Impressed by nature: the key behind Atelier Ten’s clever inexperienced buildings | Information | Eco-Enterprise

December 12, 2022 by No Comments

Being impressed by termites’ nests, utilizing pc modelling of climate patterns and making intelligent use of vegetation for cooling — these are a few of the futuristic methods employed by environmental design consultancy Atelier Ten in its conceptualisation of recent buildings.

Since 1990, the London-based firm has been crafting high-performance inexperienced buildings and different developments internationally. It has labored on Jewel Changi Airport and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, the Obama Presidential Centre in Chicago, the Nationwide Theatre and Google’s headquarters in London, and Melbourne’s Federation Sq., amongst many others.

In 2020, it was acquired by the Singapore-based Surbana Jurong Group, a worldwide consultancy that focuses on infrastructure and concrete improvement.

Atelier Ten’s founding director Patrick Bellew says that developing lower-carbon buildings is of paramount concern throughout our world local weather emergency. This contains decreasing embodied carbon, which refers back to the carbon emissions linked to a improvement’s supplies and development processes. Such emissions usually make up about 30 per cent of a constructing’s complete emissions.

Patrick Bellew

Patrick Bellew, founding father of environmental design company, Atelier Ten. Picture: Atelier Ten

In creating environment friendly buildings, Bellew says that one necessary supply of inspiration is nature.

He says: “Animals are usually environment friendly and resourceful when developing their properties, nests, lairs, hills and so forth. They use regionally sourced supplies, and easy types and patterns for effectivity, rigidity and stiffness of their constructions. In a world the place we try to cut back embodied carbon, we’ve a lot to study from them.”

Atelier Ten makes use of biomimicry in a lot of its constructing designs, with termites’ nest being a mannequin. Its designers have used labyrinths and earth ducts to chill buildings, much like the subterranean cellars termites construct to maintain their nests at 32 levels Celsius. That is the optimum temperature for his or her queen, which by no means leaves the nest.  

The constructing sector must urgently decarbonise to mitigate the consequences of local weather change. Globally, it accounts for over 34 per cent of vitality demand and about 37 per cent of vitality and process-related carbon dioxide emissions, the United Nations (UN) stated in its newest standing report in November 2022.

Even with investments to save lots of vitality throughout development and buildings’ operations, the sector’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions hit new highs in 2021, leaving it off monitor to decarbonise by 2050. 

The UN famous that the rise in buildings’ gross flooring space is outpacing vitality effectivity positive aspects, with about 24,000 sq. kilometres of flooring space added between 2015 and 2021, equal to the whole land space coated by buildings in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

On this interview, Bellew, who can be one of many United Kingdom’s Royal Designers (its highest accolade given to designers), shares insights on how the sector can enhance its sustainability.

You lately stated that design consultants should prioritise environmental design, even over what the consumer instantly requires. Are you able to clarify why that is essential?

The truth of the worldwide local weather disaster is that all of us have to prioritise environmental points, together with designing decrease carbon buildings, forward of the whole lot else. Our purchasers appoint us for our experience and up-to-the-minute and even futuristic pondering. We must always attempt to assume past their fast necessities, think about how these necessities might be become alternatives, and present them the probabilities.

How does Atelier Ten strategy environmental design?

Once we begin a mission, the very first thing we do is get hold of the native local weather knowledge. This knowledge types the basic constructing block of our design strategy, as a result of several types of local weather can demand very several types of environmental options.

In Singapore, which has a scorching and humid tropical local weather, for instance, you by no means want photo voltaic achieve, except you’re designing a constructing for vegetation, so one apparent precedence is to maintain the solar off the glazing through the use of no matter shading you may deploy. When designing in Iceland, however, you want each little bit of photo voltaic achieve that you could get.

Esplanade exterior

For the Esplanade arts centre in Singapore, Atelier Ten designed the enduring durian-like roof, which is the fin defend system that protects and cools the areas beneath the constructing’s massive, glass roof. Picture: Jordan Tan/Shutterstock

Our design course of additionally includes in depth analysis to search out probably the most sustainable pathways for the whole lot from supplies choice to vitality programs, and harnessing knowledge evaluation to make and again up our choices. Take native climates, that are dynamic. It is advisable to use pc modelling to totally perceive the potential environmental affect of your proposed constructing.

What are a few of your methods for low-carbon cooling, significantly in tropical cities reminiscent of Singapore?

In locations the place there’s a massive every day temperature vary, we attempt to exploit one thing known as thermal mass, which is the flexibility of supplies to carry vitality for a time period. This normally takes the type of an association the place concrete or another large materials is cooled in a single day, in order that the cooling might be liberated the next day to minimise the necessity for air-conditioning, thereby decreasing carbon emissions.

In tropical cities, discovering methods to offer shade and air motion is vital. Ideally, the shade ought to come from one thing inexperienced, reminiscent of timber or trailing vegetation, in order that the vitality from the solar is generally transformed into chemical processes or photosynthesis, decreasing the warmth island impact.

Gardens by the Bay interior

In Gardens by the Bay, the conservatories and gardens are designed to be symbiotic by the interplay of vitality and water processes. Waste timber collected from the pruning of Singapore’s avenue timber feeds a biomass CHP (mixed warmth and energy) plant within the central vitality centre that powers, cools and heats the biomes which is then fed into chillers which provide chilled water to the biomes. Picture: Atelier Ten/Craig Sheppard. 

On the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, we additionally used liquid desiccants (chemical substances which dry air) to take away the moisture from the air feeding into the Cloud Forest conservatory. This dramatically diminished the vitality wanted to air-condition the house. This system may be very efficient in areas requiring air-conditioning, particularly the place there’s a dependable supply of warmth for desiccant regeneration.

Extra cities have outlined or launched plans to deal with embodied carbon. Why is that this very important to reaching sustainability? How does Atelier Ten minimise embodied carbon in its designs?

Embodied carbon is the emissions linked to a improvement’s supplies and development processes all through its lifecycle. This carbon is normally thought of a ‘distant’ affect, since it’s emitted when the supplies are extracted and processed, not when they’re put into the constructing.

As an business, we’ve an extended historical past of assessing and managing emissions that come from working buildings. We’ve a poor monitor document of understanding the embodied carbon that goes into development. Given the pressing want to cut back the sector’s emissions, chopping the quantity of carbon emitted in development ought to be a significant precedence.


With the biggest indoor waterfall and one of many world’s largest conditioned gardens, Jewel Changi Airport was designed by Atelier Ten and Safdie Architects. Picture: Atelier Ten

We minimise our initiatives’ embodied carbon by making design choices primarily based on the place the carbon is emitted in constructing development. This includes limiting basement depths, optimising column spacing for environment friendly load paths within the constructions, minimising cantilevers and selecting supplies and suppliers with low carbon manufacturing and manufacturing processes.

Nature-based options are an indicator of your work. What can designers study from nature, and the way can they apply it of their work?

Animals are usually environment friendly and resourceful when developing their properties, nests, lairs, hills and so forth. They use regionally sourced supplies, and easy types and patterns for effectivity, rigidity and stiffness of their constructions. In a world the place we try to cut back embodied carbon, we’ve a lot to study from them.

Some animals are additionally ingenious within the environmental management of their nests. For a few years at Atelier Ten, we’ve drawn inspiration from termites’ nests. Their large nests are formed to realize one easy goal: to maintain the queen, who resides completely within the centre of the construction, at exactly 32 levels Celsius whatever the situations outdoors.

Animals are usually environment friendly and resourceful when developing their properties, nests, lairs, hills and so forth. They use regionally sourced supplies, and easy types and patterns for effectivity, rigidity and stiffness of their constructions. In a world the place we try to cut back embodied carbon, we’ve a lot to study from them.

Patrick Bellew, founding director of Atelier Ten 

They obtain this by drawing air by a comparatively massive subterranean ‘cellar’ that exploits the every day temperature vary to control the temperature between night time and day. These have been the inspiration for the labyrinths and earth ducts that we’re identified for integrating into our initiatives, to seize night time cooling for temperature discount through the day.

Atelier Ten has been delivering inexperienced buildings and different developments for over 30 years. How has environmental design modified on this time? The place do you see it going?

Over the previous decade, inexperienced developments have change into the brand new regular for our purchasers and collaborators, and design groups have change into extra tuned into low-carbon targets. The design course of has additionally change into extra data- and analysis-driven.

We are actually utilizing highly effective evaluation instruments to resolve advanced, multi-dimensional issues, and synthetic intelligence and machine studying are more likely to make these much more helpful sooner or later, enabling us to make extra knowledgeable choices and produce higher designs.

That being stated, we nonetheless have to study extra about how our buildings work, and methods to have occupants interact with the constructing and its programs to minimise vitality consumption.

Lastly, the elephant within the room: holding and adaptively reusing and refurbishing current buildings is commonly the bottom embodied carbon pathway. As an business, we are likely to see new buildings as representing progress. We should radically rethink this presumption.

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