Cities in Asia are growing rapidly and facing many issues in the field of sustainability. Many cities are embracing the principles of smart cities to deal with these issues. This puts demand on the infrastructure and the environment and has created the need for smart city planning and eco-friendly buildings. There’s a need in acknowledging expansion and improving urban infrastructure and building design. Prof. Thomas Schroepfer investigates the increasingly complex relevancy between design and technology in architecture. His design and research relates to the develop the building structure and form environmental strategies, performance and energy efficiency, and innovative building types for sustainable urban architecture.
Prof. Thomas Schroepfer, Associate Professor and Associate Head of Pillar Architecture and Sustainable Design, Singapore University of Technology and Design, shares his thoughts exclusively with AsiaGreenBuildings on his definition of the relevancy between Architecture and Smart City, the green buildings innovative practices , the future sustainable architecture trends and the challenges to tackle green construction in Asia.
What defines a “smart city” and how can architecture stay relevant in this context?
Technology plays a key role in the building of a smart city. Digital technologies and information and communication technologies allow us to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with citizens.
Technology also plays a key role in the way we design cities and buildings as there are
many technology-based advances that help us to improve building structure and form, environmental strategies, building performance and energy, computer simulation and modelling, digital fabrication, and building processes (e.g. Building Information Modelling or “BIM”)
What innovative practices, in terms of green buildings, have been proven to be performing well in a dense environment like many cities in Asia?
The term ’dense and green buildings’ are innovative architectural typologies that emerge from the integration of green components, such as sky terraces, green facades, and vertical parks in high-density buildings.
They allow for denser urban environments while maintaining Singapore’s vision of being a “City in a Garden”. They also offer many environmental, architectural, economic, social and aesthetic benefits (the integration of green spaces into buildings can provide environmental filters to cut out glare and dust, reduce heat gains, improve air quality and dampen traffic noise as well as to provide visual reliefs and psychological comfort to create vertical landscapes that not only enhance urban biodiversity but also promote identity and delight in high density urban contexts).
What would be the future trends of sustainable architecture in Asia in the next 5-10 years?
All current trends indicate that future high-density developments in Singapore and beyond will have to accommodate not just a larger but also increasingly diverse and demanding population in terms of age, demographics and requirements.
High-quality work-live-make-and-play environments will require not only denser developments, but also more diversified and complex approaches to architecture, urban design and urban planning in the future Traditional approaches may no longer be able to serve and balance our growing concerns for diversity as well as environmental quality and ecology in cities.
Many developments in Singapore now state selling points such as “near a park”, “rooftop greenery”, or “vertical greenery”. The quantifiable benefit of such features is land value appreciation.
What are Asia’s biggest challenges which need to be urgently tackled with regards to green construction?
In my opinion, green construction, architecture and urban design need to address the following pressing issues:
(1) Social Value – How can green construction, architecture and urban design provide equitable access to, as well as diversity of local amenities public spaces? What are the future spatial frameworks that offer live, work, make and play spaces for all age and income groups, and generate visual relief and psychological comfort that can promote identity and delight in high-density urban contexts?
(2) Adaptability to Growth and Change – How can green construction, architecture and urban design contribute to our cities ability to grow in density and intensity or change of use over time with least cost or friction?
(3) Mobility – How can sustainable urban mobility become an integral part of green construction, architecture and urban design?
(4) Economic Benefits – How can we better quantify the benefits of green construction, architecture and urban design?
(5) Environmental Comfort – How can green construction, architecture and urban design improve thermal performance, reduce heat gain and urban heat island effects, improve air quality and health, mitigate noise pollution, provide filters to cut out glare and dust and enhance urban biodiversity and walkability?
This exclusive interview is facilitated under a Media Partnership with the Green Urban Scape Asia 2015, at which Prof. Thomas Schroepfer is one of the speaker.
About Singapore University of Technology and Design
The Singapore University of Technology and Design is established in collaboration with MIT to advance knowledge and nurture technically grounded leaders and innovators to serve societal needs. This will be accomplished, with a focus on Design, through an integrated multi-disciplinary curriculum and multi-disciplinary research.
The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) aims to become the centre and stronghold of global research and breakthroughs through creative technical research and education anchored in design within a multi-disciplinary approach. We call this focus on design the Big ‘D’, where we do not just produce graduates well-versed in technical functionality, but a new breed of the brightest technical minds that understands form to design the new innovations of tomorrow. We will inspire all that goes through our doors in the art and science of design to ensure that architectural, systems and engineering inventions of tomorrow are both a technical breakthrough and a resonating lifestyle appeal.
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