Living Buildings

So architecture is one of my greatest passions in life. So when I read an article about the Geotube building proposal in Dubai, I had to read more. It turns out that this building if built will suck water from the Persian Gulf through an underground pipeline then spray it over the mesh facade of the building. The sun would then evaporate the water and leave crystallized salt deposits stuck to the mesh. It is currently unknown how a solid layer of salt would effect the temperature inside the building but it is a brilliant idea.

The company proposing the project is Faulders Studio and this is not their first “living building” idea. They also did a proposal for the Biophyte Building in Tehran, which was going to be a building that used a recycling water system to maintain the level of dampness required for the abundance airborne spores to stick to the side of the building and, you guessed it, grow moss. A moss covered building. The location proposed for the building is consistently shaded by surrounding buildings so it would provide the proper environment for moss to grow.

The other notable “living building” is the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California. After closing the Bird Hall building following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake as well as suffering some severe seismic damage in the Steinhart Aquarium, it was decided that the buildings needed to be brought up to modern standards of construction and the main site was closed. In september of 2005 the USD $500 million reconstruction of the museum got under way. It opened in September of 2008. The building received a LEED platinum (I’ll write about LEED at a later date) certification once it was completed. So why did I bring this building up in an article about living buildings? The California Academy of Sciences located in San Francisco, California, breathes folks. Thats right, the building breathes.

The company ARUP, a globally advocated company providing a wide range of engineering and design services designed the building to redirect airflow from the roof into the openings at the top of the exterior walls in order to cool the large exhibition area. The building faces the pacific ocean so the ocean breeze provides an abundance of cool air to keep the building cool. It also uses 60 000 photovoltaic cells to power the building and uses solar power to provide hot water. The building has a 1 hectare (2.5 acres approximately) green roof which is covered in millions of plants native to California to reduce storm water run off. Salt water from the ocean is pumped directly into the building then purified and recycled. The building was revolutionary at its time even appearing on Discovery channel and National Geographic.

As awesome as having a living building sounds, there may be some downsides to it in the far future. Can anyone say HAL 9000?

By Alex Hicks



  1. […] Living Buildings. […]

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