Achieving Sustainability with resilience, variety and adaptability
Thankfully it is becoming more common for investors and end users to look for principals in sustainable design and construction in residential projects. However, often, after the initial evaluation of the requirements need to achieve certain goals, it can appear that sustainability might be hard to afford.
This is where architects can help to find a balance between the financial capabilities and the wishes of the client by developing a way to achieve a sustainable and resilient built environment that will maximize value at the same time.
The most basic way to make a building more resilient is the moderate use of natural materials with established efficiency. For example, a stone base to the building allows for robust weathering over time, quality plaster on the facades and wood that is not directly exposed to the elements but placed in such a way as to minimize degradation such as placement under the eaves of the roof. Stable window systems and good insulation are now essential for any project that is designed today. As a way to display these methods, this article is going to use two of SGI’s projects located at the foot of eastern Vitosha.
Contrary to projects where the architect is working with the end user, the majority of the residential projects are built for a hypothetical client. This is why instead of looking for a design statement of the WOW effect, the architect can pay more attention to the principles of design such as mathematical proportion and the detailing and use of natural materials, which can embed carbon and have a net positive effect on the environment, without adding to the price of the final product.
This can be portrayed with the example of one of SGI’s projects where a residential complex with a complete construction plan which had been partially realized with 13 of the houses completed and 7 with development started.
Instead of carrying on with the plan, SGI’s team took a deeper look at the specifics of each property. The final product offered a big variety of single-family houses, twin houses and apartments, as well as green public areas, a separate parcel for parking and car charging stations.
It is a common notion that large scale buildings usually come at a cost. In this case, the team decided to group the houses two by two, resulting in more building space while at the same time providing larger gardens for the houses.
Considering the rapidly changing economic situation in the recent years, adaptability has become another matter for property development. With the abrupt shifts and demand and volatility in materials prices becoming a common occurrence in the past few years, this has lead to changing of the needs of the investment mid project.
The houses from this project have been designed to have a concrete base and for the two residential floors above to be executed with different materials in accordance with the wishes and capabilities of the buyer, while still keeping its functionality and aesthetics in check.
The next step that this project has taken in the direction of adaptability is allowing the buyer to choose from varying architectural styles for the houses, thus providing opportunities for sustainable and effective realization.
Last, but not least, another way to achieve sustainability is to find inspiration from traditional design, where the design has evolved naturally to be more resilient. A great example for that are the houses from Bulgaria’s Revival period whose form and function are a direct response to the seasonal environment. The methods used in order to achieve sustainability and adaptability don’t always have to be invented from scratch by the architect using innovative technologies. Sometimes it is enough to take a look at the basic principles and to use them in a way that can provide resilience not only in terms of the building, but also in terms of the market.
Authors: Nikola Georgiev, Zhana Georgieva