Nature, comfort, innovation: for a contemporary model of sustainability
Creating ever more innovative and sustainable housing solutions is one of the fundamental challenges of our time. In the last decades, a new environmental sensitivity has permeated many sectors, influencing and sensitizing our lifestyle, way of doing business, of conceiving spaces, and, obviously, of thinking architecture.
A new environmental awareness has been transferred to all those who are a part of a cycle that is responsible for establishing a relationship between the environment, a building and those who inhabit it, with the aim of guaranteeing human well-being and progressively eliminating environmental impact.
The Spanish architect Luis Garrido defined true sustainable architecture as “one that satisfies the needs of its occupants, at any time and place, without jeopardizing the well-being and development of future generations.” Favoring sustainability implies that many of the players in the field of architecture are aligned and aware. Architects, suppliers, artisans, engineers, governments, business managers all contribute to the great transformation of our model towards a deeply sustainable and innovative one. Cities emerge as players in the great transformation of our model. The most enlightened councils recognize these new practices and are taking steps towards the creation of spaces designed to meet this balance.
Tarifa, in Andalusia, is moving in this direction. The public-private initiative to rearrange the Albacerrado hills is a brilliant example. The ambitious project seeks to create a new residential model: open, ecological, strategic, sustainable, socially useful. Designed as a great meeting place between the present and the past, the Tarifa project embodies a new concept of urbanization fully integrated with the landscape and its characteristics.
The whole residential area is shaped using materials that come from the reuse of waste of ceramics from local brick factories, as well as implying prefabricated elements for façades reducing drastically the quantity of cement used, and counting on textile sun shadings all over the installation. But we learnt that in our days that a truly effective sustainability is not bound exclusively to the use of ecological materials and renewable energy but has a way wider scope.
Promoted by the Tarifa city council and Metrovacesa, the project stems from a contemporary sustainable awareness and the intention behind it is to achieve ecological sustainability in this unique natural area and make for an economic and social viability of the touristic activity. In the long term. The project will unseasonalise the current tourist offer, generating equipment and services that allow its occupation throughout the year, as well as maintaining local employment on a permanent basis, always with health, sport, nature and the landscape as shared values.
In terms of construction approach, the whole residential areas is build in a open model in which the buildings unfold along the hill slopes, protecting naturally the building from the wind action, make for a natural ventilation, sheets of water and pants. Instead of enclosing the urbanization area, the buildings look like the wind itself split them apart: this beautiful and smart choice generate free and dynamic spaces for activities, public gatherings, while integrating the vegetation and letting nature get in.
From this same awareness generates another project applying this contemporary practices to offices building. The building, located in Calle de Josefa Valcárcel in Madrid, was designed aiming at a drastic reduction of the environmental impact. The goal of reducing the CO2 emissions is strongly entwined with energy efficiency, which is achieved by means of a thorough study of the building surroundings with special attention to the study of the impact of sun light and a careful design of the totality of the building facilities including, among other elements, a photovoltaic installation of high performance on the roof and a 100% led lighting featuring individual control for each one of its elements, all designed to reduce to the minimum the energetic needs. This, together with the improvement of thermic isolation in order to reduce the energetic needs, makes for an totally autosufficient and green building. Besides of course a clever use of recycled and sustainable materials, the reduce of water consumption through smart metering is the another great asset of the project.
Finally, understanding the human satisfaction as central in sustainable practises is now crucial. In light of this, besides applying special measures to regulate the ventilation and the air quality in the interiors, the spaces were designed to offer its users great views of the outside and offer well-illuminated areas, filled with natural light and providing a great comfort and quality of living. All of this, allowed the building to proudly implement the most prestigious international certifications for sustainability, LEED GOLD and BREEAM EXCELLENT, which Metrovacesa decided to adopt to show a new model of building which merges values of sustainability with high-quality design, comfort of the user, efficiency, and innovative practises, making clear its commitment as a company towards such contemporary sustainable approach.