Architecture is known to resonate with the changing time and technology. Ideally, architecture is ought to go hand in hand with the climate as well. But when we compare the trends in architecture to the changing patterns of climate, we see that there is a lot that the built forms have to catch up, so as to compliment the changes in the climate. We are in an age with the worst climatic changes. We see a lot of situations around the world that arise out of abnormal climatic patterns very now and then. Thus there is a deep need to rethink the way we build our buildings and cities. We need to rethink the materials, techniques and eventually the design radically.
Basically, to understand how the built forms can help to deal with the climate changes, we need to focus on the following aspects
The climate is changing, why aren’t we?
Yes, the climate is changing. We are experiencing heat waves in some parts of the world while untimely rains and melting glaciers in some other. With this, we have learnt that climate cannot be the same everywhere. Hence, our designs cannot be the same. Our materials cannot be the same. We need to think about sustainable designs. Climate responsive architecture is the need of the day. While glass might seem to be the easily available and insulating material for the west, the same cannot be used in the tropical countries of the east.
The mere usage of materials, just on the basis of aesthetics is only going to add to the climatic emergency. We need to learn from the critical regionalism movements. Designers must analyse the micro and macroclimate. Accordingly, the design must be crafted so as to add value to the microclimate and fit in the macro climatic conditions.
How do we bring in the change?
While there are those who have turned deaf ears to the cries of nature, there are designers who have grown sensitive to it. We need to look around us and learn. New York has banned the use of glass facades leading to a 30% reduction in greenhouse emissions. Morphogenesis and architectural firm based in India has initiated to spread knowledge about their environmentally conscious projects. This has led to the spread of their sustainable intentions and importance of vernacular architecture.
Malaysian based Architect Ken Yang is undoubtedly the pioneer of the sustainable architecture of the present times. He is known to integrate ‘green’ ideas in the modern-day skyscrapers. Isn’t that truly inspirational? Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lankan based Architect was known to use traditional and local materials even in the government administration buildings. This not only set up a backdrop for showcasing the traditional culture but also enhance the microclimate with local and climate-sensitive design. That too at a national level!
Materials and design techniques play an important role in sustainable architecture. Apart from these, getting your buildings green-rated is the new trend. This is indeed a good trend which shows that certain stakeholders in the construction industry are keen on bringing in the change. The LEED rating is a globally recognized parameter to check the sustainability of the design. It thus acts as a manual to plan and construct sustainable designs. GRIHA and IGBC are also such green rating institutes in India on a national level. These institutions not only assess and rate the structures but they also train and certify professionals for the same. Thus contributing to creating a more climate and environment-conscious fraternity in the construction industry.
Therefore, to evolve our design and match up to sustainable trends, we must be well informed about the institutions that would help us in achieving sustainable design. Secondly, our design and use of materials must arise more out of the environmental concern. Last but not least, we must be roping in sustainable practices, not because of a mere trend. We must all as a society, understand the importance of sustainable architecture and its implications if not followed. Inculcating this in us as designers are surely going to help us achieve a better tomorrow.