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> 2007-10-11
More on Living Steel Competition

Providing housing solutions to growing cities around the globe, Living Steel’s architectural design initiatives are inspiring architects and delivering environmentally sustainable housing models. In stimulating economic and social sustainability, Living Steel champions another significant cause: environmental responsibility.

With United Nations figures estimating that 180,000 people relocate from rural settings to cities every day, and the global population predicted to reach eight billion people by 2020, the need for sustainable housing solutions is imperative.

Paramount to Living Steel’s environmental initiative is the use of steel, which benefits from a highly recyclable content, flexibility, durability and strength. Innovative steel design is lightweight and uses less material compared to other building solutions, such as brick or wood – thereby reducing energy consumption and optimising construction efficiency.

The pictures published here are in order Brazil, China, UK.

Recognised as the world’s most recyclable material, steel is an attractive option for housing because it can be reused after its lifespan. Great improvements to production and processing methods have been made over the years to reduce steel’s impact on the environment. According to the IISI, the steel industry has made immense efforts to limit environmental pollution in the last decades. Energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by one-half of what they were in the 1960s. Dust emissions have been reduced by even more.

A key component of the Living Steel programme has been its global sustainable architectural competitions. Presenting architects with a unique opportunity to share their visions for innovative and responsible housing design and construction and then bring them to life through demonstration constructions, the competition calls for designs to respond to some of the world’s most challenging climates.

Scott Chubbs, Living Steel’s programme director said, “There is an undisputed housing shortage for a population that is growing at the rate of a small city each day. The Living Steel International Architecture Competitions for Sustainable Housing present a challenge to the world’s architects to design effective, efficient, and environmentally friendly housing by using what we believe is the most effective material for meeting this critical need.”

Archiforge published the wining projects of the recently announced Steel International Architecture Competition 2007 for designs that respond to the housing needs and climates of Recife, Brazil, Wuhan City, China and a Thames Gateway location in the United Kingdom.

We present additional information on the wining projects:

“Essential Architecture” - Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados Ltda, Brazil
The winning design concept for Brazil entitled “Essential Architecture” exhibited environmental sustainability through its strategic use of shade and ventilation to significantly limit the use of central air conditioning.

Brazil’s tropical climate is best characterised by intense solar radiation, high rainfall index, high temperatures with little fluctuation, and high humidity. To address these climatic issues, this design concept elevates the building from the soil to increase ventilation at the base, and optimises cross ventilation at its open interiors. “Essential Architecture” also distributes isolated blocks in such a way as to allow the air to flow permanently between the buildings. The balconies and roof provide shade and protection against the rain, while the building’s shutters allow the user to control the air velocity inside the apartment, as well as to block the solar rays of the rising and setting sun.
Marcelo Morettin for Morettin Arquitetos Associados Ltda believes that increasing urbanisation in Brazil necessitates the creation of a new architectural “paradigm”, with “sustainability as its focal point”.
According to Mr Morettin steel could be implemented more effectively on the proposed building site in comparison to other materials, ensuring a more sustainable outcome. “The resistant properties and flexibility of the material can lead to architectural solutions of great lightness and strength,” he said.
“Living together” - Brasil Arquitetura, Brazil
The Brasil Arquitetura design concept for Brazil, entitled “Living together”, incorporates durable and low maintenance materials to resolve the adverse climatic aspects of Recife´s tropical environment with green features. Unit walls are protected against direct sunlight with electro-soldered bar-and-cable steel screens, which act as sun-screens. High openings on both sides of each unit assure constant cross ventilation—permitting environmental comfort without the necessity of air-conditioning.
Simultaneously, these steel screens offer support for the planting of creepers and hanging plants, which in turn can create microclimates and help with the cooling process through evaporation. These green features offer visual protection and give an identity to the building.

Furthermore, the hanging gardens together with large trees throughout the site provide shade for the building and parking lots against the powerful sun in Recife. The submission emphasised that native species would be planted in order to enhance and encourage the development of local habitat for native fauna. The landscaping, thus, could become an educational element of the development, as well as an essential factor for aspects of comfort.

“Agro-housing concept” – David Knafo, Israel
China’s winning design concept developed by David Knafo (Israel) and entitled “Agro-housing concept,” presents a new urban and social vision to combat disordered urbanisation by creating economic, social, and environmental sustainability in a housing project. The principle advantages of this winning design concept include: the creation of sustainable housing conditions; the reduction of the level of air and soil pollution; the improvement of the micro climate of the building; the reduction of the use of energy (cooling and heating); the use of water from the existing high water table and recycled grey water for gardening; and the creation of extra income and new jobs for the inhabitants in the building.

The “Agro-housing concept” allows tenants to produce their own healthy and organic food, thereby reducing the need to travel for food whilst providing a greener neighbourhood. A green house is equipped with a drip irrigation system, natural ventilation and heating system, and offers a diversity of spaces for the benefit of its inhabitants.

Featuring steel facades, this light steel structure will be prefabricated and installed on site. The project has great potential for the future development of sustainable communities in urban China.
Winning architects David Knafo and Tagit Klimor both believe that increasing urbanisation in China calls for new approaches toward urban life in general, and housing in particular, and that architects should play a leading role in suggesting these new forms of dwellings.
According to Mr Knafo, steel allows for freedom and flexibility in the design of structures and the presentation of new ideas and concepts. He believes that the sustainable properties of steel allow it to be utilised in housing models that are more closely related to nature, literally.
“Our firm is extremely excited to see the potential realisation of the Agro-Housing project. It is an extraordinary opportunity to develop an innovative idea that touches the basic existence of man, and has the capacity to become precedence for a new way of living,” said Klimor.
He added that the properties of steel and the ability to create pre-fabricated building solutions enable high quality building solutions with precise accuracy via a rapid construction process.
“This leads to a better economical performance and less environmental damage,” he said.
Prefabrication techniques will be employed in the construction of the design of the Agro-Housing project. Exterior panels, for example, will be prefabricated using a modular façade grid, reducing costs to the environment as well as the construction team.
The International Union of Architects-approved jury chaired by prominent architect Andrew Ogorzalek were wowed by the sophisticated vision for future residential development in urban China submitted by David Knafo Tagit Klimor, Architects and Town Planners.

Mr. Ogorzalek said the jury agreed the design represented a potential new model for dense urban living that was appropriate to the cultural and climatic conditions for urban environments in China. Jury member and renowned advocate for sustainable building, Glen Murcutt said the design presented a “gifting to the residents” of something beyond that for which the competition brief called for.

“Wuhan Blue Sky Prototype” – Anderson Anderson, USA
Similar to “Essential Architecture,” the “Wuhan Blue Sky Prototype” design reflects environmental care by reducing land use and optimising natural ventilation. The modular structural system is offset in both plan and section in order to shade the dwelling and community spaces from the hot summer sun, while fully welcoming the low winter sun. The building provides maximum daylight and air flow to each unit, and all primary community spaces, stairways and balconies remain an open-aired network. All rooftops make the most of energy production for community and private garden spaces, and all roofs collect and filter rainwater for use as non-potable household water.

This design concept also emphasises integration with the local neighbourhood. The Blue Sky Prototype itself is planned as an open-air network of pedestrian streets and public gardens at ground level winding up to vertical floor plates.

Unamed - Cartwright Pickard Architects, UK
The winning design for the UK by Cartwright Pickard Architects promotes renewable energy, while providing comfort for its dwellers. For example, a pair of biomass boilers fired by wood pellets provide the lion’s share of heating, while hot water is delivered to the apartments through eternal pre-insulated pipes. A domestic hot water tank in each apartment is also used so that solar hot water collector arrays can be used to offset the energy consumption associated with traditional water heating. To decrease water usage, rain water is collected and used for non-potable uses such as WC flushing and the irrigation of soft landscaping.

Additionally, the winning UK design capitalises its heating and cooling mechanisms by incorporating a green roof covered in vegetation, which would be naturally irrigated by rainfall. The roof serves to give added thermal mass to the area of the building that has the highest solar exposure.

Further to this, the Cartwright Pickard design utilises a flexible kit of standardised parts that can be arranged in unique formations through prefabrication. The firm’s design proposes volumetric steel modules constructed from a fully welded hot and cold rolled steel frame that will be used for the
sub-structure of the dwellings. The pre-fabricated modules are factory built and fully fitted out prior to delivery to site.

“A kit of parts is made - like cars are made from standardised components, but you can create an incredibly broad variety and choice. The components themselves can be manufactured in a very efficient way and using factory production techniques you can bring the cost down and the quality up,” Mr. Pickard said.

The International Union of Architects-approved jury chaired by prominent architect Andrew Ogorzalek unanimously selected Cartwright Pickard’s concept as the best model for future residential development in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ogorzalek said the jury looked forward to a collaborative development process among the architect, developer and steel fabricators, with this design being “the vehicle to both meet the needs of the UK market and advance the proposed modular strategy.”

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