What is green what is not green

I just want react to Inhabitat's tweet on these five greenwashing towers. I admit to have been very astonished to discover these 5 buildings, especially the Antilla Green Tower, a housing project proposed by Perkins & Will in collaboration with Hirsch Bedner Associates for a Indian client, based in Mumbai, Mukesh Ambani. This client is announced to be the fifth richest man in the world. He wanted a green home for his family. Great idea. But things now are going to get nasty, if I may say. The architecture firm, indeed, has proposed a 27-storey tower for the family, say, only one family — husband, wife and children, maybe grandparents — who will live in this huge tower. I myself give my opinion both on Twitter and Facebook. I do not mind that a rich family needs have her own home.

Perkins + Will's Antilla Green Tower, © image from Inhabitat website

The problem is the relation between sustainable and this project. Collective housing is now well-appreciated if not approved, for it is more eco-friendly, more respectful to environment; it is also a tool for managing density. In fact, collective housing does not waste land in comparison with detached-housing (by comparison, a 27-storey collective housing, with more than approx. 50 households, corresponds to approx. 50 detached-houses, that is, an economy of approx. 50 lots. I have already read such argument, which is not false, but people need alternative type of housing as well. This is the debate in Japan, and more recently in Paris. By the way, an interesting conference on this topic is announced for October in the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine (I will confirm the date as soon as I will have more information). back to the theme of this article, last year Bordeaux-based Arc en Rêve Centre for Architecture proposed a very fascinating exhibition that addressed collective housing in Europe, but, one may have understood, that beside Europe, collective housing is now considered as the 21st century dwelling — I am sceptical concerning this viewpoint.

This debate launched by Inhabitat demonstrates that sustainable which is now well-accepted, if not approved, turns into fashionable, if not marketing. This is the risk that you must take if you want to protect the planet. But it can fatigue those who are sceptical (just take bio food which is now in the heart of French debate. For many people, bio food is just marketing, while…).

This is maybe, if I want to take only one example, the recent project I'm lost in Paris, realized by French architecture firm R&Sie(n) and its charismatic leader and founder, architect François Roche, which is the most positive and interesting example of eco-friendly, recently. I won't say more because I'm still waiting for my Icon #75 copy (I hope it is now available in my bookstores, that of Centre Pompidou and that of Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine! I'm getting impatient to read it!!!) with an interview of François Roche.

R&Sie(n) I'm Lost in Paris, © Images from R&Sie(n) website

This digression apart, just the reading François Roche presentation of the house, as follows:

"It s the story of an urban witch living behind a rear windows designed as a duck cabana. As alchemist, she feeds the plant with drop by drop hydroponics system watering liquid substances coming from the bacterian chemical preparation in 200 beakers disseminated in the ferns surfaces. The neighborhood is both attracted by the green aspect and repulsed by the brewage and the process to produce it."

… gives an outline of the project. "I'm lost in Paris" house is an example of typical 21st century-eco-friendly-reactive-house, project that emanates from R&Sie(n)'s fascinating research on reactive, unfinished, interaction of resident and city (or habitat, or environment). I am impatient to buy my copy to tell more on this project.

Whatever, you will see more and more project, in terms of architecture, and urban design, that will be considered as eco-friendly. Recently, Seoul announced its first ecoville (or ecopolis), or U-City "ubiquitous computing" New Sangdo City, an artifcial island/city that deals with New technologies (computing) and sustainability. Tokyo has just announced a shift into zero-carbon-city up to 2016, etc. Yet many observers do not believe that these city will be specifically eco-friendly, for you cannot deal with these issues as a whole.

None the less, these initiatives, whatever one may think it is fascinating or, in contrary, a delusion, or just a manner to do marketing with sustainability, illustrate efforts for shifting from issues such as sprawl, land waste, etc., into a more respectful attitude to our habitat, i.e., our planet.


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