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What’s up with Sustainable and Inclusive Architecture?

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Sustainable and Inclusive Architecture

 

Architecture is a reflection of society, so naturally architectural and social trends evolve together. Two major concerns for the world right now consist of sustainability and inclusivity. We want to save the planet and we want to join together as human beings, especially in the light of the pandemic.

 

Sustainable architecture and inclusive architecture will have a significant impact on not only the building industry but on the world as these two trends develop.

 

 

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Sustainable architecture 

 

Global warming and sustainability are now at the centre of societal challenges. All industries are affected and are making a sustainable transition relatively quickly. These concerns are also at the heart of contemporary architecture because sustainability is a top priority. 

 

European directives require that all housing built in Europe after 2020 should have an energy consumption close to zero. All new housing will now be low consumption housing.

 

Construction techniques have evolved to take a more in-depth account of environmental protection. A building project is considered from a sustainable and thermodynamic point of view to reduce energy consumption during the construction phase and afterward in its daily use. 

 

New buildings will be equipped with water-saving systems, energy-saving appliances and optimised insulation. Light, external heat, and wind will be used to generate energy and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings.  

 

Recycling, upcycling and reusing 

 

Many people in architecture are concerned about the environment and their goal is to reduce damage to the earth by focusing on sustainable practices. Construction and demolition are responsible for at least one-third of the solid waste produced by developed countries. 

 

Until recently, the construction process consisted of production, construction, use, disposal, and demolition. This energy-intensive process consumed a vast amount of natural resources and generated a huge amount of waste. 

 

Today, circular energy based on a C2C model has made architects consider the possibility of reusing everything, or almost everything, that was considered waste on a building site to reduce the number of natural resources used. 

 

Manufacturers are now offering building materials made from recycled materials such as tyres and glass for finishing, cladding, plastering, etc. Insulation panels made from shredded cork or cellulose wadding obtained from newspapers and paper waste from industrial plants have proven very effective. 

 

Straw or bricks are used in modern construction because they generate less waste. They can be recycled and reused. Less resource-intensive building sites result in houses with reduced energy consumption. 

 

Carrying out a construction project with natural materials generates less waste because these materials can be recycled and reused. The result is construction sites and houses that consume less energy and fewer natural resources.

 

Renovation replaces demolition 

 

Old or abandoned buildings are now being transformed and rehabilitated to give them new life. They often become housing in the rehabilitation industry. 

 

In general, renovating existing property is cheaper than buying a new property. 

 

While demolition has often been prioritised over preservation or transformation in the past, attitudes have changed. In this context, architects face a double challenge: (1) respecting the tradition and identity of the building during its renovation and (2) adding value and adapting it to today's needs.

 

Tradition and local know-how

 

Construction techniques are increasingly inspired by local know-how and make use of local resources in the region where the building is located. The economic crisis, the reaction to globalisation and the ecological importance of "consuming locally" explain this evolution.  

 

Inclusive architecture

 

This approach deals with a societal aspect of architecture. Inclusive architecture adapts to the needs of the elderly, people with reduced mobility, people with disabilities, children, etc. Inclusive architecture accommodates all people, no matter their ethnicity, age, gender, or situation. 

 

Inclusive architecture goes beyond accessibility and the removal of physical barriers. It designs environments adapted to the needs and limitations of individuals.

 

It is therefore a question of combining different elements in one space according to the specificities and diversity of its inhabitants, whether senior citizens, people with disabilities, able-bodied adults, or children. Inclusive architecture is also about creating living spaces that encourage interaction between demographics.

 

A focus on quality

 

Modern architecture is based more on the quality of space rather than surface area. Residential architecture must now offer smaller housing solutions adapted to smaller budgets.

 

Architecture studies and engages with space and makes areas (rooms, common spaces, hallways, etc.) flexible and adaptable to the lifestyle of the younger generation. It is based on the notions of multifunctionality, versatility and modularity.

 

Comfort and functionality are primary concerns for new generation architects. 

 

Public spaces

 

If the city of the 20th century prioritised vehicles, the 21st century marks a turning point in which public places are no longer about drivers but about pedestrians and cyclists.

 

Advances in infrastructure and transportation systems influenced by cultural, social and technological developments are providing new responses in the way public space is conceived.

 

Common spaces and services to encourage communication and social connection are beginning to appear in new buildings. Urban spaces are becoming places of coexistence and leisure.

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