‘Green’ Architecture Ireland

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    • #704992
      DARA H

      I thought I’d start this new topic in reference to the last few posts in ‘Gehry for Smithfield’, and especially to GREGF – it IS possible to construct stylish new buildings, that at the same time are also ‘green’ buildings.

      Q. Are architects in Ireland interested in ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ buildings?

      Q. Is ‘green’ architecture such an unknown quantity that it scares off developers and maybe some architects?

      I know that Fingal Co. Co. has moved into it’s new ‘green’ offices in Swords and that the architects (Bulcholz McEvoy) are going to design Limerick Co.Co.s H.Q., but is there any likelihood of more ‘big’ green developments (offices or otherwise) in the near future, and green buildings in general becoming a more common place?

      If people are interested, I could post some names & some details of ‘stylish’ AND ‘sustainable’ offices in Europe.

      Any opinions/ insights welcome!

    • #716028

      Good idea.Dara. I heard recently about a proposal by U.C.C. to build a ‘green’ building in Cork somewhere, near the new marine college. Keep my eyes open on that.

    • #716029

      I’m all on for green buildings and saving our environment but what constitutes a green building. It’s not just an atrium filled with superficial varities of flora, and fanciful trees is it or a roof garden either. It must comprise of earth friendly or recycled materials must’nt it. No products of heavy industry which scars the land and rapes it of its natural minerals and the products of such, ie steel, glass, plastics,timber cement, etc… All that muck that fills the air. Is it a building that does’nt over produce too much heat so that it inhabitants almost choking to death have to open the windows or invest in expensive air conditioning, thus all that energy lost. It’s not a building either where there’s no natural light omitted in part because the achitect did’nt know what a window was that the electric lighting is on all day. Solar panelling would’nt go down too well here in Ireland …..well there’s the possibility of a wind turbine on the roof. If only we could harness all that energy too of the busy little workers frantically working away….think of all the heat and gasses produced. Those bloody lift shafts too, people should use the stairs and lose some pounds…….and do we need all that water for that loo flush.

    • #716030
      DARA H

      Features of ‘sustainable’ buildings.

      VENTILATION – Windows that can be opened by hand or electronicly, with system of air vents & ducts &/or cold/warm-air heat exchangers placed strategicaly for effect (e.g. up in the roof).

      HEATING – Offices produce lots of their own heat through people and computers etc. use ventilation (mentioned above) to control temperature (can use computers for environmental control).
      – Thermal massing : using very thick walls + insulation to lessen the effect of temperature fluctuation due to outside conditions (and retain heat too).

      LIGHT – Lots of windows (but less on north face) that are insulated and some system of shading to counteract too much sun (& heating) on Sth. facing sides.
      – Do not make buildings that are too ‘deep’ (so people/spaces are not too far from natural light) answer in big ‘green’ buildings is often to use an atrium to break the building into two parts (or atrium in centre).

      MATERIALS – Use less energy intensive materials where possible or, where benefits outweigh disadvantages e.g. a building that is wood framed with glass and bricks (reclaimed?) could be considered less ‘energy intensive’ material wise, then say, a steel-reinforced concrete structure.

      – Use recycled materials and avoid chip-board tables and other products that might give off harmful gases (from the solvents used etc.)

      Above list is not meant to be comprehensive and many elements of green buildings work together e.g. ventilation and heating.

      I will give soem examples later on today of actual (stylish/’striking’) ‘green’ buildings in Europe.

      Note: While initial building cost for ‘green’ buildings are higher then average, their running costs are inveriably less than average (commercial or domestic buildings.

    • #716031
      DARA H

      Different thought – Could ‘sustainable’ (building) criteria incorporated into buildings result in new styles of architecture emerging? I.e. the function of sustainable construction and operation of a building being the genesis of new forms and ‘styles’. For example, modern military jet fighters are constructed solely for one purpose – combat flying – but, they often end up ‘looking good’.

      Examples of ‘Green’ offices – Europe
      (Some of their features)

      NMB Bank (Amsterdam) conception 1980 – built mid-‘80’s?
      Architect – Ton Alberts
      Almost 1km long. 50,000m2 floor space & 28,000m2 basement parking.
      2000 employees
      Orange/Red brick build. 4-5 storeys.
      All work stations within 7 meters of a window. No air- conditioning plant!
      Thermal mass used to even out fluctuation of heat from sun and staff.
      ‘Natural’ materials used – avoided chip-boards and plastics (to avoid formaldehyde gas and CFC’s and other V.O.C.s (Volatile OrganicCompounds -which are presumed to induce headaches & stiff necks and possibly bronchial problems)
      Stairwell ‘towers’ given prominence to encourage staff to walk up stairs + also functioned as circulation and (natural) light providers.
      Staff can open windows for air & there are air vents etc.
      Detailing and ‘human-scale’ given to the exterior of the building by exclusive use of orange/red bricks of different sizes and placement.
      Primary energy demand of 111 kW/m2 which was to equate to a saving of approximately $1.3 million dollars in running costs per year compared to a building of similar size constructed in the late 70’s.

      Helicon Building (London) Late? 1990’s
      Architects – Sheppard Robson
      Very contemporary looking. Floor plates 2,175m2 in area.
      ‘Mixed-use’- primarily offices but incl. a bank and a shop.
      Triple-glazed façade with ventilated cavity, integral solar & glare shading.
      Each façade varies according to orientation to sun (varies in terms of amount of glazing, (and insulation too?))

      SAS Airlines (H.Q.) (Near Stockholm) 1990s
      Architect – Niels Torp
      Very nice, modern looking building. 1,500 employees
      5 individually distinct buildings.
      Glazed straight through centre to enhannce natural light and modify climate.
      A ‘road’ runs through the building with trees, shops and cafes, a restaurant and a swimming pool, waterfalls and bridges so…employees can go for a stroll (and no rain!). Shading used for some windows and glazing levels vary according orientation to sun.

      BRE Low-Energy offices (England?’90s?)
      Stack-induced night ventilation to lower day-time temperatures (‘stacks’ look like polished, stainless steel chimneys. Slightly odd-looking building but not (I think), ugly.

    • #716032
      paul leech GAIA eco

      I am glad to see colleagues taking an interest in a subject which has preoccupied me for more than twenty years, not entirely ineffectively.

      The archeire discussion needs to ‘fast forward’ to approach the state of the art, globally and in ‘these islands’.

      How much interest is there?

      I would suggest that anyone interested might like to attend the next meeting of the Ecological Design Association (Irish Branch) Tuesday 28th November at City Arts Centre (Corner City Quay /Mosse Street – opposite IFSC) on Tuesday next 28th November at 7.00 pm. and / or contact the Secretary re this and subsequent regular meetings.

    • #716033
      paul leech GAIA eco

      secretary eco design assoc ireland is at “teobrien@eircom.net”

    • #716034
      Paul Clerkin

      Paul, why dont you keep us up-to-date with events etc, email them to me at info@archeire.com and i’ll put the details up on archeire…..

    • #716035
      paul leech GAIA eco


      I’ll ask the current chairperson and secretary to do that.

      Watch out for a new book

      “Taking Shape:A new Contract between Architecture and Nature “

      Butterworth /Heinemann by Susannah Hagan early in 2001:see current RIBA new books list or their website :

      Out now is by Bjorn Berge (a GAIA International colleague)

      “Ecology of Building Materials”

      Butterworth Heinemann (£50 sterling):a good investment for any practice and the Schools’ libraries ?

    • #716036
      Paul Clerkin

      Grand, we could put together a section for archeire on green architecture and issues.

    • #716037
      DARA H

      Great, that sounds good. I could contribute some other references for books as my university here has an MSc in ‘sustainable development’. As such, they have a good section (in the architects library) devoted to green architecture.

    • #716038

      Dara. I think the inland revenue buildings
      in Nottingham are considered another
      example of sustainable architecture but one
      thing which is rarely published about sustainable buildings are the actual results
      of the design. Many critics have attacked
      current solutions on the grounds of the
      limited degree of control users have leading to overheated space or underheated space.The
      field of sustainable architecture suffers from its very unscientific approach. Either
      architects are willing to test these things
      til they fail or use unwilling punters as
      guinea pigs which is to say the least a little too dogmatic

    • #716039
      paul leech GAIA eco

      All buildings should be subject to post occupancy review and monitoring: few in fact are.

      The tests applied to sustainable buildings are, in practice, higher and more exacting and accurate than to those desigened using(hitherto) conventional practice as they are frequently innovative and sometimes there is a budget for proper monitoring; there is an extensive literature on the subject.

      It is true that it is much more successful, in perceived comfort terms, to leave control of the environment with the actual user.If a person knows that they can in fact open the window they may or may not actually do so, but they feel better and the ‘comfort band’ is wider. If for example ,light and ventilation are controlled ONLY by a BEMS (Building Energy Management System)it may be good cybernetics but it is not good architecture.

      A good balance may be to have ‘intelligent systems’ which switch lights off, modulate shading and heating systems but leave ‘override’ controls in the hands of the users.

      Arguably good quality sustainable design is much more sensitive in approach to both the user and the context.

      ‘Greenwash’ is no excuse for bad design, which does not ‘work’.

    • #716040

      From a design point of view I think a problem with traditional ‘green’ buiildings is a heavy-handed green aesthetic – that German firm (Log-id I think) produced buildings which had such a strong aesthetic (all that white render and aluminium patent glazing) that it was a turn off for later designers. To be smart about propagating green design you have to infiltrate and green from within design/consumer culture – STEALTH design

    • #716041

      There are tests and there are tests but
      the argument remains that many architects have pushed sustainable concepts through to
      the completed building stage without rigorous testing and the actual savings in
      energy fall well below predicted savings and
      the quality of the interior environment no more comfortable than more conventional design which has a tried and tested track record. The use of blinds, brise soleil etc
      often obstruct views whereas good thick walls
      do the same job with the minimum of fuss.
      Alot of sustainable architecture is based not
      on new technology but ancient techniques of
      passive cooling and heating. I think the
      problem with Ireland is that the vernacular
      is beatifully restrained and uncomplicated
      and the central fireplace provided the natural ventilation, heating and cooling.

    • #716042

      I may be wrong on this but doesn’t the new Westminster Offices by Michael Hopkins utilise the traditional methods like chimneys etc to help cool the building?

    • #716043

      Westminster offices: Most expensive office
      space to build ever in UK

    • #716044
      DARA H

      I see in yesterdays Irish Times Property supplement that the Chartered Institute of Building has awarded a gold medal to a book called the “Green Building Handbook”.
      See below for a link to the article.

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