The boom of sustainability concepts have seen such huge growth in our industry that we at the point of near complete Greenwash. Not only do they create beautiful renderings that inspire and excite, but they offer clever and innovative solutions to the fears of most of the world in terms of climate change.
It is only when reality sinks in that the rose-coloured glasses come off and the work boots go on.
Time after time, industry members have had incredible design feats paraded in front of them, presented as the next big thing, only to never make it off the page. This is an industry reality, one that makes members a little more cynical when it comes to designing concepts that offer too much.
Dubai is perhaps the best example of this. There is no doubting their industry growth and excellence, but ambition can sometimes go a little too far. The area is home to architectural concepts that have seemed impossible, and there is a simple reason for that.
Examples of failed concepts are increasing daily. One such example of a concept that is yet to make it off the page is Dubai’s Underwater Hotel. An underwater luxury hotel, that was conceptualised in 2007 for a 2009 open, which eventuated into a 2010 open and is still as yet to come to fruition. The company’s own statement regarding completion sheds zero light on the current state of development.
“If Dubai Underwater Hotel would finally open, it will truly (be) worth the visit to experience the rare underwater life” the statement reads, not doing any favours in instilling a sense of confidence in the project.
While there are numerous reasons for the project’s delay, including (most significantly) the Global Financial Crisis’ funding depletion, short of offering disappointment, the delays are only hurting developers and the construction team.
Now, in terms of sustainable design concepts, the issue becomes more involved. It is such a difficult line to determine – completely disregard innovation and squash any out of the box suggestions (a notion that history has shown is incredibly unwise)? Or promote the creation of completely unrealistic designs and label them as ‘architectural concepts’ rather than art? There is a fine line between provoking food for thought, an inspiration of sorts, and offering a false sense of possibility.
One such notion that the green building community is keeping its fingers crossed for it’s the Woods Bagot Zero – E development. Located on the Yangtze River in Chongqing China, what the architectural firm, in association with engineering consultancy Buro Happold is creating, is a state-of-the-art large scale sustainable community.
The most significant factor in this development is that it offers to provide a zero carbon community by 2050, by reversing the impacts of climate change. It is the perfect solution to the modern individual – no work on their behalf in order to achieve one of the world’s greatest goals.
The 450,000 sqm mixed-use development is set to include internal and external climatic monitors, the best performance usage of thermal power, absorption chillers, bio-fuel, and an anaerobic waste digester in a closed-loop system.
Through these technologies, as well as numerous others, the project promises to deliver a zero carbon natural-energy producing environment that adds to residents’ health, creates ecological growth and healing, and induces financial value.
It represents a green builder’s utopia, which is what makes the entire concept so controversial. Is it possible to allow for innovation and creativity in this industry, without creating false hope?
There are however those that break the mould and finally bring their concepts to life. Concepts like 10 Designs’ Tornado House, the tornado-proof house that uses a highly intelligent hydraulics system to lower a house into the ground when in built sensors detect extreme weather. It is concepts like these, and people like 10 Designs’ founder Ted Givens, who are paving the way for an industry movement that actually delivers what it promotes. It is now a waiting game to see if others follow in this focus on reality.