Commentary

Jan-Feb 2017

The Alchemy of (Sustainable) Design

by Dr Nirmal Kishnani


Dr Nirmal Kishnani examines the challenge of teaching sustainability in the classroom, summarising the pedagogy of the urban studio of the Master of Science, Integrated Sustainable Design programme at the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore. This is described as a set of aspirations and a framework for a studio assignment. The ambition of the studio was to trigger critical thinking in students—who struggle to translate environmental goals into spatial/planning outcomes—and to inject existing methods of urban design with new domain knowledge.

There is growing consensus that sustainability, as an imperative, compels us to rethink what we design. How this affects process and approach—how we design—remains unclear. This is true in education as it is in practice.

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Previously Published Commentary (Abstracts)
Sep-Oct 2016
 
Whether opting to go local, natural or modular, material selection can be less about materialism and more about the planet and the people who inhabit it. 
   
     
Jul-Aug 2016
 
While many aspects of Singapore’s development have been described internationally in glowing terms, the island’s public spaces have often faced a cooler response. 
   
     
Mar-Apr 2016
 
To meet the needs of a rapidly growing urban population, a number of new infrastructure projects will need to be delivered around the world, particularly in developing countries where these trends are at their most extreme. 
   
     
Mar-Apr 2016
 
The need for smarter cities is especially pressing in Asia, which is home to over half of the world’s urban population, and together with Africa, will account for 90 percent of the world’s urban population growth by 2050, according to United Nations’ figures. 
   
     
Nov-Dec 2015
 
The Third International Tatlin’s Tower was designed in 1919 by Russian architect Vladimir Tatlin—a tremendous structure that was meant to serve as a political propaganda hub for the city, state and the world beyond. 
   

Sep-Oct 2015
 
Singapore is not often thought of as a competitive market for solar panels. Its thicket of high-rise office and apartment buildings means only a small patch of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can be set atop each one to generate electricity—that may be a financially inefficient proposition for an individual building owner.
   

Sep-Oct 2015
RETHINKING COMFORT: A PATHWAY TO LOW-ENERGY BUILDINGS by Wolfgang Kessling, Martin Engelhardt and Ina Maia
 
Buildings today require massive energy inputs. The way we define comfort plays a significant role in this, specifically the design of systems needed to cool indoor spaces. But is this necessary? Is the narrow bandwidth of conditions that air-conditioners deliver the only way to achieve thermal comfort?
   

May-Jun 2015
PRACTISING REGENERATIVE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT by Dominique Hes and Chrisna du Plessis
 
Whereas Green design aims to reduce environmental impact, and sustainable design aims to achieve intra- and intergenerational equity in access to resources and a healthy, natural environment, the aim of regenerative design is far higher. It aims to transform the way we create the built environment so that it contributes to the well-being, nourishment and regeneration of the world and all its communities.
   

Mar-Apr 2015
 
When you think of ecotourism, vivid images are conjured—treetop houses, natural waterfalls, untouched islands using only what nature provides to survive, and wildlife roaming around free where you are being accommodated. While ecotourism has not consistently got to that level yet, it is on its way, and is the fastest growing segment of tourism around the world.
   

Mar-Apr 2015
ECOTOURISM IN AUSTRALIA by Louis White
 
When you think of ecotourism, vivid images are conjured—treetop houses, natural waterfalls, untouched islands using only what nature provides to survive, and wildlife roaming around free where you are being accommodated. While ecotourism has not consistently got to that level yet, it is on its way, and is the fastest growing segment of tourism around the world.
 
   

Mar-Apr 2015
 
While catering to the various needs and comforts of their guests, hotels and resorts can also cater to the needs and comforts of the environment and communities they surround. The idea is that beyond the design of a building, the tourism industry could gain a long-term competitive advantage by taking a closer look at their daily operations and sustainable management plans.
   

Jan-Feb 2015
 
When restricted by the constraints of space, cost or materials, there is great challenge but also great opportunity to design homes that are not just functional but liveable. As cities continue to grow, affordability and availability of living spaces become increasingly problematic. Living small or compact may not only be a lifestyle choice but rather a necessity.
   

Jan-Feb 2015
 
India has traditions to keep, and traditions to let go. Ceiling fans, for example, which originated nearly 300 years ago as cloth-covered frames called punkah, are a tradition to keep. Clay bricks, on the other hand, which date back to the ancient civilisation of the Indus Valley, are a tradition to leave behind.
   

Sep-Oct 2014
 
From vertical gardens, sky gardens, underground walipinis to urban foresty, food production is becoming smarter, more ingenuitative and increasingly widespread.
   

Sep-Oct 2014
HOW SMART IS YOUR CITY? By Louis White
 
According to the online business dictionary, the definition of a smart city is a "developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in key multiple areas—economy, mobility, environment, people, living and government."
   

Jul-Aug 2014
 
The shophouse is an urban vernacular of Singapore and Malaysia that has an almost 200-year history. Today shophouses are conserved and adapted as swanky restaurants and bars, chic retail spaces, upmarket residences, boutique hotels, and other exclusive commercial developments.
   

Jul-Aug 2014
LEGACY OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES By Alakesh Dutta
 
Host cities in the past have struggled, and some have failed, to establish a meaningful function for the infrastructure after the Games. Notable failures were Moscow, Beijing, and probably the most prominent, Athens. Large investments were injected to create showpieces for the duration of the Games, but ended up as eyesores thereafter.
   

Mar-Apr 2014
 
Airport architecture has vastly evolved in the 20th century. From rural airstrips to megalith structures, from cultural showpieces to technological marvels, they have stunned, shocked and completely overtaken their predecessors.
   

Mar-Apr 2014
 
There is no doubt that timber is one of the most important and influential material components of the built and natural world. Ancient ships, buildings and tools have long been forged by the world’s forests with some relics still existing today, denoting timber’s value, versatility and durability.
   

Mar-Apr 2014
 
The issue of sustainable transportation in the 21st century is a focus of global environmental concern. As urban centres develop to meet the demands of expansion and growth, there is an ever-present conflict with allocation of space to meet various needs.
   

Nov-Dec 2013
 
With rapidly growing economies and a bustling population that has high expectations, urbanisation in most developing countries presents a conundrum to building and construction policy makers. 
   

Sep-Oct 2013
 
Climate change and sustainability have moved to the forefront of many governments’ developmental concerns, and across the Asia-Pacific governments have been increasingly active in launching new policies to drive Green building.
   

Mar-Apr 2013
 
The world’s population hit more than 7 billion people in 2011, and is expected to grow to about 9 billion by 2050. This will inevitably require an increase in demand for residential land and food.
   

Jan-Feb 2013
 
“If you have an iPhone with a light, maybe you can get a picture.”
   

4Q 2012
ECOTOURISM IN INDIA by Karuna Gopal
 
Even as India’s show-stopper, the Orchid Hotel with its 79 international awards embellishing her crown wowed the world on the global ecotourism catwalk, the Supreme Court of India banned tourism in tiger reserves of the country...
   

3Q 2012

In the case of working in both the university sector and in the delivery of private residences, there exists the opportunity for architects to expand approaches to sustainability in the built environment beyond simply addressing...
   

1Q 2012
Shopping malls across Indonesia have come to resemble one another in recent years. Reflecting similar façades and layouts of a massive cooling box, the same building designs could overwhelm shoppers with their scale and complication...
   

4Q 2011
GREEN LIGHT TO SUSTAINABLE LIGHTING by Dr Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos
 
As human beings we perceive the world through our five senses, but most of the information from our surroundings is visual. Through our eyes we gather impressions of the space: dimensions, depth, textures, materials, colours and shapes. Light, natural and artificial, is one of the main aspects of our perception and experience of the built...

 

   

3Q 2011

VERTICAL GARDENS by Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle
 
When one sees Antilia built in Mumbai for India's richest man, the world's largest and most expensive private residence, standing out amidst Asia's biggest slum, one begins to wonder if the words "social and ecological responsibility" hold any meaning for some architects. All the initial talk of hanging gardens and living walls on all four sides...
 
   

2Q 2011

HO CHI MINH CITY UNDER THE WRECKING BALL by Melissa Merryweather
 
There is always a tipping point when a rising trend becomes obvious to the general population. Ho Chi Minh City has arrived at that point where even the most unobservant onlooker can see the extent of change the urban fabric is undergoing...
 
   

2Q 2011
 
SECOND LIFE by Chris Bosse
 
What to do with an aging 1970s icon? Is there an alternative to demolishing and rebuilding it? Can we repurpose inefficient or outdated buildings? For Chris Bosse, adjunct professor at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Asia Pacific Director of Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA)...
 

 


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