They are ‘the pioneers,’ dynamic, vibrant people focusing their energy and knowledge on solutions for a better tomorrow. The characteristic of these creative minds is their willingness to believe in their ideas and the importance of the 381 task. One such active participant is the nongovernmental organization named ECOIST, based in Belgrade, and its founder Jelena Lucic. Jelena told us the story of ECOIST, about their activities and events, all organized with the same goals in mind: to educate, inform, and contribute to achieving urban sustainability.



Q: ECOIST was established in 2010 as a NGO focused on issues of urban sustainability in Serbia, building the connection among governmental, academic, civil and corporate sectors. How would you describe the connection that you established during the last three years with all segments of modern Serbian industry and society, and what is the response to your activities? You know the expression ‘The idea is king’? Indeed it is, but vision is more powerful. When you present your vision to anyone - from a small kid in primary school, to an executive in a corporation - they will recognize the spirit, energy, and potential change of one’s vision. The connections, partnerships, and bridges ECOIST has built over the years are based on these visions and common goals. The synergy between sectors actually comes down to the recognition by a couple of principle decision makers. If they share your vision, understand the challenges, and believe that indifference and the status quo are the worst alternatives, we can achieve our goals. Q: What inspired you to create this type of organization? The desire to make things better. I was brought up to act in sustainable manner, and perhaps I was lucky to have this nurtured by my family. I realized that sometimes this culture is lacking in schools, universities, public organizations, and companies. This is true in many countries, not only in Serbia. After my work as an executive in an international consulting and trading business for about 10 years, I had an urge to do something more, to do something

meaningful. I know this is cliche, but this is really what happened. Q: One of the projects that ECOIST organized in the last few years was a project for the design of Green schools. What can you tell us about this project and its implementation? The Green Schools project happened spontaneously, after we organized a very intense three-day Master Class workshop, with around 40 students from different universities. The coordinator, Hans Buster, was fantastic. Some students asked us to continue working on the project. We could not pass up this opportunity and their enthusiasm, so we established the ECOIST Creative Network, which now acts as an almost autonomous organization. The Green Schools project was the first of the ECOIST Creative Network. The pilot project was the primary school of Drinka Pavlovic in Belgrade, Serbia. The goal is to provide sustainable solutions for spaces in schools adapt them to modern and empirical learning, and to enhance creativity and sustainable behavior by school children. We want not only to provide a healthier and


more bio-diverse environment, but to publicly advocate for innovative green building solutions like vertical gardens and green roofs as well. Q: ECOIST is specializing in training, organizing workshops, and delivering practical green solutions with a wide network of NGOs, R&D institutions, Universities and private companies. What particularly attracts your attention when deciding on a new project? It’s simple. We have our eyes and ears open for all opportunities, and then we go for whatever captures our imagination. If you are going to spend a third of your life doing something that you cannot relate to and don’t enjoy doing, then you are wasting your life. We often choose projects that have the largest impact and that make a difference for our target group. An example was our collaboration with ECOWEEK. It is about giving young people a chance to prove themselves and utilize their creative potential.


Q: T his is the first time that the international ECOWEEK event has been organized in Serbia and Belgrade. What was your impression of the lectures and the workshops after they were completed? ECOWEEK turned out to be fantastic, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of 383 the participants. The feedback was positive and people were inspired. We just put it all together, but the participants were the real stars of ECOWEEK. It is an honor to organize an international event like ECOWEEK. We will definitely do it again! Q: Y ou visited the workshops, observed the process of the design and finally saw the presentation of the projects. What was your impression of the atmosphere, the work process, and the final results? We visited all nine workshops during ECOWEEK, with Hans Buster as our workshop coordinator and Elias Messinas, the Chairman of ECOWEEK, as we were helping teams reach better results. It is important to have an objective critic who is not coming from within the group. We had one person from the ECOIST Creative Network responsible for each workshop helping out when necessary. I think it is common that people forget that the longest, and possibly the most difficult parts of teamwork are synchronization and planning. After you have a coherent group and a group that agrees on objectives, the process flows almost by itself. Once teams realized this, they became productive and efficient, producing fantastic and innovative solutions.



Q: What do you find most important for the workshop participants: collaboration with other members of the team or the experience of working on real locations with real problems? The feedback we received from the questionnaires showed that participants had different motives. Some were interested in a different design experience, others to work with international teams; others were seeking a chance to do something meaningful, and others a chance to do a real—life project. Some were simply looking for an opportunity to upgrade their CV. We really enjoyed mentoring young and creative teams, especially to give them experience they can use in the future when applying for work. We know how hard it is for someone without any experience to find employment. We have been there as well. Q: What is the most significant contribution of ECOWEEK to Serbia and Belgrade? The projects that were designed during the workshops, the lectures, or the opportunity for young people to cooperate with their international colleagues and get valuable work experience? It’s definitely a mixture of all these. Of course, it is important to get projects implemented, like the primary school Drinka Pavlovic, or the Center for protection of children and youth

‘Zvecanska,’ or at the USCE Shopping Center. All this is fantastic and will certainly have some effect on sustainable development in Belgrade, although these projects are not about major changes. Their value is in bringing positive change within local communities, before they lead to international recognition. However, I think that the most valuable contribution is generating enthusiasm among young people. This is what will create the domino effect in the future, and I know that some people will take the initiative and start networking with others to create great stuff - not only in Serbia, but who knows, perhaps worldwide! Q: How would you imagine the implementation of sustainable development and the green design principles for the future in Serbia? As a goal. I think Serbia has a unique opportunity to leapfrog into a more sustainable future. We don’t have to take the step-by-step approach that other countries took early on. I think knowledge transfer should be nurtured, and I believe that people are smart enough to accept it. Development should be seen as a long-term endeavor. Short-sighted policies should be eliminated from all levels and sectors of our society. Q: For a short period of time the ECOIST organization successfully organized several major events in the region such as the first International Green Build Conference in 2011 and the first Belgrade ECOWEEK in 2012. Could you tell us about your future plans?

First of all, thank you for this compliment. Although we raised some issues for the first time in Serbia, there are lots of organizations that are dealing with these and other ‘hot’ subjects. However, we try (and mostly succeed) to wake people out of their indifference. There are many events where we hear the standard presentation, where the audience has five minutes for questions, after which everyone goes home and forgets all about it. This to me is a waste of resources - time, money, and above all intellect. We address this problem by using modern technology, and innovation in presentations, and although our speakers are fantastic, we limit their presentation time. After each short lecture, we leave a lot of time to interact with the participants, because they are the reason we organize the events.

This is not only important for participants, it is important for our development as well. We need to see how people think, what they are curious about and their concerns. Our current plans are focused on following up on the ECOWEEK workshop, such as setting 385 up a permanent implementation platform called the ECOWEEK GREENHOUSE. We have many people interested, so we expect to see some wonderful work in the future. Our next big planned event is the Sustainable Cities Forum. We will have representatives of the leading sustainable cities in the world and our audience will be from South Eastern Europe. We anticipate this to be a very important and interesting initiative.




David W. Orr (USA) The Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College and Executive Director of the Oberlin Project, he is the recipient of seven Honorary degrees and other awards, including The Millennium Leadership Award from Global Green, the Bioneers Award, the National Wildlife Federation Leadership Award, and a Lyndhurst Prize acknowledging ‘persons of exceptional moral character, vision, and energy.’ He has lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Europe. His career as a scholar, teacher, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur spans fields as diverse as environment and politics, environmental education, campus greening, green building, ecological design, and climate change. He is the author of seven books and co-editor of three others. He is presently the Executive Director of the Oberlin Project, which is focused on making the City of Oberlin a model of full-spectrum sustainability and replicating that effort through a National Sustainable Communities Coalition. David Orr was among the world experts featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary, The 11th Hour on climate change. Elias Messinas is an architect, educator, and environmental consultant. He is graduate of Yale School of Architecture and Bezalel Academy, with a doctorate degree from the National Technical University of Athens. He is a consultant for ‘green’ buildings and teaches sustainable design studio and workshops among others at the MAXXI, HIT, Technion and Patras University. Elias is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He is the founding chairman of ECOWEEK and editor and senior writer of ECOWEEK printed and digital content. Elias is the author of numerous articles on architecture, sustainability, and historic architecture, author of two books on the synagogues of Greece (Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 2013, and

Gavrielides Editions, Athens, 1997). Dan Price is an architect graduate of the Technion Institute of Technology, Haifa, and the Porter School for Environmental Studies at the Tel Aviv University. As the partner of architect Ada Karmi-Melamede, he worked on numerous projects of various scale, from private houses, to public buildings and university campuses. For over a decade Dan taught at the Azrieli School of Architecture of Tel Aviv University and currently teaches at the Technion in Haifa. He is co-author with Ada KarmiMelamede of Architecture in Palestine during the British Mandate, 1917-1948 - Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2011 (Hebrew) Israel Museum, 2014 (English). He is a principal of Price, Piltzer, Yawitz Architects practicing in Tel Aviv. In addition to his academic activity, Dan is pursuing a PhD, focusing on the social housing projects built in Israel from 1948 to 1967 as a model for sustainable housing. Julie Bargmann (USA) Internationally recognized as an innovative designer in building regenerative landscapes with interdisciplinary design education. She leads projects at the D.I.R.T. studio (Dump It Right There) that explore past and present industrial operations and urban processes in relationship to ecological systems, cultural constructs, and emerging technologies. She holds a degree in sculpture from Carnegie-Mellon University, Masters in Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design, followed by a Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She was awarded the 2001 National Design Award by Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum. TIME, CNN and Newsweek, along with national and international design publications, have recognized her as leading the next generation in making a difference for design and the environment. Bjarke Ingels (Denmark & USA) Started Bjarke

Ingels Group (BIG) in 2005, after co-founding PLOT Architects in 2001 and working at OMA in Rotterdam. Through a series of award-winning design projects and buildings, Bjarke Ingels has created an international reputation as a member of a new generation of architects that combine shrewd analysis, playful experimentation, social responsibility, and humor. He has received numerous awards. Bjarke has been active as a Visiting Professor at Rice University’s School of Architecture and most recently at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Bjarke currently holds a guest lecturer position at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Françoise-Hélène Jourda (France) Award-winning architect, Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, and a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. She has been teaching Architecture since 1979, at the École d’Architecture de Lyon, France, École d’Architecture de Saint-Étienne, France, the School of Architecture in Oslo, Norway, University of Minessota, USA, the Polytechnic of Central London, UK, the Technical University of Kassel, Germany, and since 1999 at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. Michael Sorkin (USA) Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the City College of New York, Michael Sorkin is principal of the Michael Sorkin Studio, an award-winning architecture and urban design practice in New York. From 1993 to 2000 he was Professor of Urbanism and Director of the Institute of Urbanism at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In addition to writing innumerable articles on architecture and the built environment, he has authored Variations on a Theme Park (1992) and Indefensible Space: The Architecture of the National Insecurity State (2007). Sorkin is the

founder and president of the non-profit Terreform and chairs the board of directors of the Institute for Urban Design. Marta Pozo (Holland & China) Architect and licensed BREEAM assessor. Director of MVRDV Asia. She has been working with MVRDV since 2007 387 where, in addition to her role as a Project Leader, Marta leads MVRDV’s Sustainability Department. By forming environmental strategies and energyefficiency guidelines for each design process, Marta ensures a high standard is maintained for all of MVRDV’s projects. Marta has been involved in the conceptualizing and execution of projects of various scales, among them the design team for Montecorvo Eco City in Logrono, Spain, and a dense urban master plan in Bordeaux, France - an ambitious ‘eco-quartier’ where all energy consumed by the master plan will be produced onsite. Marta has received degrees from Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain (2001) and TU Berlin, Germany (2004). She lectures regularly and has won several awards. Kengo Kuma (Japan) Architect graduate of the University of Tokyo and Columbia University. He established Kengo Kuma & Associates 1990. He taught at Keio University from 2001 to 2008, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008, and in 2009, he was installed as Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Tokyo. He was awarded the International Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award in 2002 (Finland), International Architecture Awards for the Best New Global Design for ‘Chokkura Plaza and Shelter’ in 2007, and Energy Performance + Architecture Award in 2008 (France). He is an International Fellow of RIBA, UK, and Honorary Fellow of AIA. Kengo Kuma is also a prolific writer / critic and his books have been translated into English, Chinese, and other languages.

Annalisa Metta (Italy) Landscape Architect at OSA Architetture e Paesaggio set up in 2007 in Rome. OSA integrates buildings and urban planning, indoor and outdoor spaces, and people’s behaviors through architecture and urban design. 388

Braha Kunda (Israel) Architecture and Environmental Design Senior Lecturer and former Head of Interior Design Department at the Design Faculty HIT - Israel. She is a graduate of Bezalel Academy and has a Masters degree from Rice University, Houston, USA. Braha has professional and academic experience in total architectural and environmental design of housing, commercial, and public projects in a wide range of scales. Major interest in contextual design related to social and cultural challenges. Ivan Redi (UK & Austria) Principal of ORTLOS Space Engineering based in London and Graz, founded in 2000 as a network of interdisciplinary partners. Within the trans-disciplinary framework of ORTLOS projects, which constantly expand the boundaries of classical architectural fields by using cutting-edge technologies, there is a strong emphasis on advanced environments, energy efficiency, and regenerative architecture. Their work has been published and exhibited worldwide. Mr. Redi is currently teaching at Graz University of Technology, Bartlett University College, London, and lectures around the world. Richard Ingersoll (Italy & USA) Born in California in 1949, Richard earned a doctorate in architectural history at UC Berkeley, taught at Rice University from 1986-97, and currently teaches at Syracuse University in Florence (Italy). He is an advocate for Agricivismo, the social application of urban agriculture. From 1983-98, he was the editor of Design Book Review. His recent publications include: Architectures of the World. A Cross-

Cultural History of the Built Environment, 2012, Sprawltown, Looking for the City on its Edge, 2006, Global Architecture, 1900-2000. A Critical Mosaic, Volume I: North America, USA and Canada, 2000. He writes criticism for Arquitectura Viva, Lotus, and Bauwelt. Thomas Doxiadis (Greece) Architect and Landscape Architect, ASLA. Graduate in Architecture and Landscape Architecture from Harvard University (1998), and BA Harvard University (1992). He has taught as Associate Professor at the University of Patras and University of Thessaly, and as Assistant Professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Thomas was a manager of the Organizing Committee of Olympic Games Athens 2004 (1999-2003) and held the position of Agency Director of Planning and Environmental Protection of Athens (1999-2001). Thomas heads the consulting firm doxiadis+. Galia Hanoch-Roe (Israel) Graduate of the Landscape Achitecture program of Rutgers University, and Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts from Yale University and CUNY graduate school, is Director of the Tel-Aviv–Jaffa Metropolitan Area Chapter of Society for Protection of Nature, Israel. Practiced landscape architecture at Looney Ricks Kiss, Princeton, NJ, and ‘Tichnun Nof’ Israel. She has studied Permaculture and Sustainable Design in Mexico, US, and Israel, and participated in the ‘Ministers Project’ - a joint project of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environmental Protection, leading the process with 12 agricultural educational farms in Tel Aviv and central Israel to design and build educational facilities in the farms and establish programs on sustainability for students. She has taught at the University of Haifa. Maria Luisa Palumbo (Italy) Architect and senior fellow of the McLuhan Program in Culture and

Technology of Toronto University, author of New Wombs, Electronic Bodies and Architectural Disorder (Birkhauser, 2000) and Architettura Produttiva. Principi di Progettazione Ecologica (Maggioli 2012). Since 2003, she has directed the Master di Architettura Digitale at the Italian National Institute of Architecture (IN/ARCH) in Rome. In 2004 she founded Romalab, Laboratorio di Architettura Relazionale, a research laboratory focused on the issue of public space and the research regarding new strategies for the development of the contemporary city. Her essays have been published in several collective books. Since 2010 she has collaborated with Domusweb. Jan Johansson (Denmark) Architect from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He graduated in 1993 and has participated in master classes in Barcelona. He has worked in numerous studios, as well as independently. Jan has worked with a housing association, a municipality and project developer at two companies in Copenhagen. Since 2007 he has been a lecturer in architecture and sustainability of the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA). Jan has been a visiting lecturer at Politecnico di Milan Bovisa since 2010. Gil Peled (Israel) Founder of Eco-Challenges Sustainable Design & Consultancy, has pioneered sustainable retrofits of existing residential buildings in Israel. Gil graduated from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, with a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Architectural Studies on Sustainable and Affordable Housing and with an MSc., with distinction, on transformations of Sacred Buildings and Spaces. Gil is a member of international organizations pursuing sustainable development and has lectured at international venues in the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, and South Africa.

Ulf Meyer (Germany) Architect, senior associate at the architecture office of HENN in Germany, and former partner in the architecture office of Ingenhoven Architects. Graduated from the Technical University (TU) of Berlin as Master of Architecture, and studied abroad at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, Ill. with 389 the international IIT Fellowship and the Academic Scholarship of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is Distinguished Hyde Chair of Excellence for sustainable urban design at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln. Ulf is a member of the FuturArc Forum for Green Building in Southeast Asia and Australia, correspondent for Central Europe for World Architecture magazine, London, UK, and Editor at ‘archplus’ architectural magazine in Berlin. Ulf has lectured at universities all over Europe, the USA and Canada as well as Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. He has taught at the Bauhaus Graduate School of Design in Dessau, Germany, and at summer schools with the Middle Eastern Technical University of Ankara, Turkey, the Georgia Institute of Technology of Atlanta, Georgia, the Rice Design Alliance of Houston, Texas, and the University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas (USA). Elena Barthel (USA & Italy) Came to the Rural Studio from the School of Architecture of the University of Florence in Italy, where she graduated in 1999, and recently accomplished her PhD with the thesis ‘Design & Build at the Rural Studio: the education of the Citizen Architect.’ While she runs her private practice in the historical center of Florence Santo Spirito, a well-known craft district, she has taught at the Department of Urban Design of the University of Florence, the Architectural Association in London, and led the Auburn University Study Abroad in Florence for the academic year 2010. In 2008-2009 she taught the Second Year Studio at the Rural Studio as Visiting Assistant Professor.


Isaac Meir (Israel) Desert Architecture expert born in Thessaloniki, graduate of the Technion Institute of Technology and Associate Professor and former Chair of the Desert Architecture & Urban Planning, and Dept. of Man in the Desert of the Ben Gurion University. He has published widely in several languages and has been Visiting Lecturer at Environment & Energy Studies, AASA, London, and Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University.

have established a new benchmark for academic buildings in Israel.

Vasileios Ntovros (Greece) Architect graduate of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with graduate studies at IAAC-Barcelona. He is the founding member of lighting team BEFORELIGHT. He has participated in F451arquitectura-Barcelona, and the sixth Biennale of young Greek architects with the passive solar design Crack-Printing Press. He practices sustainable design and the use of digital tools in construction of energy-autonomous buildings.

Barak Pelman (Israel) Graduate in Architecture from Tel Aviv University, Helsinki University of Technology, and completed the MSc programme in Sustainable Environmental Design at the Architectural Association Graduate School in London. Worked as an architect at the architectural firm of Israeli Prize laureate Ada Karmi Melamede, and at Prewett Bizley Architects in London. He taught at the Architectural Association Graduate School and today he is a lecturer at the Architectural Department of Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. Barak won several design awards and has exhibited works at the Helsinki Museum of Architecture and the International Biennale of Landscape Urbanism in Bat-Yam.

Joseph Cory (Israel) GEOTECTURA Studio is an award-winning design practice that offers comprehensive services, including architecture, interiors, and environmental simulations. Established by architect Dr. Joseph Cory, Geotectura integrates sustainable design principles within each project. Geotectura projects are based on a multi-disciplinary research, using an open source design approach and BIM to optimize results for each challenge. Geotectura designs buildings that aim to reduce the impact of natural resource consumption and greenhouse emissions, reduce operating costs, optimize lifecycle economic performance and enhance occupant comfort and health. The research and experimental approach are well integrated within each design challenge taking into consideration how the design will improve comfort, usability and productivity. Geotectura’s research and projects

Ørjan Nyheim (Norway) Ørjan received a Masters degree in architecture from NTNU, with a thesis on studying the possibilities of building offgrid in Norway. He practices as an architect at the architectural firm Pir II, which uses a holistic approach to environmental friendly buildings. Pir II has received several awards.

Stelios Zerefos, Chris Tessas (Greece) Zerefos Tessas Architects Engineering Consultants is an award — winning firm founded in 2005. Its innovative projects promote contemporary architectural debate, while respecting the environment. Projects range from private residences and office buildings to research institutes and museums that integrate micro-climatic and energy considerations early in the design process. The firm has been widely published. Maciej Siuda (Poland) Graduated with honors from the Faculty of Architecture at Wroclaw University of Technology in 2008. His diploma, XYZ Structure,

was won a number of international and national competitions. From 2005 to 2007 he studied at the Faculty of Architecture at University of Technology in Valencia and interned at the SQArquitectos office (Valencia), and other offices in Madrid, Tokyo, and Alicante. Since 2011 he has been developing his independent work, and collaborating with various architects and designers form Spain, Poland, and Japan. Maciej is co-creator of the international workshop of architecture and urbanism, IWAU. He teaches design at the Swietokrzyska University of Technology and develops videogame graphic designs for the Foundation of Neurorehabilitation in Valencia. Ivan Harbour (UK) Joined the award-winning firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership) in 1985 and was made a Director in 1993. Ivan is currently Design Director of a number of prestigious architecture and master planning projects around the world. He has taught in Europe and Australia. Winner of the 2006 Stirling Prize. Daniel Pearl (Canada) is an architect and has been associate professor at the School of Architecture at La faculté de l’Aménagement of Montreal University (UdeM) since 2001. His teaching focuses on green building construction, tectonics, ecosystemic thinking, and the introduction of the integrated design process into architectural and urban design studies. Daniel is a founding board member of the Canada Green Building Counciil and founding chair of its Academic Education Committee. Daniel established – with Mark Poddubiuk - L’OEUF (l’Office de l’Eclectisme Urbain et Fonctionnel) in 1992, focusing on sustainable architecture, urban housing, residential and commercial renovation, as well as research, criticism and theory. L’OEUF developed its reputation particularly in sustainable

and environmental architecture, and is known for its architectural quality, technical and professional skills, as well as active involvement in academic, professional, and community contexts. This expertise is founded on a search for balance among the appropriate techniques, the economic feasibility, the architectural expression and 391 environmental impacts of a project. L’OEUF members, as architects, support the fact that they are stewards of a built environment that is dignified, human, pleasant, functional, sustainable, and sensitive to the environment. Alessio Battistella (Italy) Founder of ARCo, a young group of engineers and architects, founded in Milan in 2009. ARCo uses low—cost materials and sustainable techniques to develop projects of Architecture through international cooperation. They have built educational projects in Palestine and Mozambique. The work of ARCo was featured at FMG (Spazio per l’architettura) in Milan and has won awards, among them the second prize ex aequo at ‘Premio Fondazione Renzo Piano for a young talent 2011,’ and the Silver Award of the Holcim Foundation 2011 - Africa and Middle East. Jana Leoni (Germany) Director of EcoCityLab, a partnership with the Technische Universitat Berlin. The EcoCityLab is a networked group of academics and students in the fields of landscape design, architecture, urban design, and urban planning, focused on the design of ecocities, starting at the scale of the sustainable urban block and theoretically probing the notion of a new green urban aesthetic. Holder of a Dipl.Ing and M.Urb. Des. Jana is a practicing urban designer based in Berlin. Orizzontale (Italy) An architecture collective based in Rome, whose primary interests are reactivation processes involving urban scrap. Intercepting


places, ideas, and things rejected from metropolitan (re)productive cycles, Orizzontale activates collaborative ‘public acts’ in the form of semipermanent architecture or installations, in which material and immaterial wastes mutually restore each other’s meaning. Since 2010 Orizzontale has been promoting do-it-yourself projects of common relational spaces, giving form to both dismissed and unseen images of the city. These projects represent the ground for experimenting with new kinds of interactions between city dwellers and the urban commons, as well as testing the boundaries of architectural creation. Maria Livia Olivetti (Italy) Architect and PhD graduate, heads the national research project ‘Living Urban Scape’ funded by the Italian Ministry of Education at the University of Roma Tre. Her research focus is on strategies and tactics for urban landscape design and renovation. She published a volume and several articles on the relation between architecture and natural systems and, along with her research activity, she is a practicing architect. In 2010 Maria won the ‘Young Italian Quality’ prize within the project for a cultural center in the Olivadi municipality (together with C. Garofalo). In 2013 she founded ‘PICS_Public Identity and Common Space’, a research/action platform in whose development she is currently engaged.​ Hilde Sponheim (Norway) Partner at LPO Architects holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She works mainly with urbanism and urban development issues and has extensive experience with challenging issues of sustainability and environmental issues. LPO is an Oslo-based architectural firm working in a wide range of architecture-related tasks, from large urban development projects and complex buildings, to advisory services and exhibition design. Together

with public organizations such as Future Built and clients with environmental ambitions, LPO has executed projects such as Papirbredden and Lierstranda in Drammen, and the Bellona house in Oslo. Tom Rankin (Italy & USA) Founder and director of Studio Rome, a design firm devoted to research and practice of environmentally sustainable architecture and urbanism. He practices architecture and teaches at Universita di Roma ‘La Sapienza’ (School of Engineering) and coordinates the University of Minnesota Rome architecture program for Accent. He received his Master’s in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a BA in Architecture at Princeton, and a ‘Laurea’ in Architecture at Universita di Roma ‘La Sapienza.’ He is the founder of the non-profit cultural travel association Scala Reale. From 2002 until 2008 he was President of the American Institute for Roman Culture, a non-profit organization he cofounded. He has written articles and presented frequently at conferences. His blog on the Still Sustainable City is a reference point for sustainable urbanism in Rome. David Knafo (Israel) Architect partner in Knafo Klimor Architects committed to developing sustainable and humanistic architecture in its regional context. Dimitris Raidis (Greece) Architect and co-founder of KARD architects a firm created by the merger of two large Thessaloniki firms - Kouloukouris & Associates and Sempsis+Raidis Architects. Both offices have more than 35 years of architectural and planning experience in almost all sectors of private and public development. Michael Christensen (Denmark) Principle of CHRISTENSEN & Co Architects. Architect and

graduate of the Aarchus School of Architecture, lectures at the Copenhagen School of Architecture and is a juror in architectural competitions in Denmark and internationally. The firm completed in 2010 the Green Lighthouse, Denmark’s first carbon—neutral public building. Gernot Minke (Germany) Trained architect with a doctoral degree and a retired professor from the University of Kassel, Germany, where he directed the Building Research Institute for 38 years. He conducted more than 50 research and development projects in the field of building with earth, straw bales, bamboo, green roofs, earthquake resistant houses built of earth, and lowcost and energy-saving housing. He was invited to give presentations at more than 60 international conferences and is author of more than 300 articles and 10 books. His book, Building with Earth, was published in eight languages. He currently conducts practical workshops and lectures in the Americas and Europe. Uri Gilad (Switzerland) Studied at HIT, Israel, and the Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam, where he graduated with honors under the personal guidance of Prof. Herman Hertzberger. He gained his professional experience while working for Herman Hertzberger and Wingender Hovenier Architecten. During this time he was involved in designing residential and public projects and leading international competitions. In 2010 he joined Wingender Hovenier Architecten as an associate architect. Since 2013 Uri has been a partner at office_winhov, Amsterdam. Uri teaches at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam and since 2010 he has been an assistant professor at the Amsterdam School of Arts on the research project, Tectonics in Contemporary Brick Architecture. Uri divides his time between Amsterdam and Zurich, where he is involved in several projects.

Kostas Tsipiras (Greece) Kostas is a graduate of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Ecole du Batiment (Paris), and has a doctorate from the University of Grenoble. He has 30 years of professional experience, with more than 200 passive solar and ecological houses in Greece and abroad. He has authored and coauthored 14 393 books, among them several books on Ecological Architecture. Abram de Boer (Holland) Architect, engineer, entrepeneur at Studio NOA Architecten, founder of the foundation Urban Vitamin and PhDresearcher at the University of Applied Science Amsterdam and the Technical University of Delft. Abram is a graduate of TU Delft. Robert Swan, OBE (UK & USA) Explorer, leadership expert, and a living legend who has earned his place in history alongside the great explorers and adventurers who have pushed their physical and mental strength to the limit in the planet’s most hostile environments. By the age of 33, he had become the first person to walk to both the North and South poles. His 900-mile journey ‘In the Footsteps of Scott,’ across the treacherous Antarctic ice cap to the South Pole, stands as the longest unassisted walk ever made. The successful completion of his North and South Pole expeditions marked the beginning of a new phase in his life, shaping a lifetime goal for him to work for the preservation of the Antarctic as the last great wilderness on earth. Diebedo Francis Kéré (Germany & Africa) Awarded the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture 2009 and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for his community projects in Burkina Faso in Africa, Francis Kéré is a distinguished leading architect in sustainable and community projects.


Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen (Denmark & China) Kristian is an architect, a partner at Gehl Architects and holds a Master’s of Architecture and Urban Design degree from Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark. He has been with Gehl Architects since 2005 an associate since 2008, and is responsible for Gehl Architects operations in China. His focus area is on capacity building, competition briefs, regeneration strategies for deprived areas, strategic planning frameworks, and sustainable cities. He is an external lecturer at DIS (Danish International Study Abroad) and KUA (Copenhagen University).

was the partner architect for the New Museum of Acropolis with architect Bernard Tschumi. He teaches in Europe and the US.

Benjamin Gill (UK & Greece) Ben is currently the One Planet Communities International Technical Manager at BioRegional (UK). He is a Chartered Environmentalist with IEMA, graduated in Earth Science from Cambridge University and completed an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College. He draws on experience from working in a broad range of environmental fields, such as energy—efficient building design, running environmental education programs, and managing the Appropriate Technology department in an environmental education center in Spain. Based in Greece, Ben currently manages BioRegional’s involvement in One Planet Communities in France, Luxembourg, Tanzania, and Portugal. He provides technical support to the partners in first developing and then implementing ambitious sustainability strategies. Ben has also planted and manages a small woodland, grows his own food, and keeps bees.

Magdalena Malska (Poland & Germany) is an entrepreneur and an architect, graduate of Krakow University of Technology, and a scholarship student of the Erasmus Program at the Politecnico di Milano. She practiced in architecture firms in Poland (Graf), in the Netherlands (WAM Architecten) and is currently working in Germany (m3 architektur + design). She writes for architectural magazines and is involved in the organization of International events such as ECOWEEK. Magdalena is an ECOWEEK Associate and coordinates ECOWEEK in Poland and the UK.

Michael Photiadis (Greece) Graduate of MIT, he has designed some of the most prominent buildings in Greece, among them the ‘GAIA’ research center of the Natural History Museum in Kifissia, the Vorres Art Museum in Peania, the headquarters offices for BP Hellas, Fiat Hellas. He

Francesco Bedeschi (Italy) Architect and professor of integrated architectural design and historic preservation with the Italian Program of the University of Arkansas Rome Center. He is also the site coordinator of the program of study in Italy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York. Francesco is an international member of the American Institute of Architects and member of the board of the GBC Italia.

Mehtap Leyla Turanalp (Turkey & USA) is a City and Urban Planner, graduate of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul and of the Izmir Institute of Technology. Leyla has been involved in Design symposia, among them, ‘Taksim Square Renewal Project’, and MSFAU. Leyla is currently working as a Research Assistant for Prof. Rafi Segal at MIT in Boston and is also an Associate of ECOWEEK. Dimitrios Farmakis (Greece) is a BIM Consultant at Solvia Studio and BIM Engineer at ALICE Technologies. Dimitrios studied Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, focusing on virtual design and construction,

energy—efficient building design, and construction management. Through his various roles, ranging from BIM instructor at Stanford to BIM engineer for the world’s first automated construction scheduling software, Dimitrios has gained broad exposure to various BIM tools and the Integrated Design process. He is a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA). Jelena Lucic (Serbia & China) holds a Master of Environmental Studies and BA of International

Business. Jelena is the founder of NGO ECOIST based in Belgrade, Serbia, with the mission to improve urban sustainability. ECOIST organized ECOWEEK in Belgrade, the first International GreenBuild Conference, and a number of innovative programs. Jelena was the Business Development Manager for a Cyprus-based 395 international company and is currently developing new marketing strategies for a company in China. She is a speaker, lecturer, editor, and guest author for a number of blogs and magazines.

ECOWEEK: The Book #1: 50 Voices for Sustainability Edited by Elias Messinas and Dan Price Foreword by David Orr

The purpose of this publication is to amplify the individual voices of architects, designers, landscape architects, environmental leaders, and educators from around the world. The contributors to this publication are all part of the extended ECOWEEK ‘family.’ They have lectured or led ECOWEEK workshops in cities around the world and are all committed and professionally active. Among them Kengo Kuma, Bjarke Ingels, Françoise-Hélène Jourda, Diebedo Francis Kere, Michael Sorkin, Gernot Minke, Prof. David Orr, and Robert Swan, OBE.

 ECOWEEK is a non-profit organization with the mission of raising environmental awareness. Through sustainable design workshops, it promotes the principle of sustainability around the world. ECOWEEK is a platform. The workshops bring these professionals and students together to share their knowledge, experience, and their personal dedication to make the message of sustainability tangible and inspiring.

 This book marks the 10th anniversary of ECOWEEK, and we hope that it will inspire others to search, find, and push the limits of sustainable design and practice.

Copyright © ECOWEEK 2016 All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-618-83112-0-6

ECOWEEK: The Book #1: 50 Voices for Sustainability

Fifty architects, landscape architects, designers, and environmental leaders join their voices and vision regarding sustainable design, urbanism, and architecture. Many environmentally aware architects and designers work alone. It is time their contributions were recorded and published, so that the message of social, economic, and environmental sustainability which their work embodies is better heard.