In this movie which was the last film that we watch for Sustainable Film Series course, the focus is on the passive sustainable solutions and most of them are based on the traditional methods that are reinvented today. For example, rammed earth, walls from straw, using wind power to generate energy, or orienting the larger façade of the building towards the south in order to receive more solar energy. In my opinion using passive solutions are more close to the concept of sustainability, but we have to also use the new technology to build our environment, because the passive solutions can’t be the only answer for our design problems and they are not enough to responds to today’s modern society.Two of the solutions for sustainable buildings were new, the rammed wall and the wall from straw. Since in my country they used to build houses with straw and clay, it is interesting to see how they changed it and reinforced it so that it fits the needs of the modern buildings. Another traditional solution in Iranian architecture, was ventilating the air using the difference of air pressure in the basement versus the roof, and in hot climate they used this method to cool the air inside the building. Considering all of these methods, shows that we don’t have to necessarily invent something completely new, we can look at the traditional methods and come up with new ideas to reuse them.
This film shows really good methods of traditional building, in the industry is known as building green. Two of the examples were Rammed Earth and StrawBell construction. For the Rammed Earth technique, they explained how this highly compressed dirt form walls with a system of steel in the middle that prevents the wall from fall in earthquakes. StrawBell constructions is a system that needs to be using at least one year old straws, reinforcing the walls with a mesh sawed to the straw structure and all covered with cement. Both of the methods presented are really light weight solutions as well for buildings. This film made me remember the previous week film talking about the school in Tibet, These methods of constructions helps the environment as healthy solutions for buildings; this as well supports the local economy because the resources are taken from the surroundings. As designers we need to be aware of the impact we cause in the environment where we build, the use of the already existing materials in the area of construction should be introduced from the beginning in the planning of the structures. I think this films series have been an eye opening to me to reconsider the use of materials and techniques in the process of design.
The urban retrofit segment of this film reminded me of how difficult it can be to know if I am making good, sustainable choices or if the financial costs of what I think are good sustainable choices are worthwhile. It was wonderful that the original bricks were taken off to allow insulation and systems to be installed in the walls and then put back in place instead of throwing them in a landfill. But this seems like a highly labor intensive method and I am surprised that the budget allowed for it. My own success with reusing materials has been variable. Once I brought home a big load of oak flooring that had been removed from a showroom and was destined for a landfill. After a weekend of attempting to remove enough nails to make the flooring usable my husband and I decided that it just was not worth the weeks of work that would be involved. Another time we purchased wood panel doors from Habitat for $10 apiece, a fraction of the $300 it would have cost to buy new ones. This seemed like a successful environmental choice, also, but I am not sure. We took them to “Jack the Stripper” who dipped them in a large vat of nasty chemicals to remove the finish. We used quite a lot of gasoline hauling them in a trailer attached to a thirsty SUV from Winston-Salem to Elkin, back to Winston-Salem and then to Independence. My recent reading of “Cradle to Cradle” reminded me of how much information I would need to have in order to truly know the effect our door adventure had on the environment.My favorite segment of the film was the community in Victoria. The design was attractive, but the function of the buildings was more impressive than the aesthetics. I loved how engineering allowed human waste to became a resource instead of a poison. It is hard to imagine that there is a downside to this design. The beautiful water way is a much better option for cleaning the waste water produced by the residents than the typical foul smelling, unattractive water treatment facility we are used to seeing. This design inspires hope for the future.