ttierney July 20th, 2009
Green Architecture for the Future: Melissa
Upon recommendation from Martha Lewis, the gang headed north to see a special exhibit on “green architecture” at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It was fortuitous for us that this exhibit was on display when we were visiting! Unlike many of the world’s renowned art museums, Louisiana is not located in an urban setting, but in a quaint town (Humlebaek) 35 km north of Copenhagen. We even stopped to pick some wild red raspberries on the walk from the train station to the museum.
The green architecture exhibit was divided into three themes: “the city”, “climate/energy”, and “metabolism”. In “the city” section, the idea of compact, dense city centers was emphasized as the most sustainable way for cities to grow. Interestingly, this was the layout of many medieval towns. Projects proposed included CO2 and garbage-free cities. The only U.S. city profiled in this section was Philadelphia where urban voids are being filled with ecological corridors to provide residents with greener ways to come together.
Comfort is a main concern when utilizing sustainable architecture. Thus, the “climate/energy” portion emphasized the green architects’ uses of cues from the human senses to create the perfect balance of comfort with efficient energy conditions. In addition, special climate and energy conditions inspire architects to design site-specific buildings that adapt to the actual surroundings. Incidentally, the RiverPark Development in Pittsburgh was the (only) U.S. example of a site-specific climatic design. This design featured buildings staggered in a manner that will incorporate buffers from blustery winds, while allowing ample sunlight to penetrate at ground level.
The final section, “metabolism,” described the use of material and new design parameters in sustainable architecture. “Cradle-to-Cradle” is a philosophy that mimics nature in which the concept of waste does not exist. Similarly, designers are working to create products in which nothing goes to waste. In the same vein, architects are starting to question whether when designing a structure, does it have to last forever? Or “should the building only stand for 25 years and then automatically be broken down into fish feed, or should the building be programmed to change its function for the generations of the future?” (R&Sie laboratory architects) The museum featured a prototype of such a limited time-span, biodegradable structure that was constructed of a biopolymer (no petrochemicals). The biopolymer will degrade over time with addition of water to become fish food. In six months, half of the prototype will be degraded.
Dale’s comment on the Green Architecture for the Future Exhibit 7/18: The exhibit sits at an interesting spatial intersection. Its not located in a large city or housed in a museum of science or industry. The exhibit, is however, is in a small town, on the coast, in a park, facing the sea, where wind, sun, sky, land and water meet. The exhibits of contemporary artists within the museum are opposite floor-to-ceiling glass walls, which also face out into the park. One is aware of both artistic inspiration and natural harmony
Additionally, only the environmentally sensitive art exhibits are air-conditioned. As a result, outside air drifts through the galleries.
The Green Architecture exhibit itself merges with the galleries, further blurring the boundaries between art, science, architecture and environmentalism. It is a subtle but effective way for us to think, not in terms of compartmentalizing these perspectives, but intuitively understanding them through their spatial relationships, and as multiple, interrelated ways we might relate to our world.