At PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO, architect Eric Corey Freed talked about the necessity of designing green buildings and structures from the ground up. Instead of simply taking traditional buildings and adding green features such as solar panels and more efficient support systems. At his firm, organicARCHITECT, all of their projects are conceived as green buildings from the start. These structures are designed to generate their own energy, clean their own water and actively regenerate the environment around them. In his opinion, moving forward, we can’t afford not to build green buildings.
Coming from the viewpoint of an environmentalist, Freed elaborates on his concept of ‘dodo sapiens,’ whereby human reasoning and logic is dominated by short-term thinking. This shortsightedness has translated itself into the problematic and stagnant design of our buildings. Since half of all carbon emissions are emitted by buildings, we will have to reform our structures in order to be sustainable.
To do this, Freed introduces the concept of ‘biomimicry’, which simply states that we should build in the way that nature builds. As he puts it, ‘nature is 3.8 billion years ahead of us in research and development,’ and if we open up our eyes to nature we could uncover whole new structural systems. Designers could find new ways to make thin and fragile materials strong like the glass sponge, ways to make cement from paper like a wasps nest, or how to make air conditioning without electricity like a termite nest.
Freed concludes his talk with his own version of a quote originally from Arthur C. Clark, which goes, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature.’ Ideally in the future, we will not be able to tell the two apart, as natural and human technology will blend together as one.
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