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Buildings of Questionable Purpose

Don’t want to be a grouch or anything, but have you ever wondered about how many sustainability awareness centres there suddenly are around the world? And about how many of those are in sensitive areas and – how shall we say? – overdesigned? Here’s three.

“The Sustainability Discovery Centre provokes visitors to discover where they are in terms of their own personal sustainability awareness and behaviour.”

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The Sustainability Discovery Centre provokes visitors to discover where they are in terms of their own personal sustainability awareness and behaviour. The ‘take home’ message is about achieving the balance between society, culture, environment and economy to transition the region towards sustainability for future generations. The experience is suitable for all ages . Exhibits include interactive cutting edge multimedia and hands-on discovery stations that facilitate exploration of sustainability in the past, present and future.
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“Paul Raff Studio has designed the Biosphere Sustainability Centre in the Thousand Island Region in Ontario, Canada, it is the multi-use cultural facility which will be a powerful catalyst to environmental, social and economic sustainable development.”

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Paul Raff Studio has designed the Biosphere Sustainability Centre in the Thousand Island Region in Ontario, Canada, it is the multi-use cultural facility which will be a powerful catalyst to environmental, social and economic sustainable development.
The multi-use facility will include exhibition and conference facilities, office space, a market hall and artisan studios as well as a plethora of green building strategies. Renewable energy will be harvested from a variety of sources while sustainable landscaping and a green roof will round out the project.

“The KIOSC not only provides space for education on sustainability but is also an energy efficient and eco-friendly building itself.”

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The Knox Innovation Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) is a joint project between seven different local schools and Swinburne University in Melbourne to provide excellent education in the areas of environmental sustainability and responsible management. Designed by Woods Bagot, the KIOSC not only provides space for education on sustainability but is also an energy efficient and eco-friendly building itself. Leading by example, the centre is used as a training hub and discovery center for students in grades 7 through 10.
Read more: Melbourne’s New Knox Innovation Opportunity & Sustainability Centre is Dedicated to Eco Education Knox Innovation Opportunity and Sustainability Centre-Woods Bagot – Gallery Page 3 – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

The program of these buildings seems as vapid as their copy and little more than a weak rationale for some soft-Modernist landscape intervening and portfolio-padding. These meagre excuses for building are even more apparent with the plethora of spectacular bat shelters and bird hides there seem to be these days.

Bird-brained

A bird hide is a building for a birdwatcher to hide in and watch birds. They used to look like this.

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Now they look like this.

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“The resulting wooden construction made of Siberian larch blends in well with the surrounding natural environment. As a sculpture made of beams and ledgers with diagonal bracing, it depicts a stylized figure of a sitting bird.”

Cheers for this gmp architekten. This is what happens when a practice partner sees a chance to “have a bit of fun” with a project to spice up an otherwise respectable portfolio.

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The birds found the one place they can’t be watched, cleverly using the structure to defeat its purpose?

Batty

Artist Jeremy Deller is bat happy; he loves these flying mammals. But they are becoming endangered due to the loss of their natural habitats. So he organised a competition to design a wildlife-friendly house for bats, to be built at the London Wetland Centre.

Bathouse
The white box looks like a picture in a frame. It has an invisible black roof to make the interior warmer. It is built of Hemcrete, an environmentally friendly mixture of hemp fibre and lime. This material allows the building to ‘breathe’ so it keeps the roosts at the right temperature. The design on the front and repeated on the back is made of layers of computer-cut fretwork panels. They are not just decorative but incorporate the small, dry, dark spaces bats love. The house has homes for at least 8 species of bats that have been noted at the Wetland Centre, and was designed with the advice of the Bat Conservation Trust.

The winning project was designed by two architecture students from the Architectural Association in London, Jorgen Tandberg from Oslo and Yo Murata from Tokyo. Deller’s verdict: “It’s great, I wouldn’t mind living there myself.”

Or how about this from (where else?) “design will save the world” inhabitat.

“The Bat House Visitor Center by Matt Fajkus Architecture is a fully-integrated, sustainable building that provides much-needed nesting space for bats.”

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To offset the rigid prefabricated wood frames of the overall structure, a series of folded “origami” plates provide an effective enclosure for bat chambers as well as suitable landing areas.

You can see where this post is heading. If, say, construction activity is responsible for 30% to 40% of global carbon emissions, then surely it would make more sense to not build sustainability awareness centres at all, no matter how green. They don’t work. THE JETSTREAM IS SLOWING DOWN! Deck chairs, Titanics, etc. Until we sort this out, it might be better if the bats went unsheltered, the birds unwatched. Like I said, these are just my three pet buildings ostensibly satisfying needs that are in themselves questionable. I find such buildings offensive because they claim to be doing one thing whilst doing the opposite. You’ll have your own.

BOTTOM LINE: If we claim to be thinking about the environment and the impact of carbon emissions etc. etc. then shouldn’t the first question in any building rating system be “Is this building absolutely necessary?” 

 

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