The architecture of the future is here, now. One key aspect of this new kind of architecture is "sustainability" -- and it's become a huge challenge for architects and engineers all over the world.
But what exactly does "sustainability" mean, as far as 21st century architecture is concerned? The definition is long and complex. It includes the use of environment-friendly construction materials, the recycling of these materials, the use of energy-efficient technology, and the impact that the project will have on the local culture.
The Dortmund-based Gerber architecture firm is redesigning the King Fahad national library in Saudi Arabia to make it more energy efficient. But sustainable construction is still a relatively new phenomenon in the Middle East and other parts of the world. It's often difficult for architects to convince clients that these projects are worthwhile. In New York, we meet Blake Kurasek -- an architect who's come up with an alternative design for a skyscraper that would be used exclusively for growing food crops. Kurasek plans to build the 120-storey "eco-tower" right in the middle of Manhattan.
In Asia, Singapore is on the cutting edge of sustainable construction. The architects at the WOHA firm have incorporated extensive "green space" into their projects. Their use of vegetation to enhance the environmental profile of residential- and hotel towers has been nothing less than revolutionary. In Bali, WOHA designed a luxury resort that was built exclusively with locally-available construction materials. For example, the facades of the villas feature recycled wooden telegraph poles and railway.
Spectacular New Conference Center In Dalian, China, Uses Seawater To Keep Cool In Summer And Warm In Winter
Chinais also moving toward sustainable construction. In fact, it's specifically mentioned in the government's current five-year economic plan. A new international conference center and opera house in the seaport of Dalian was designed by Austrian architect Wolf D. Prix. The facility will keep energy use to an absolute minimum -- in part, through the use of thermal energy, natural ventilation and solar power. It's a futuristic concept that's aimed at allowing the structure to generate as much of its own energy as possible.