Green Developments

Gordon Gill, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

Stress, heat, pollutants, artificial light, sedentary lifestyles … it’s little wonder the planet’s city dwellers are seeking respite when they travel. Whether drawn to the prospect of reconnecting with nature or investing in time to enhance their sense of wellbeing, more people today are electing to holiday in destinations with a wellness offering. Just as Asia has proven a pioneer of the spa resort, so too has the region been leading a movement to reverse the decline in quality of our built environments. Populations may explode, metropolises may sprawl, high-rises may climb ever higher but perhaps our urban spaces need not be the natural enemy of wellbeing. That’s certainly the thinking behind the green strategies being developed by progressive design studios in Asia and America. They believe it’s possible to create a sense of wellbeing both for people and the planet through a commitment to sustainable building design in urban settings and beyond.

Less is more
When Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) was founded in 2006, it was with the intention to specialise in high-performance, energy-efficient, sustainable design. Today the Chicago, Illinois-based firm is perhaps best known for the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, set to be become the world’s tallest skyscraper at over 1,000 metres high when construction is complete. Yet it is largely in Asia that the firm’s portfolio of architectural projects is rooted, with the practice commissioned to create environmentally sustainable spaces measuring anything from 2,000sqm to more than 500 hectares in size.

AS+GG partner Gordon Gill believes the growing movement for urban environmentalism is being driven by a combination of opportunity and need.

“As Asian cities proliferate, there is a massive amount of stress being placed on resources and infrastructure,” he says. “This need to start protecting natural resources has opened up opportunities where sustainable design lessons can be applied.”

Although AS+GG works across hospitality, leisure, residential, civic and commercial sectors, there is a common approach to all the firm’s projects regardless of their function.

“Sustainability is an integral aspect of our design philosophy, not an additional approach,” says Gill. “So we start any project by asking the same thing – how can we design buildings to need less while ensuring that people feel comfortable?”

More than a facade
To minimise energy demand, the firm employs a combination of passive design principles and interrelated systems.

Gill says: “A well-designed facade system is directly related to the heating and air-conditioning loads required of a building. If you correctly orientate a facade to blast out heat gains, this can lead to operational cost savings in a hot climate.”

The savings that developers can achieve will vary significantly according to the requirements of each project, but AS+GG’s approach typically brings about a 30 per cent reduction in heating, refrigerating and air-conditioning costs beyond ASHRAE standards. ASHRAE sets international codes in building system design and industrial processes, with a particular focus on the advancement of heating, ventilation and refrigeration sciences.

Another advantage of designing façades that respond to the climatic conditions around them is that they organically yield interesting spaces in the body of buildings. Designed to meet or exceed LEED Gold Certification, the new Sanya Bay Haitang Resort in China uses AS+GG’s self-shading ‘veil’ system. In addition to bringing about energy savings, the facade itself presents unique social and meeting facilities that take full advantage of the mountain or sea vistas towards which they face.

Future energy
Hospitality forms just one of the components of an exciting master plan that is currently keeping many of the practice’s employees busy. Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana is set to rise from a 174-hectare site and while the theme of the forthcoming world fair – Future Energy – is wholly appropriate, it is the legacy component of the project that has afforded AS+GG the opportunity to deploy its latest and, in some cases, experimental green techniques. Post-fair, the majority of the expo buildings, with the exception of fixed cultural sites, will be converted into permanent structures as part of a long-term community comprising offices, residences, retail, hotels and educational facilities.

“The legacy mode is the primary concern of our design for these buildings and the core mechanical and engineering systems are tied to this long-term use,” Gill says.

Responding to site-specific climate and land studies, buildings are being located to form mutually supportive structures that will protect one another from prevailing winds and snow drifts in the winter, allowing for the greatest percentage of solar absorption on-site.

Building-mounted photovoltaics will enable the harvesting of solar energy year-round, generating an estimated 20 per cent of the project’s energy needs, although in summer months, the glazed areas of façades will become self-shading. A vacuum waste-control concept will minimise the amount of waste management vehicles required throughout the site by funnelling garbage from disposal points located in all buildings to a central utility plant. Here, the waste will be sorted, cleaned, recycled and converted into energy. Instead of every building being equipped with an individual cooling tower, a district-level water-cooling system will respond to day and night behavioural usage patterns, improving efficiency of distribution across the community.

In one of the more experimental features, two giant wind turbines embedded into the main Expo Kazakhstan pavilion – which will remain as a centrepiece museum – will generate about 3 per cent of that respective building’s energy. It’s a low level of output compared to solar, but AS+GG also intends to link the turbines to the community’s urban parks, where they will assist in planned agricultural production by powering the nearby urban farms.

Furthermore, the very act of punching holes for turbines can be beneficial because it reduces wind load and drag coefficient on building surfaces. In some cases, this has resulted in buildings demanding 20 per cent less structure to deal with wind forces, an advantage that neatly feeds into the firm’s mission to “build less while maintaining comfort.”

As award-winning green advocates, Gill and his partners Adrian Smith and Robert Forest believe that developments in urban environments can cater to people’s wellbeing while simultaneously sustaining the environment. But in designing the projects of the future, the aim is to foster a relationship between nature and technology.

“We have to find a balance between our internal desires for the natural environment and the latest technologies,” says Gill. “In urban settings in particular, these two pursuits need not be in conflict. As architects, we are striving to develop communities where the two become mutually supportive.”

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Unrelenting drive to be the best at what we do underpins activity throughout our vertically integrated business life cycle.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The Panda House features separate spaces for the male and female pandas
David Zahle
"I realised we’d created an environment where it was more about talent and trust than how much experience you had."

Designing the Panda House for Copenhagen Zoo

BIG’s design for Google’s Charleston East Campus aims to foster a sense of community
Daniel Sundlin
"What defines BIG’s style of visual communication is that our diagrams clearly capture the essence of our projects, meaning that it’s very easy for people who don’t know our projects well to understand them."

The vision for Google's UK and US HQs

The Enea Tree Museum near Lake Zurich features 50 trees complemented by varied sculptures
ENZO ENEA
"Sociology and functionality are the two most important aspects when we design – how an individual lives and interacts"

On saving trees, working with Zaha Hadid and changing the face of Miami

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Passengers could travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes
Jakob Lange
"I was screaming out loud – it was impossible to hold back. This was something that had never been done before."

Head of BIG Ideas shares the latest on Virgin Hyperloop One

The three cultural organisations are set around a flexible public space
Jakob Sand
"Maybe a project ends up looking like a BIG building, but there’s no blueprint. If you have a good idea, we will look at it, whether you’re an intern or a partner."

On BIG's French adventure

The museum consists of four galleries, built into the surrounding sand dunes
Finn Norkjaer
"The Tirpitz Museum is very special. We have created a very clean and simple building, and we’ve been very honest with the materials."

On the Tirpitz Museum and his love of music

features
Beat Schenk
"Bjarke was this young kid, quite brash and totally insane, but with really good energy, directing the team about what to do next."

On meeting Bjarke Ingels at OMA and VIA 57 West

The 85m-high sloped roof at the Amager Resource Center doubles as a ski slope
Brian Yang
"You can be an intern on your first day and be expected to contribute to the design conversation. That’s something driven strongly by Bjarke."

How the idea of putting a ski slope on a factory roof was born

cladkit product news
AB Concept partners with House of Tai Ping for luxurious rug collection
The collection was inspired by the idea of looking down at the world from a great height
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design house AB Concept has partnered with bespoke rug specialist Tai Ping to create Nephele, an exclusive line of handcrafted ...
Rockin' around the Christmas tree: Lasvit partners with the Upper House hotel and Yabu Pushelberg for bespoke Christmas project
The tree is designed to greet guests with a design and light experience as they enter the hotel
Lauren Heath-Jones
Lasvit has partnered with design firm Yabu Pushelberg to create a bespoke Christmas tree for The Upper House, a boutique ...
RIBA North announces winter lineup
RIBA North opens its new season with the Cerámica exhibition
Lauren Heath-Jones
The RIBA North architectural centre in Liverpool, UK, has announced its lineup of events and exhibitions for the winter season. ...
cladkit product news
Brdr. Krüger to exhibit at IMM Cologne
The Theodor chair was named after studio co-founder Theodor Krüger
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish furniture company Brdr. Krüger will showcase a range of new and existing pieces at international interiors show, IMM Cologne. ...
Matteo Thun Atelier create hospitality collection inspired by Mediterranean atmosphere
The collection is designed to integrate with numerous architecture and interior projects across the hospitality sector
Kim Megson
The studio of Italian architect and designer Matteo Thun have produced a new range of wooden furniture designed for everything ...
Ma Yansong debuts out of this world furniture collection
Ma Yansong was inspired by science fiction and the possibility of life on Mars
Lauren Heath-Jones
Curation-led design gallery Gallery ALL debuted the MAD Martian Collection at Design Miami. Designed by Ma Yansong, founder and principal ...
cladkit product news
FAÇADE2017 winners
Ramboll was awarded for the Blavatnik Building, Switchouse Extension of the Tate Moder
Lauren Heath-Jones
A trio of British leisure facilities have been honoured in the Façade2017 awards. Established in 2013 by the Society of ...
HawkinsBrown complete timber pool facility for 'swimming among the trees'
The space has been designed as 'a welcoming retreat that engages with the mature woodland setting through the use of natural materials and colour schemes'
Kim Megson
Architects HawkinsBrown have completed an elegant timber pool hidden among the trees for a school in the English county of ...