Happy World Green Building Week !
22-29 September 2014 World Green Building Week
Architect Selçuk Avcı:
“the definition of a “Green Building” is a building that “learns” from nature and tradition which has developed over centuries by understanding nature…”
What is the first thing that you think about when some one asks you what should a “green building” look like?
“Well most people would literally come up with the image of a building covered in green planting. Some people would even suggest that it is a building painted green! İt is of course neither of these things and I hesitate in propagating this notion by continuing to use this term but there is really no better way of expressing what we really mean by environmentally sensitive (çevreye duyarlı) buildings. But if you ask me what this expression really means then I would say that it is a building that learns from nature or one that mimmicks nature. Not until long ago this is precisely what traditional buildings did. We as Avci Architects take a lot of our inspiration from nature . The observation of climate and nature gives form to buildings and makes them more localised.”
For example african ant hills which are constructed by African ants in climate conditions where at night temperatures fall to 2 degrees celcius and during the day rise to 40 degrees.
. The ant hills are constructed to keep the home of the ants at a stable 30 degrees which is the ideal preservation temperatures. It is a wonder of nature and at the same time a lesson that if we look closely at nature there are many lessons to be had.
Similarly the inhabitants of Harran in the sout east of Turkey near Urfa have been making mud brick houses for centuries and manage to live in extremely harsh summer and winter conditions without needing any complicated machinery to cool or heat the houses. Therefore the observation of climate and nature gives form to buildings and makes them more localised.
Here in Turkey for over a century now we have forgotten this tradition of learning from nature. We build buildings that look and behave exactly the same whether they are in Mardin or Istanbul.The same old concrete apartment houses litter every corner of the country and make no attempt to respond to the local climate conditions. There is surely something wrong here.
Our Turkish Contractors Association Building in Ankara is a good example of how we can learn from nature in a particular local climate. Here we learned that during summer Ankara has hot days of around 35 degrees celcius and cool nights of 15-18 degrees.
Why use expensive air conditioning devices that use expensive fuels to generate electricity which releases harmful gasses in to the atmosphere when you can naturally harness this resource and utilise it in the cooling of the building. So we designed a labyrinth below the car park of the new building which is a chamber of concrete block channels that store the cool night air.
We use simple mechanisms to release this stored coolness in to the building during the day and minimise the need to artificially cool the building. There fore you have a climate responsive building that works efficiently to minimise harm to the atmosphere.
So the definition of a “Green Building” is a building that “learns” from nature and tradition which has developed over centuries by understanding nature. But to truly understand these things we have to have a scientific basis and as architects in this country we do not get enough of a scientific education to do this. We have to stop thinking that architecture is purely about aesthetics or shape making and realise that it is also a sophisticated and complex form of science. We there fore have to change the education process of architects to include this science in an integrated way so that when architects go out in to the world they are full of this knowledge of the centuries.