| Human Habitats and Humanistic Approach
“The purpose of Architecture (and Urban Design) is to improve human life. It is to create timeless, free, joyous spaces for all activities in life. The infinite variety of spaces can be as varied as life itself and they must be as sensible as nature in deriving from a main idea and flowering into a beautiful entity.
The overriding essence is found in the intangibles- life- heart- soul- spirit- freedom- enduring within the structure.” John Lautner
Public Space and Human Nature
A respect for Human Nature is one of the main focuses for my design.
An innovative City is a place where people from all cultures and lifestyles can move freely and meet to communicate, socialize, play and enjoy experiences that appeal to all the human senses. While the success and sustainability of a place is based on its functionality, its design must be rooted in the well-being of people. If people feel well, they are healthier and more creative, and consequently communicate and socialize more freely.
The modern world seems to have grown smaller in many ways, but still it is infinitely complex. Today more than ever, people, with their diverse national and international lifestyles, are the starting point for social and cultural exchange. The basis for experiencing public space need still be based on human nature – the way people connect, communicate, and socialize – and in the ways human beings, see, hear, feel, dream… and think.
The quality of successful places can be assessed to ensure the human need for safety, comfort and joy.
Well-being of people
Designing a ‘city’, we cannot avoid having some degree of organization. Formal organization is a precondition, or the ‘DNA’, of any form of planning.
The patterns of organization provide potential – the variety and complexity of possibilities within the system are defining, and will reflect the quality of spaces which are also determined by the user and the programmatic functions.
The system is a good system if there is enough richness and freedom for the [functions and the people to specify and materialize the forms (not clear what this means]. Finally, the success of a structure can be measured by its functionality over time, the well-being it supports for the users, its environmental friendliness, and not least of all, its artistic expression and beauty.
Creativity and Human Nature
Creativity is an essential part of Human Culture. Humans, especially in the design professions, are constantly creating new things. Creativity is the uniting attribute of the design professions develops and accelerates human culture. Creative though technically highly developed, we are still bound to the basic rules of life on this planet, and humans can choose to either work in conjunction with the ‘world’ or to separate from it.
The Atmosphere of a city or building can be described as human friendly or in life-harmony, with a strong spatial connection between nature and architecture. The patterns, water ways, landscape forms and built structures ‘communicate’ with each other, opening up interesting and inspiring new spatial formations under the sun. Interior spaces and exterior spaces are interwoven. Inhabitants, users and visitors experience a strong relationship to the seasons, the natural elements and natural cycles.
A romantic experiential component is derived from the strong connection to the ‘earth’ and the vision of the ’sky’/ connection to nature.
Ambient Sound and Light
The well-being of people, to a degree, is dependent on how they feel. Experiencing natural light and shadow while resting under a tree canopy, for instance, or listening to the natural sounds of water can contribute to the well-being of people. This will be achieved in indoor and in outdoor spaces. The ‘silent’ city will have the least noise pollution (mechanical noises) possible. Instead, ambient sounds of water and wind can be experienced freely and enjoyed. Thus the city ‘lives’ in harmony with earth, wind, and sun.
Passive Systems- Active users
Passive systems will be preferred over mechanical systems for the city and its buildings. The use of daylight, buffer zones in solar hear gains, thermal mass and window/solar chimneys for natural ventilation lead to an architecture to be experienced and actively engaged by people. Of course we will make use of the best passive technologies available and where appropriate use active systems.
The successful city has a familiar scale. City scale should feel familiar and provide easy orientation and a sense of safety for people. Ideally, buildings can ‘hide’ underneath a tree canopy and connect to nature and landscape.
Buildings, streets and plazas will break down the scale from the larger elements and form smaller individual units especially in the street scape. Examples include cafes, entries, winter gardens in order to relate to humans and to create a wide range of urban fabrics and successful streetscapes. Highrise areas should be the exception.
2 Urban Systems
Open Structure and Humane Architecture
Urban Planning and Architecture has a variety of formal organizational principles. Some think that the world and our built environment are and should be organized in accordance with linear mathematical axioms. Historically, this has led to determining proportions in accordance with the Golden Section. However the Golden Section or Axial Symmetry as a single principle is meaningless, and even inhumane, unless it is integrated into a far more complex structure.
Society is a complex mixture of characters and individuals organized in social networks like family, friends, villages, soccer teams, or architects. As the social organizations respond and adapt to their own networks, so too should the organization of spaces. Open structures are more able to adapt according to changing needs.
Open structures behave like organisms or cell structures. If one part is changed, the other parts try to react and compensate in order to balance the system.
The ideal structure is a balanced system creating a framework with basic ‘rules’ which allow for enough freedom for architecture and ‘places’ to develop. The structure should provide for ‘places’ for every social aspect of the single individuals while also accommodating groups of individuals through the qualities of safety, comfort and joy.
Complexity and Synergy
The city is a complex system which does not depend on pure ‘strength’ or ‘size’, but rather on complexity – with all parts working together.
A high level of complexity means a high level of synergy. The effect of the Creative Zone is not tied to the individual move but to the synergy of the whole. Interdisciplinary work based on mutual communication and transparency is one of the preconditions of the Creative Zone.
The Creative Center will have a strong notion of flexibility and adaptability, both systemically and practically. Change is a constant element of creativity and design.
As water can change its form and shape while maintaining molecular stability, so too can the patterns and elements of a place according the forces and inherent characteristics of its ‘DNA’. The forces may be new events, need for program changes, or a shift of usage or habits.
Ideally, the structure will be used as planned, but over time, initial goals might shift and spaces can be used in a slightly different way.
Flexibility and Adaptability are essential parts of a sustainable system and include the changing needs and desires of users.
Just as organisms and plants can adapt to the changes of natural environment, the planning of a city should be flexible and able to adapt to the changes of environmental condition and functional program while maintaining a harmonized and integrated spatial system.
There is no master plan providing a fixed solution. For a ‘creative city’ full of energy and innovative changes, truly meaningful sustainable development requires an adaptive and changeable site platform built upon a clear and logical framework.
At the city level, the planning structure, buildings, parks, and landscape are “what is there” for benefit, while the open spaces, streets, squares and indoor architectural spaces are “what is NOT there” for usefulness.
Ultimately, the urban structure will become an interface or medium between the people, the built environment, and the nature elements with the goal of minimizing energy consumption, maximizing the utilization of “passive” micro-climate control method, and creating the most suitable built environment with minimal environmental impact.
New fast trains and highways will connect various city centers with short travel times. Central Stations and garden cities also need to be well connected by other forms of public transportation and taxi. The obvious solution is a bus system which can be employed during peak traffic times, such as during a convention.
Another option is to connect through a local train or underground train.
While the clear preference is for public transportation, the private car is another option. However car traffic should be minimized.
Traffic in city centers
Pedestrians will dominate traffic on the sub centers, followed by bikes and smaller electric shuttle buses.
The length of a ‘connector’ from one end to the other should be easily walked in ten or fifteen minutes, with most distances being shorter. Loaner bikes will be provided for free on site in the system. Electrical cars/ taxis and shuttles can be introduced upon need.
Nature of Architecture
Architecture is a continuous search for total basic human needs in shelter- emotional, psychological as well as merely physical. Then it becomes a valid enduring Art.
One of the most basic functional definitions of architecture is: a structure built by humans to avoid the adverse natural elements, sheltering from wind and rain.
In this sense, architecture is an interface between human and nature. It acts as a shelter from the adverse natural elements, and at the same time, allows the passage of the advantageous natural elements. In fact, the so called “adverse” and “advantageous” natural elements are interchangeable under certain circumstances. In the example of sunlight, permitting excessive solar gain in summer is an adverse condition while, allowing and providing for adequate daylighting is an advantage.
The ultimate goal of balancing forces is to create a humane and comfortable environment.
Just as the ancient philosopher Laotse wrote in his Tao Te Ching:
Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
The built structure – what is there – serves as a physical interface with the world. Architectural space – what is not there – serves as an interface for humans in the world and creates usefulness.
These two define each other; they are inseparable.
Building structures can be termed situational architecture. By situational, I mean something created in the presence of the upcoming forces and influences. At the site, it is the method of design that shapes architecture in the presence of the forces of the time and location, visions and characters of the moment.
As the situation may change with time, place, program or people, so architecture must follow. Thus the basic system must be adaptable and flexible in order to react to the situation, but still conserve the ‘DNA’ and goals of the overall organization.
Extending the Landscape
The buildings, ideally nestled in tree canopies, can be seen as an extension of the natural formation and the larger landscape. They co-exist as essential parts of the surrounding topography, greenscape, and water system.
The architecture grows from dynamic forces on site. Mayor (major?) design forces may influence the design building elements, for instance facades can be formed by ‘natural’ forces’ similar to a canyon which is formed from force of a river as it carves out its bed over the years.
Through this action and reaction, every building has an identity of its own. Still, the buildings form parts of a whole. Though the functions are diverse, the individual houses belong together and follow the typology in harmony.
The buildings can have open courtyards covered by simple greenhouse structures with indoor gardens and water bodies providing a Mediterranean climate. These courtyards will be naturally conditioned and provide an intermediate climate. They can be used for circulation, and for space to relax and interact.
We once believed that through technology we could conquer nature, but reality has shown otherwise. Excessive modification and intervention with nature by mankind has caused a disturbance to the balance of the world, and eventually threatens human existence and development.
We have come to realize that true sustainable development is the harmonized co-existence with nature. Truly green architecture makes the best use of natural elements – such as sun, water, soil, air and plants – to create a comfortable built environment in which mankind may live and develop while minimizing the impact to the balance of things. At times, we can even proceed without altering the existing natural environment.
Though the ‘newness’ of such ideas is proving provocative, the understanding of sustainable development is not new knowledge. Ancient philosophies, from Chinese and other ancient civilizations, emphasized the sustainable development ideology such as “Nature and Human as One Entity”, and “Follow and Adapt to Nature”.
Sustainable Creativity / Creative Sustainability
In order to reach a high level of Sustainable Creativity, the development should support a place for design free of violence and fear. The environment can help to transform the idea of separation into a matrix of unity. The art of creating and designing supports interconnected forms of life as shown in the city. This can be called Creative Sustainability.
In the ‘tissue’ of the design world, the creative city can be seen as the ‘acupunctural center’ on the meridian for creativity.
Sustainability / Plus- Impact:
The creative city development is based upon the ‘Plus-Impact” methodology.
The development nestles in an environment of green and water gardens creating a situation where the environment, people, and other forms of life will benefit from improvement in microclimate, water use, purification of soil and water, and Oxygen surplus through plants and trees [this sentence feels a little like a run-on]. All energy will be produced locally or regionally and energy production/ demand will be net zero over the year. Surpluses of oxygen production will more than offset site CO2 emissions.
The Creative City will be a landscape park with water and plants. Myriad ‘gardens’, open fields, and bio swales will serve not only for enjoyment for all visitors, but also form the basis for photosynthesis as the ‘natural air conditioner’ of the area.
Green leaves will produce shade and oxygen. Natural winds will evaporate water and keep the temperatures moderate while filtering air and creating microclimates. Vegetation will be developed in such a way as to enhance complex habitats of plants and animals. Indigenous species and native plant families will be supported or reintroduced with options for orchards and flower gardens. Indoor winter gardens will provide interaction with plants during times of harsh outside climates. Indoor climates and air quality are influenced by plants in a positive way.
Sun and Wind Power
The sun is the essential energy source of the planet and, daylight the most vital ‘component’ for life, creativity, experiencing space, architecture, art and nature.
The use of the sun’s energy and light aspect will be very important for this project.
Orientation of building and double facades for solar gains in cold season, the optimized use of natural light, and the use of natural ventilation/ thermal mass in summer can allow the building structures to be both environmentally and human friendly.
Active solar systems, such as PV arrays, will be integrated into the building roofs for power production.
Vertical Axis silent wind turbines will aesthetically complement the building features and produce power.
Energy Efficient Structures and Energy Generation
Each building will be energy optimized through the use of Passive House standards: energy saving envelopes, daylight control, and passive systems combined with active systems using cutting edge technologies for energy generation, heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting.
The goal is a zero impact facility. This means that the energy required to operate the facility is offset fully by the energy created on-site with no resultant CO2 or NOX pollution from the development.
On site energy generation will be achieved through a combination of technologies:
On the building level PV panels and vertical wind turbines are provided.
On the district level there are options for a generative energy facility:
1. On a district or regional level: A Solar Tower (solar thermal system) with heliostats which ‘fire’ a steam turbine or with electrical output and usable waste heat (for sea water desalination for instance).
2. A more local solution: geothermal field for seasonal energy storage in combination with PV panel fields on building roofs.
Typically Solar thermal systems (like a Solar Tower) are more efficient compared to PV cells and can provide the opportunity to store energy temporarily. In general, they have been built in areas far from developments, are large in size, and are not integrated into the functional and architectural environment.
However there is a possibility to integrate such a solar thermal energy system (through the Solar Tower) into a city or to keep it outside as a power plant. It is a safe and proven technology.
As all heating and cooling is provided by water based radiant systems, typical mechanical noises from big fans, compressor or cooling towers will not be found. Mechanical movement of air in buildings will be kept at a rate that is appropriate for hygienic purposes, ideally through displacement ventilation with low air velocities.
Even the integrated wind turbines will be relatively ‘silent’.
Silent systems will contribute to the ‘romantic’ character of the Creative City.
Buildings will have sophisticated, well insulated and airtight envelopes. The goal is to achieve Passive House Standard in order to reduce heating and cooling demand and create very stable indoor climates with optimized use of daylight.
Glazed portions of the building must incorporate exterior sunshade, and second layer (double façade system) can help to optimize insulation and solar gains.
Indoor Climate Zoning
The buildings have various climate zones: ‘climatized’ for the functional programs, ‘semi climatized’ for recreational areas like break-out spaces and kitchenettes, and ‘unclimatized’ for winter garden zones.
Correct zoning will have a large impact on energy efficiency of the built structure.
Life Cycle analysis
To fully adhere to the concept of sustainable design, we must tailor the quantitative assessment of a specific building to include economic (Life Cycle Costing) as well as environmental metrics. The basis for the quantitative environmental assessment will be:
Resource consumption/ conservation
Energy consumption/ conservation
Climate change (Greenhouse Gases)
Local air emissions and water pollution (e.g. particle emissions, emissions of hydrocarbons) as well as the associated environmental effects/ measures like Acidification (air), Eutrophication (water), Smog potential/ Ozone Creation in Troposphere (air)
Environmental and economic interactions occur along the total life cycle of a project, and therefore all phases should be included in the assessment. The life cycle starts with the manufacturing, includes the use of the building and urban systems, and ends at the eventual demolition phase.
To achieve a comprehensive understanding, the process of Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing should begin at the start. This approach ensures that shifts of environmental loads among life cycle phases will be identified and that the overall design can be optimized to achieve the goals set by the requirements of sustainable development.
The assessment of the initial concept will show the environmental and economic performance over the considered life span, e.g. 50 /100 years for buildings, and will be used to determine areas for improvement.
Based on initial assessment, the relevant building or urban aspects will be identified from a life cycle perspective and alternative options can be discussed. Environmental and economic performance which takes into account the total life cycle (planning, building and running the building over its lifetime) can shift the ecological/ economic impacts in order to achieve the most sustainable design.
Based on experience, the environmental performance over the life cycle is dominated by the activities during the use of the building (energy consumption). Therefore, various scenarios on energy savings and energy supply will be analyzed. The following alternative energy supply routes/ technologies will be considered:
Solar energy (photovoltaic/ solar thermal energy)
Passive systems (orientation, daylighting, natural ventilation, thermal mass etc.)
Options of Energy storage/ Cold storage in order to cover peak loads
Hydrogen produced on site by electrolysis using photovoltaic
Geothermal Energy (earth duct, wells etc.)
Potential of Wind energy (power generation, chimneys)