The 21st century has been heralded as the information era. We have smart phones and smart cars and there is a general consensus that by and large we are the most educated and most technologically advanced we have ever been.
When comes to modern practices, we like to think we have not backtracked and that we continue to advance, a belief that, in many areas, cannot be refuted.
In terms of architecture, the advancements that have become common practice in major developments, ranging from the incorporation of technological elements from design to construction in both CAD and BIM software, new cutting edge, and new industry practices and knowledge, are clear.
However, armed with the knowledge of the environmental impacts of this industry, developing tools and buildings that are ‘smarter’ is a necessity.
Shebloc by architectural firm A-ngine is being lauded as the next big thing in ‘smart’ architecture. Using digital mapping, the concept project for a mixed-use housing development in Scheveningen in the Netherlands, takes research and environmental concerns into key consideration.
Before the design phase for Shebloc even begins, the architects explain that the geography of the land, including tide levels, flood risks and various other elements of the space are studied and understood so that the architecture can be ‘contextualised’.
By data sourcing in this manner, the building can be designed and constructed in a way that optimises natural daylight and natural ventilation, fits into the landscape rather than clashing with it, and avoids a number of issues that often come to light only after initial excavation works on a site begins.
This kind of development methodology is the height of considered design, and places due emphasis on the natural environment leading the process.
As green building becomes a more sophisticated and intelligent sector, the standards for what truly makes something environmentally responsible, sustainable or ‘green’ are rising. It is no longer simply enough to do initial environmental damage and then go back and repair or offset it.
That is why this example, and a growing number of examples like it, are ‘smart’. They considered the larger environmental picture, which in turn safeguards the built as much as it does the natural, not just in the present, but on a long-term basis.