Learning Curve: Designing Sustainably for the Future

Throughout the past few years in architecture school, a major topic of design that professors proposed is how can we design sustainably? Since buildings account for 46% of total carbon dioxide emissions, and 75% of total electrical use, we as architects are responsible for creative integrative system design solutions to ensure a more positive environmental impact. One approach can be the use of energy production components as both an energy system and a visual characteristic for a building.

A unique example includes the New Blauhaus’ that was recently completed in 2015. In its translation from German, the “New Blue House” provides a more contemporary version of bringing the public, education, and science sector together with the energy industry. The project is situated on the campus of Hochschule Niederrhein, University of Applied Sciences in Krefeld, Germany. It grew to be a collaboration between the school and NEW- an energy and water utility company to showcase the groundbreaking developments in the energy sector.

The displayed low-resource energy system of photovoltaic panels not only brings out the sculptural quality of oppositely inclined surfaces varying between these PV panels and blue-tinged glass panel, but also performs as a low-resource energy system. The panels are arranged to perfectly cooperate with the orientation and frequency of solar radiation hitting the site and cover the full energy demand to power the building to make it carbon neutral.  Stepping aside at a distance, these panels become integrated with the architecture to give form to the New Blue House as a sculptural gem.

images from Arch Daily

Learning Curve is an ongoing series from the perspective of our interning students who are currently in school to become the world’s next generation of designers.  

This edition is by Anastasia Spassennikova who is in her first year of the Master of Architecture program at the University of Washington. With a love for both math and art, architecture felt like the obvious path that would meld the two into one exciting career. Her passion for the profession grew when she realized it was a gateway to learning about people and locations in various contexts. Designing a building for a specific client allows the designer to learn more about that individual’s background and interests which makes every project unique. With the rare extra time outside of her studies, Anastasia enjoys exploring the world around her through drawing, painting and actively travelling to see things first hand.