Eco-friendly design has become the norm in modern architecture. All new buildings today are conceived and constructed with their ‘green’ credentials firmly to the fore. The great news about eco-design becoming mainstream is that all the might and power of designers who focus purely on aesthetics is being brought to the table, right across the whole design spectrum.
And what this means for us, is lots more beautiful green building.
Shift in focus
In the past, sustainable, green design had a reputation for being worthy, a little clunky and less interested in the aesthetics than the substance. These days, because being green is no longer negotiable, designers, architects and constructors are being forced to devise beautiful solutions that conform to the low-impact, eco-happy ideal. And that is great news for everybody.
Open plan spaces, interiors with vast expanses of floor area, are now very much in vogue. Such elegant and attractive spaces are reflective of a more relaxed approach to living and are made possible by advances in building techniques and materials. Large pre-fab panels, breakthroughs in glazing technology and simplified and low-impact building processes are changing the way we approach our interiors. Large spaces used to be problematic in terms of temperature regulation, but with improved insulation materials and processes, these headaches are a thing of the past.
As well as open spaces, another beautiful green development is that of hybrid design where natural and manufactured materials are harmoniously blended. Using sustainable natural materials such as wooden shutters, hemp flooring and stone alongside concrete, steel and aluminum creates a dynamic tension that is both edgy and fresh. Combining environmentally friendly, modular building materials in pre-fabricated wood, metal or glass panels speeds up the construction process and opens up the design possibilities in ways that would be impossible with a conventional building. With angular Bauhaus shapes or undulating organic forms to inspire, modular pre-fab panels breathe fresh life into the construction process.
Sustainability has become the watchword in green building design, with all materials having to pass the test. Whether it’s timber from forests that are managed and replanted, organic carpet tiles or zero VOC paints, it’s all good for the environment and for us, too.
Green and pleasant
Another green building trend that is beautiful by virtue of its main natural component is plant usage to combat eco issues. Used in managing heat loss from rooftops (sedum roofs, succulent carpets to insulate) and in strategic planning to manage large volumes of water after bad weather, landscaping to mitigate against rural land erosion and urban flooding is a great way of purifying and absorbing stormwater. Planting strips and green roofs play a useful role in managing excess water whilst improving air quality by taking in carbon dioxide. As natural solutions to man-made problems go, this one takes some beating!
The earth is a beautiful place, and if we want to keep it that way, green building needs to continue reaching towards excellence. With so many exciting new ideas, techniques and materials entering the mix, there’s good reason to hope things are truly getting better.