Innovative architecture Who better to introduce our Innovative architecture theme than the French architect Édouard François? Known for his environmentally friendly buildings, he was once described by the Financial Times as the ‘The Hero of Green Architecture’, a title very fitting for a man on the frontline of sustainable innovation. TEXT: ÉDOUARD FRANçOIS | MAIN PHOTO: MAISON ÉDOUARD FRANçOIS
How can we be creative and respectful of sustainability in architecture? Buildings have an incredible impact on those who live and work inside them. People are happy and peaceful when they live in a place that was designed according to their way of life and context. Far too often, ‘sustainable’ buildings are horribly complex, ugly, and expensive. And, in the end, it is not so clear that these buildings are very ecological. We are all interested in problems of thermal efficiency and passive buildings – but true green architecture is much more than just finding solutions to engineering problems. Instead, the relationship between a building and its environment is the most important question. Truly green architecture must respect geography, history, and people. That is, in short, context.
The current crisis, which is not only economic, has provided a good opportunity to think differently. Modernity is dying. Standardisation, hygiene, and globalisation are fading and a new paradigm is emerging that is based on a transition towards sustainable development, local materials and services, organic products, seasonality, and the preservation and enhancement of existing buildings. These changes in contemporary society are not simply taking place in rich countries. Even countries which are in a strong period of development are looking for ways to evolve with the ideas of sustainability, context and geography in mind. It is neither easier nor more difficult according to wealth; it differs simply according to history, culture, and natural landscape. There is no global answer. And that is very exciting!
Architecture is a profession to which one must devote a great deal of energy. The difference between a good and a bad building is the amount of energy that has been put into it. To calculate this amount of energy, an architect needs to be fed by other fields of study. One must be interested in other subjects such as surgery, politics, arts, food, and mathematics… anything that nourishes intellectual curiosity and intensity. By doing so, one can produce original projects with forms that are as contemporary and radical as they are respectful of their historic or exceptional surroundings. Édouard François is a French architect based in Paris. One of his best known projects is the Flower Tower completed in 2004. Hanging from its balconies are giant flower pots to embody the desire for nature in the city.
Issue 16 | April 2015 | 31
Photo: Paul Raftery
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