Nikken Sekkei unveils future of sustainability

Published October 28th, 2009 - 07:59 GMT

Entries for the third annual Environmental Architectural Design competition from Nikken Sekkei have been unveiled in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This year’s competition - held under the theme “2020: What is environmental architecture to you?” - involved a record 39 finalists whittled down from a field of 173 designers who work for the Japanese firm’s group companies. On display were three ground-breaking themes, Tokyo Jungle 2020, Time, Space and Environment, and The Plant Factory.

Tokyo Jungle 2020, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, features large atrium-like spaces at the top of buildings which trap heat while simultaneously providing a tower for natural ventilation.

All waste heat emitted from natural ventilation or equipment is collected in the upper areas of the building, making air temperatures akin to a virtual jungle which can absorb part of the carbon dioxide. The issue is particularly pertinent in Tokyo and other major cities, since high-rise buildings in the central districts generate large amounts of heat.

Time, Space, Environment takes an integrated approach, choosing not to apply specific rules to interior design but rather combine multiple elements in layers.
It proposes a global model for architecture, serving as the main application for environment monitoring centres.
The Plant Factory, tackling self-sufficiency in food supply, proposes a system for controlled production of vegetation in closed- or semi-closed spaces – effectively a man-made greenhouse.

One proposal concerns an Artificial Light Factory providing year-round planned production of plants that does not use sunlight, and the other, Sunlight Factory, concentrates on year-round production of plants involving sunlight and supported by technology.

The Artificial Light Factory entails high initial and running costs, which would limit the types of crops grown, while the Sunlight Factory, being highly dependent on ambient sunlight, would have lower productivity, making year-round production challenging.

In-house and external judges, including university professors, will select an overall best entry and pick two awards for excellence, and six runners-up.
Dr Fadi Jabri, General Manager for Nikken Sekkei, said the objective is to make the competition an integral part of the group’s environmental efforts.  “We hope that the competition encourages our designers to think about architectural design with the environment and to acknowledge the excitement and potential in elevating environmental elements into architectural culture,” he added.

“Designs can dramatically reduce carbon emissions, up to 60% in some cases are only through constantly pushing the barriers of design excellence- sustaining our market-leading position.”

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