Innovations That Matter

Top 7 Sustainable Architecture Innovations From 2020

Innovation Snapshot

From the creative use of repurposed materials to new ways of generating clean energy, these solutions stood out the most in 2020.

Despite the global health crisis, we have seen innovation in sustainable architecture continue to flourish — and in some cases, solutions to COVID have been incorporated into eco-friendly designs.

There seems to be no stopping the growing demand for sustainable building, which is being driven in part by the desire of purpose-driven companies doing their part to combat the climate crisis, but also by the realisation that sustainable buildings are often cheaper to heat, cool, maintain and build. 

From addressing land availability issues and making eco-housing affordable and accessible, to the creative use of repurposed materials and new ways of generating clean energy, the following solutions in sustainable architecture and building design stood out the most in 2020.

Photo source Goldsmiths

1. FLOATING CHICKEN FARM ADDRESSES LAND AVAILABILITY ISSUES IN ROTTERDAM

A lack of available land is no longer a barrier to raising poultry or even larger farm animals, in the city – as long as there is water nearby. Dutch architecture firm Goldsmiths has designed a floating poultry farm, which will be placed in the Merwehaven harbour area of Rotterdam. The farm is designed to combine different functions in a relatively small space.

The Floating Farm Poultry will house up to 7,000 hens on a top floor above the water’s surface and use LED lights to grow cress in a submerged basement. Egg processing will take place on the “ground” level. The farm includes a publicly accessible walkway around the above-water levels of the building, which allow visitors to see how every aspect of the farm operates.

Read more about the Floating Farm Poultry.

Photo source Paul Vu Photography for Ecotech Design

2. LUXURY HOTEL EXPERIENCE IN A RECYCLED SHIPPING CONTAINER

California winery Cass Wines opened a hotel amidst the rolling hills of its scenic vineyard. The Geneseo Inn was developed by Ecotech Design and is based around the use of 20 recycled shipping containers, set around a 60-foot live oak tree.

Locally-sourced, recycled materials, including recycled steel, glass, barn materials and decking, are also used on the exterior, which is painted to complement the wineries’ labels. 

Read more about the Geneseo Inn.

Photo source Valentino Gareri

3. ‘TREE-HOUSE SCHOOL’ DESIGNED FOR THE COVID ERA

US-based designer Valentino Gareri has come up with a modular educational centre concept featuring two ring-shaped structures that blend outdoor and indoor spaces. The “Tree-House School” addresses health concerns stemming from COVID-19 while incorporating sustainable features and a modular design that allows for future expansion based on capacity needs.

Classrooms would be well-ventilated, and social distancing would be easier to achieve due to the extra spaces incorporated in the design. Rooms can also be repurposed for different functions, including temporary medical centres or short-term residential units.

Sustainable features include rainwater collection and wind energy devices. These would be visible to the students, located on the roof, allowing for sustainability to become part of the educational experience.

Read more about the “Tree-House School”.

Photo source NODE

4. CARBON-NEGATIVE HOMES PUT TOGETHER LIKE IKEA FURNITURE

One company leading the way in building eco-friendly homes is the Seattle-based startup NODE, who are making beautifully designed, affordable, energy-efficient homes. he houses have a flat-pack design that can be built quickly and inexpensively by four people — in as little as two weeks.

They are designed to be constructed quickly, similar to IKEA’s model, and the materials are prefabricated for the home and packaged into compact boxes. The compactly packaged building materials can be easily shipped without needing any specific transportation vehicles, or special permits or licenses.

Read more about NODE’s flat-pack homes.

Photo source Spiral Tower

5. SUSTAINABLE HIGH-RISE DOUBLES AS A TOURIST EXPERIENCE

Inspired by the London Eye and designed by a consortium of Dutch businesses, Spiral Tower could be the world’s first climate-neutral high-rise tourist attraction. Built of lightweight steel and encasing a vertical garden, the tower consists of tracks taking artificial intelligence-steered cabins through the spiral viewing experience.

The windows of each cabin include augmented reality technology that layers the 360-degree view with additional, in-depth city information. Each cabin contains its own engine that generates electricity on the downward half of the route. All the power needed to run the attraction is generated by the combination of solar panels located at the base and on the sides of the tower and a windmill at the top.

Read more about the Spiral Tower.

Photo source Powerhouse Company

6. GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE LEADERS TO WORK FROM ENERGY-NEUTRAL, FLOATING OFFICES

The Floating Office Rotterdam is currently under construction and will house the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA). Set in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven harbour, the three-floor office building includes a living roof, solar power and self-sufficient heating and cooling systems. Large overhangs on all sides shade and cool the building, and the modular, wooden construction means the entire structure can be taken apart, moved and rebuilt at a different location.

Read more about the Floating Office Rotterdam.

Photo source Daily Paper Clothing

7. CLOTHING STORE INCORPORATES REPURPOSED MATERIAL, AFRICAN ART INTO NYC STORE

Dutch fashion label Daily Paper has recently opened a flagship store in New York featuring some unusual, repurposed materials – empty drinks cans. The façade of the store is decorated using around 14,000 recycled white, green and black aluminium cans.

The cans were all manually cut and crushed, then glued and screwed onto panels in an intricate lattice pattern recalling traditional African beadwork. The store’s design also includes a massive glass cut-out to draw light in from a skylight, and a huge mosaic at the entrance, representing the constellation of stars that formed the day the brand was founded in 2012.

Read more about Daily Paper’s new store.

Written and Curated By: Justin Sablich
Follow on Twitter: @JustinSablich