1. How Designers can respond post pandemic?
2. Use of sustainable and natural materials
3. Use of Ai technology The current pandemic has questioned our existing norms and conventions. It has caused us to re-evaluate our role as designers. I think there couldn’t be a better time than now to make us realize the importance and necessity of Sustainable Living. So how can we, as designers, act in response to its increasing need? Multi-functional spaces and adaptive reuse of single space has apparently become a new normal. It clearly represents the cycle of sustainability – recycle, reuse and reduce. And since 90% of our time is spent indoors and the buildings are responsible for 40% of our carbon emission worldwide, they can become more energy efficient by adopting smart building materials like low emissivity glass, translucent concrete, anti-bacterial fabrics & finishes among others. Opting for natural cooling & heating techniques shows a major impact on the carbon emission too. For instance, using a mix of steel and clay roof tiles reduces the heat inside a built up space, which eventually reduces the need for artificial cooling. Also let’s just vow to never forget the vast benefits of incorporating solar energy and rainwater harvesting in our designs! Solar energy being inherently more sustainable than fossil fuel energy sources can be used by installing solar panels in our buildings.
Fun fact: Did you know, a Harvard Business Review report suggests that working in a sustainably designed building shoots up productivity to up to 40%? Coming back to our role as designers, let us not forget the Vocal for Local mantra. Vernacular building techniques are naturally low in carbon footprint and are economically feasible. For instance, using the contextual materials like clay, terracotta & reclaimed wood for a home in Kerala is a more sustainable option and it also supports the local economy. Use of sustainable and natural materials like cork, bamboo and recycled timber should also be looked out for. Fabrics like linen and hemp are extremely durable and are produced without the use of pesticides and chemicals. Opt for Zero VOC paints which are non-toxic and do not impact the health of the users. Brands like Nerolac, Asian Paints have their own range of eco-friendly paints. Did I almost forget to mention the huge role, AI based technology can play towards sustainability? Parametric design tools which are based on mathematic algorithms, help to reduce the time and cost of the construction significantly. Environmental and structural plugins integrated with AutoCAD/Revit can help in material optimization, constraints introspection, calculating the percentage& size of openings, designing shading devices and optimizing structural components, thereby reducing the production time and project cost . Al Bahar Towers and Arab World Institute, Paris are two famous structures that used this technology.
By incorporating these techniques, we can thrive towards a more sustainable environment post the pandemic. The climate crisis can no longer be dismissed. We must realize that sustainable design is not a choice anymore, it’s a necessity. Covid 19 is a wakeup call. Will we listen?
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