From the beginning of the new century, climate change, pollution and sustainability have caught the attention of the public opinion worldwide.
Little by little, society pushed economy to act following a green approach: the spread of the organic foods, the birth of the sharing economy and the attention for the recycling activities are just some examples of this trend.
Architecture too has been influenced by this green wave and a greater sensibility to these subjects has been shown in an increasing number of projects all around the world.
Oberhus, Unterhus and Türmlihus are the three twin-houses designed by Peter Zumthor in the Grisons canton. From 2009 to 2013, he realized the project, located at 1500 meters on the sea level.
The houses are completely in wood and thought like light-boxes between the sky and the mountains. They occupies an area of 140 mq each developed on 3 levels: on the ground floor there is the utility room, on the first floor the bedrooms and the guestrooms, while on the last floor there are the living room and the kitchen.
The pinewood and the landscape are the real protagonists of this project: the structures are characterized by big windows creating an extraordinary dialogue between the “outside” and the “inside”. In fact, it seems like that the houses are opened to the external world, where the wood is the linking element creator of this connection.
In Portugal, not far from Lisbon, the blaanc workshop has designed Casa da Vinha, a property dedicated to the wine production including a one-family house.
The nature is at the center of this project: the villa, of 320 m2, is developed on just one floor (for creating a continuity with the visual linearity of the vineyard) and it shows the use of local materials and techniques.
An example is the use of the rammed earth for the construction of the external walls: this practice is still present in Portugal and it has been chosen because of its ecological features (it is a perfect thermal and acoustic insulator). It has also a strong aesthetic value: some part of the walls show the rammed earth, reminding to big paintings marking the space of the room.
For reducing the use of electricity, the villa has some devices aiming to exploit the natural light, as for example the patio conceived for enlightening the rooms on the northern side of the building.
On the perimeter, some cork oaks protect the house from the sun, creating a fresh atmosphere inside the walls.
In Amsterdam, the MeesVisser workshop has followed the construction of a villa conceived on the principles of the green architecture, aiming to reduce the environmental impact.
The building sees the use of rough pinewood for the external facades, where big windows give an incredible airy sensation to the all structure.
The house is developed on 4 floors, covering a surface of 240m2, totally focused on the eco-friendly philosophy: in fact, some solar panels on the roof and a system for the rainwater recycle increase the sustainability of the project.
The disposition of the internal space is thought for exploiting the natural light: thanks to the windows –in fact, replacing the walls in some cases- all the rooms receive a good quantity of light, both on the southern and the northern side.
Another example of ecologic house has been designed by ARS° Atelier de Arquitecturas in Mexico, in the region of Ajijic, where lakes and mountains are the protagonists of the landscape.
The architects have taken inspiration from the environment, using eco-friendly materials and discovering the local building traditions.
Covering 234 m2 and developed on 2 floors, the villa external walls are made in reinforced concrete, with some inserts in Palo Dulce, a local tree, light but very resistant, for protecting the southern side of the building from the rays of the sun.
Indoor, the disposal of the space is very rational: on the ground floor the kitchen and the living room, while the bedroom is on the first floor.
A very particular device of this project is located in the kitchen: located in a not very enlightened space of the house, architects have let the light filtering from the roof just above the kitchen, through a series of concave beams.
Thanks also to the solar panels and the recycling system of the rainwater, the building is in harmony with the surrounding nature.
The increasing importance of the environmental cause has led people and professionals to rethink about the way villas, houses and apartment were designed and built.
It has been the occasion to discover old-new materials, mostly available on the local area, with incredible properties, or to improve techniques used by centuries but “forgotten” in the last decades.
It is a very exciting exercise which opens new frontiers to the fantasy of the designer and leads to the creation of new projects.