Exhibit reconnects man's
By Ken Fountain
Senior Staff Writer
In the 21st century, architects around
the globe will increasingly turn away from the Modernist style of the last
century and adopt principles from aboriginal cultures, such as Native Americans,
in designing buildings that are in harmony with their surroundings and
promote ecological sustainability.
So says Robert Morris, architect and lecturer
at UH's Gerald D. Hines School of Architecture, when he explains Ten
Shades of Green, a travelling exhibit showcasing environmentally responsible
buildings. The exhibit on display in the college's first-floor exhibition
space through April 20.
The "Ten Shades" refers to 10 principles
the exhibit's organizer, the Architectural League of New York, chose as
the criteria for a "fully green" approach to design. Among those criteria
are: low energy usage with high performance; using replenishable energy
sources; "embodied" energy in the building's design; buildings designed
for long life spans of 50 years or more; "loose fit" buildings that are
able to adapt to different uses than originally intended; the health and
happiness of the building's occupants; and how the building fits within
its immediate surroundings and community.
According to Morris, the 10 shades are
really overlapping extensions of three key principles of environmental
awareness: reduce (consumption of resources), reuse and recycle.
Ten Shades of Green,
an exhibit showcasing environmentally responsible buildings, is on display
at the College of Architecture Building through April 20.
The Daily Cougar
The exhibit features models of nine large-scale
buildings in Europe and Australia, and photographic images of four North
American houses, which embody the 10 principles to varying degrees. Several
computer terminals provide an interactive look at the buildings' designs.
According to Morris, it's no accident that
most of the designs are European. While the ideas behind sustainable design
evolved out of the American counterculture of the 1960s and '70s and were
given governmental backing by the Carter administration, they were virtually
scrapped when Ronald Reagan became president in 1981.
However, in Europe, which has a higher
population density as well as older cities which place more constrictions
on designers, those principles caught on and, promoted by the governments
According to Morris, the building which
most epitomizes the 10 criteria is one on the Jubilee Campus of the University
of Nottingham in northern England, by the London architectural firm of
Michael Hopkins & Partners. The building makes use of a large, open
stairway at one end and a sloped ceiling to aid in ventilation, reducing
the need for a large, mechanical air-conditioning system. It also uses
a great deal of natural lighting, reducing electrical costs.
The architectural styles of the 20th century
tended to emphasize form over function, using large machines to make buildings
conform to the latest trends. In the coming decades, the buildings will
be designed to act as machines themselves.
"The greatest benefit will be remaking
the connection between man and nature. That connection is innate in us,
but since the Machine Age, we've somehow lost the connection. We're now
beginning to close that loop, and we're going to end up with an ethic not
unlike that of the Native Americans, but using more modern technologies
and materials," Morris said.