At one time, it was enough for buildings to have a few solar panels on their roof to be considered energy conscious and ‘green.’ Now buildings and structures all over the world are exceeding the expectations of what it means to be eco-friendly, energy efficient and sustainable. From smog-eating concrete to 3D printed office buildings, explore the world of innovative architecture and design in our overview of seven of the most ingenious buildings and structures being developed today.
A Venta favorite, this Italian building is fighting air pollution by “eating smog.” Sound too good to be true? The Italian company, Italcementi, created a biodynamic cement that purifies the air of pollutants:
The entire outdoor surface and part of the interiors consist of biodynamic cement panels […] in direct sunlight, the active principle contained in the material ‘captures’ certain pollutants present in the air and converts them into inert salts, helping to purify the atmosphere from smog. […] 80 percent of this air-purifying cement is made from recycled materials, such as scraps from Carrara marble.
These converted salts then simply wash away from the building’s exterior when it rains. In addition to its air-purifying exterior, Palazzo Italia also has a photovoltaic glass rooftop to generate solar energy during the day. Architects Nemesi & Partners wanted the overall design to symbolize an urban jungle and tree of life. Palazzo Italia was created for the Milan Expo 2015 and remains as a permanent structure in the city.
BIG, or the Bjarke Ingels Group, based out of Copenhagen and New York has been creating a residential development in Taiwan, designed to be an eco-friendly and active home for the elderly. The layout and design encourage a health-conscious and active community for seniors.
The towering structures have grass roofs which minimize heat gain. Walking and jogging paths intertwine among the towers, connecting residents easily. The project is meant to inspire interaction, liveliness, and be a stress-free environment.
While most of the world’s 3D printed architecture is still in the prototype phase, this is the first actual 3D printed building that is fully functioning. Housing the executive offices of the Dubai Future Foundation, this 3D printed building is made from concrete elements printed by a 120-foot-long 3D printer in Shanghai.
This project is particularly momentous because the entire process saved close to 80 percent in labor costs and 60 percent in construction waste, proving to be a highly efficient method of construction.
Take a look at this time-lapse video of the printing, shipping and building process:
This building blends cultural design with cutting-edge construction to create an energy efficient structure. Studio Symbiosis, who designed the building, considers sustainability to be the primary focus of the development:
Sustainability is at the epicentre of the project embedded in form of, optimized natural lighting, cross ventilation and reduction of heat gain […] The double jali screen reduces the outside air temperature in front of the glass. The colder air is going in and pulled into the atrium through the chimney effect of the atrium space and resulting in natural ventilation and reducing the indoor air temperature naturally so the cooling load for the air conditioning is reduced
Jali, a popular design style in India, was important to include in the architectural plans for the Punjab Kesari Headquarters so it could maintain some traditional elements of Indian culture.
Fighting both homelessness and wastefulness, this building is part of Portland’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. While providing several social services, temporary shelters, walk-in day centers, and even some permanent housing for low-income and homeless people, the Bud Clark Commons is also exceptionally sustainable. Energy savings are estimated to reach $60,000 annually as a result of some of the following features: large-scale graywater recycling, zero stormwater runoff, and solar hot water.
The building from Holst Architecture has a LEED Platinum certification by the United States Green Building Council.
While not technically just a building, this eco-friendly ‘city’ has been heralded as the world’s most sustainable city. Still in development, the city combines traditional Arabic architecture and modern technology to create a truly innovative environment:
At the city’s core is an innovation engine. The city is growing its neighborhoods around the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a research university dedicated to cutting edge solutions in the fields of energy and sustainability.
The city is nowhere near finished but is continually expanding new businesses, schools, restaurants, apartments and more, hoping to accommodate up to 40,000 residents eventually. Not bad for a city that is said to rely entirely on solar energy, renewable resources, will be carbon neutral, car-free and self-sustaining.
See an overview of the city in this video:
Critically acclaimed as a fossil fuel free vision of the future, the Crystal in London is a remarkable structure due to its sustainable building design. As far as energy efficient and green standards are concerned, The Crystal is the only building in the world to have both the BREEAM and LEED certifications, making it one of the most efficient buildings on the planet.
As Siemens’ office space, an event space and exhibition hall, The Crystal gets its fair share of use. Considering this, the building still runs entirely on electricity and is generated by photovoltaic solar panels. The Crystal’s roof collects rainwater, sewage is treated and recycled, and produces 70% less carbon dioxide emissions than other comparable offices.