Written by Debra Morrall
Jean Nouvel’s new Louvre Abu Dhabi is being hailed as the most acclaimed ‘smart architecture’ so far this century. A majestic structure that encompasses eight layers of intricately woven structure it allows light to punctuate at the start and end of the day, when its heat is most tolerated. At the hottest part of the day when the sun is overhead, the structure is almost impenetrable.
© Laurian Ghinitou
© Mohamed Somji
Nouvel is no newcomer to the party. His first smart building was presented to world in 1987 with the opening of the Institut du Monde Arabe, in Paris, a building that was wrapped in camera lens style cladding which imitated Arabic art yet worked to open up and close off the interior space to capture and distribute light.
Smart Architecture is what will be needed in our towns and cities at the climate changes, air pollution worsens, water levels rise and we experience more erratic weather patterns and a new movement has grown in response to this problem. Biomimicry Architecture is design that responds to weather conditions and air quality, like a plant or even a person. A building designed in this way will be programmed to respond to what is needed to keep a building warm or cool, naturally lit and well ventilated.
© Tamsyn Williams
Habitat 2020 is an architectural technology being developed in China, which suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the world. The idea is that a building has a coating that works in the same way as human skin. This skin would move automatically, letting in light and cutting down the need for lighting during the day. The same movement in the building’s exterior would allow air and wind to travel through a space, providing clean air and natural air-conditioning. The building’s skin would also be capable of rain water harvesting. This captured water would be purified, filtered, used and then recycled. The skin could even absorb moisture from the air. Any waste produced would be converted into biogas energy for other building uses.
Architectural materials that are programmed to respond to external air changes or the advance of new weather fronts, are also being explored at great length. Genomic instructions programmed into the material itself will ensure that our homes will be able to tell us what shape and size it needs to be and will adapt itself accordingly.
Like Blue Technology, in the future we will demand so much more from every product we use in our homes. Roofs that generate heat, walls that breathe to allow air flow to travel through and paint, like Airlite, that will turn those walls into a natural air purifier, The future is an exciting and environmentally challenging place to be.