Man, nature, and technology

From: Kaitlin Soriano ’15
Published: December 4, 2011

Sunflower umbrellas

Sustainability and “going green” have established themselves as the new fads of the 21st century. Local communities, college campuses, international corporations, and many others, are making attempts to grasp the concept of being sustainable. Sustainability is an economic, social, and ecological notion. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that members of society are able to meet their needs while also preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems. Planning for the future to maintain these ideals is essential to our present outlook on sustainability. LAVA, or the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, is an emerging multinational practice that claims to reposition architecture at the forefront of cultural, sustainable, technological, and social innovation. Located in New South Wales, Australia, LAVA is planning for our future with an aim of achieving more with less: more architecture with less materials, energy, time, and cost. The inspiration for LAVA’s efforts comes from man, nature, and technology. LAVA is beginning to redefine the way people live through innovative solutions, sustainability, and carbon neutrality. Three recent projects conducted by LAVA highlight the company’s commitment to their motto of “more with less”: Masdar city centre, UAE; Tower Skin, Australia; and Future Hotel, Germany.

A ‘micro climate’ generates energy with photovoltaic cells, collects rainwater, redistributes daylight, and uses available convective energy to power ventilation and is an intelligent media surface- a new hybrid typology. LAVA’s Future Hotel Showcase 2009 demonstrated that responsive architecture and lower energy lighting/ heating are the way of the future. Anti-jet lag lights, a swaying ‘energy’ bed, smart floors with lighting sensors, are some of the many amenities for guests of the future.

LAVA’s competition-winning design for the city centre of Masdar, UAE incorporates giant ‘sunflower’ umbrellas that adapt to provide continuous shade, to store heat, and to close and release the heat at night. This first zero carbon, zero waste city is powered entirely by renewable energy sources and is due to be completed by 2016. The umbrellas open opportunities for outside living, even in the desert. Masdar Plaza building façade angles offset glare; wall surfaces respond to changing temperatures; passerby triggers water features and lighting, and roof gardens integrate food production, energy generation, water efficiency and the reuse of organic food waste.

LAVA’s projects prove that people are concerned and steps are being taken to achieve a more sustainable future. Masdar, UAE is the first city to produce zero carbon and zero waste. What city will be next to make its mark on our future generations? It could be yours.