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Sustainable Architecture From Around The Globe: The Beauty Behind Energy

Here are some of the latest sustainable architectural projects coming out of Texas, California, and Singapore.

This article was published in The Beam #7 — Subscribe now for more on the topic.

Creating buildings with the lowest possible energy consumption and carbon emission production, while being aesthetically pleasing, is a challenge bringing together great minds to change the way we think about our living and working spaces.

Sustainable housing for rural communities

The Hill Country House serves as a beacon to show what could be: a self-sustaining home in a rural setting, independent of municipal water and energy. Situated on a sweeping Texas Hill Country meadow, this private residence is defined by a series of jagged roof peaks inspired by the rise and fall of the surrounding hills. Lovingly referred to as ‘The Sanctuary’ by its owners, an active couple of ordained ministers, and executed on a very modest budget, this modern take on the farmhouse vernacular is a place to bring people together and find spiritual renewal in a responsible, sustainable setting. The house is independent of the municipal water supply, and provides its own heating and cooling via a geothermal system.

The vertical healing environment

Photo: HOK

The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital (NTFGH) in Singapore functions as a vertical healing garden with its performance-based design supporting resource efficiency, health and well-being. Unlike its Singaporean peers, NTFGH provides every patient with a window, 70% of the facility is naturally ventilated, and controlled access to vegetation on terraces provides a therapeutic environment for healing. The project also includes solar thermal hot water heating and a large photovoltaic array. An oasis in a dense city, the facility incorporates parks, green roofs and vertical plantings throughout the campus. The building uses 38% less energy than a typical Singaporean hospital and 69% less than a typical US hospital.

The innovative school

Sonoma Academy is situated at the base of Taylor Mountain, a prominent regional park and open space preserve distinguished by grassy hillsides, oak woodlands, and creeks. In two sweeping floors, the new Durgin Guild & Commons allows students to become innovators and invites the community to participate in the academic process. The Guild, on the lower level, blends a mix of maker spaces — wood assembly, metal shop, digital media and robotics — into an innovation space designed to adapt over time. The Commons, on the upper floor, serves as a multi-use dining and events center for students to dine, socialize, or spend a quiet moment alone. The design team has embedded sliding screens, automated shades, visible radiant system controls and deep overhangs to relay how the building responds to climate, while regionally-sourced low carbon block, ceramic tiles, reclaimed beams and exterior and interior sliding are paired with regionally-made lamps and furniture to celebrate community. The living roof also attracts pollinators, houses photovoltaics and connects to tiered planters that filter greywater and stormwater for reuse.

By The Beam Editor-in-Chief Anne-Sophie Garrigou.

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The Beam Magazine is an independent climate solutions and climate action magazine. It tells about the most exciting solutions, makes a concrete contribution to eliminating climate injustices and preserving this planet for all of us in its diversity and beauty. Our cross-country team of editors works with a network of 150 local journalists in 50 countries talking to change makers and communities. THE BEAM is published in Berlin and distributed in nearly 1,000 publicly accessible locations, to companies, organizations and individuals in 40 countries across the world powered by FairPlanet.


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