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Green architecture: building for the climate

15 Jul 2020

Ha Long Villa by VTN architects ©Hiroyuki Oki

Green houses could be an answer to climate change. New projects around the world show how.

In view of the discussions about climate change, demands for sustainable architecture are becoming ever louder. The construction industry is one of the main sources of resource and energy consumption. Initiatives such as the Architects 4 Future alliance founded by German students therefore call for a sustainable change in the industry. The young architects are concerned with responsible planning that preserves natural spaces and promotes healthy living environments.

Solutions to urban problems

But how can architecture be used to create biodiverse habitats in the city? Future-oriented projects all over the world are trying to find an answer to this. They are countering the increasing urbanization and related problems such as air pollution with green solutions. "Green" refers not only to measurable facts such as energy efficiency. It is also about aspects such as upgrading the environment with large green areas and the widest possible variety of planting.

Riverside Tirana project by Stefano Boeri Architetti ©Stefano Boeri Architetti

Plants against urban heat

More recent forecasts predict that by 2050 more than two thirds of the world's population will live in cities. Densely built-up areas and car traffic are contributing to the increasing heating of large cities. It is therefore all the more important to counteract this heat effect. Plants can make a significant contribution here. They are a natural sunscreen and produce a lot of oxygen. Green facades, terraces, balconies or roofs can therefore improve the climate in high-density urban areas.

Green oases and vertical forests

One of the pioneers of green building concepts is the Italian architect Stefano Boeri. He became internationally known for his green skyscrapers, which are designed as vertical forests with hundreds of shrubs, hedges and trees. His latest projects include a huge area in the Albanian capital Tirana. An entire district is to be created there as a green oasis. The central component is the greening of the houses and public areas. Spread over squares, house walls and roofs, the large green area should provide habitats for numerous plant species.

Riverside Tirana project by Stefano Boeri Architetti ©Stefano Boeri Architetti

Houses with trees

Outstanding projects of green architecture are characterized worldwide by a special awareness of their surroundings. Another current example is the Ha Long Villa in the Vietnamese city of the same name. The private house was designed by VTN architects as a prototype for a series of houses called House of Trees. As urban greening projects, they are intended to enable their inhabitants to live like in a forest. With dozens of plants planted in the double-walled façade and on the roof, the green space of the site is increased many times over.

Building in response to climate change

In Germany, too, more and more architects are advocating the large-scale greening of cities. The most recent example is the recently completed office and commercial building Kö-Bogen II in Düsseldorf. The complex planned by Ingenhoven Architects is Europe's largest green façade. Eight kilometers of hornbeam hedges are spread over the sloping facade and roof surfaces. The ecological benefit of this hedge landscape should correspond to that of 80 deciduous trees and thus be a possible answer to climate change.

Ha Long Villa by VTN architects ©Hiroyuki Oki

Urban greening starts on a small scale

In the personal environment, too, something can be done to improve the urban climate. For green facades or roofs of private houses there are now a variety of solutions. Products such as new systems for vertical greening or sustainable plants and substrates for roof gardens will be presented at the upcoming spoga+gafa. From 30 May to 1 June 2021, the world's largest garden trade fair will show the latest trends in the green industry. Among other things, numerous exhibitors will present a large selection of pots, flowers and plants for balconies and terraces. With the focus on sustainable gardens, this year's fair will ask about the profitable implementation of the megatrend sustainability. Green architecture can make a decisive contribution to this.

Author: Leif Hallerbach