The idea that skyscrapers and cities can be green and sustainable per se is very interesting for me. When we started watching this film series, it seemed like not building or doing any changes to the environment is the only solution to protect our nature and the precious environment, and for us as designers who creates new spaces made up of material was impossible. But, during last few sessions and reviewing the brilliant ideas in design, I found out that I need to change the focus of my creativity on something else, I need to define the sustainable solutions as the end result of my design. By looking differently, or changing the point of view, we can come up with sustainable solutions in our design, the same as what Cook + Fox Architects designed for the Bank of America sky scraper in NY. Cleaning the air instead of polluting the air is one of the interesting points in the design of this building. This film introduce some other ideas too, the other example is the gigantic mirrors in the Rafael Clerk’s building, which reflects the sunlight to the landscape at the bottom of high rise buildings, or the idea of making the building by the parts that can be disassemble and reuse for another project by another architect. Knowing about these precedents, helps to get to this point that there is no limit in creativity to design sustainable buildings, as McDonough said we have to be optimistic because we are designer, and how interesting it will be if we think the same way as him about the nature, to love all the children of all species of all time.
The project that inspired me most from this film was the mini home. This semester I and three of my classmates have been working on a design proposal for a solar decathlon house for UNCG. It was inspiring to see how easily a growing family could live so comfortably in such a small space. At the final critiques for our project, a friend and professor of mine made the observation that over the course of history we as human beings have made a shift in the types of houses we shelter ourselves in. “This is the future,” he remarked. We have gone from building grandiose, monumental homes that spread far across the landscape as a means of displaying our wealth; to building minimal impact homes that display our ingenuity and our since of social/environmental responsibility. We now desire to live in places that make an effort for the common wealth rather than for the benefit of only a few individuals. Which has been the main idea behind many of the systems/resource management strategies, and community development ideas we have observed being used in the sustainable skyscrapers in this film and the many others we have viewed in this class.
I think both films had a strong opinion on adopting sustainable practices as a matter of survival. The phrase “reality a matter of perception” is really interesting to me, because perception will depend on a lot of variables for each person. It would even be influenced on our past experiences, so, in this case reality is a relative concept. 4 Times Square is a sample of this, it is an environmental way to build, building greener, and smarter with the mind of creating an efficient building. The matter here is test if they are really sustainable, the way the building is used and the people cost. Trying to keep people happy and comfortable generates a cost in the building but it is needed to be considered the cost of life. Buildings that make people feel better inside and outside, it can change perception towards sustainability. Another sample is in Singapore, intelligent design façade, elevators that stop when people are not using them are practices of ecological intelligence design. The use of humans as natural resource can produce the next industrial re-E-volution, using as well the benefit of other people expertise. It is time to design with the minimum of structure and materials, change the system we live in. Teamwork with other disciplines is the clue to talk a common language to understand what we ought to do.
As much as we view Manhattan as a model, respect its cultural heritage, applaud its mass transit infrastructure, I am not a lover of city life. The pure fact of Manhattan is, if you don’t have money, you’re living in its slums, and working in substandard conditions. The social fabric of equality is played out in New York City, but what about the other boroughs or the lower east side? I do love looking at the beautiful skyscrapers with modern technological advances in sustainable design, but I can’t stop from asking the question why is it only available in such limited quantities? The Green Apple is reserved for the very wealthy that choose to live and work in Manhattan, and demand the very best life has to offer. It is not a tough choice for a developer to make towards sustainable design practices, to incur the additional cost of construction when the outcome will be a competitive edge. Those with the buying power are demanding better solutions. In America change happens only if it’s economically salable. Looking up at the impressive skyscrapers as you walk down the city streets of Manhattan, all the well-kept buildings and modern skyscrapers have green roofs. We know the solutions, now we need to thread the needle throughout society. For this reason, building structures like the Druk White Locus School in Ladakh, and the Via Verde project in the Bronx mean so much more to me. They bring sustainable design to the common folk, allowing all of us to share in its benefits. Society as a whole needs to change, and demand more. Building Deeper Shades of Green exemplifies a philosophy where leading architects and designers walk the path of living in harmony with nature. They stand on integrity to choose to educate their clients in making better choices for our future; designing for the climate, reviving passive solar design features for contemporary uses, and integrated design that fits into the landscape with net zero impact on the environment. Architect William McDonough teaches us to follow the law of nature and become a kindred sprit of the natural world. I like that philosophy, and choose adapt it by asking similar questions in my future design; as to how will my solutions impact the social structure, as a member of a larger community of nature.
Eileen's thoughts about making sustainable buildings available to everyone struck a chord with me. Probably because I have not had the experience of living in a large city, I have not thought about how difficult it would be to live in sustainable housing there. The first image that comes to my mind when I think about people who would be living in a “green” building would be someone wearing Birkenstocks, sporting a gray pony-tail, and growing most of his food organically in his rural neighborhood. As designers we do need to address the problem of making sustainable housing affordable to everyone, no matter where they live. Maybe a first step could be to design a sustainable, off-the-grid house that would be possible for Habitat to construct.