At FuturArc, we have long argued that architects seeking sustainable outcomes must first rethink how a building talks to the world around it. Too many, for too long, have focused primarily on what happens within site-and-shell. In this pursuit of civic-mindedness and generosity (terms that architects WOHA use to describe outcomes of relational function), form is key.
So what can be done? What should form do? How might it shape outcome?
The Naiipa Art Complex and Inter Crop Office in Bangkok shed some light on this. Here, the building is fragmented or fractalised. With the creation of a green patch, occupants of the buildings have greater access to daylight and
views, and can open up the interiors to natural ventilation. The new surfaces created here can act as spill-out spaces for occupants—they shade the envelope and become surfaces for food cultivation or habitat creation.
Other projects ahead engage in similar acts of form innovation. The Surat Diamond Bourse is a fishbone arrangement of blocks that yields eight landscaped courts. The K11 Atelier King’s Road fractalises the lower half of the office tower for more inclusive public spaces and greenery. The House in Chau Duc has an intricate skin that can transform its porosity, altering the relationship of inside to outside.
The Main Feature is an Urban Portrait of Hong Kong, a city that reveals itself to be dynamic and shape shifting. The spatial organisation of its streets changes from day to night; spaces used for pedestrian movement during the week are transformed for social gatherings on weekends. The form of this city is partly an act of design, partly an act of interaction of people to people.
Conversely, the design of Amaravati, a new capital city for a southern state in India, is questioned by our writer. How much will this city, when completed, yield to the everyday realities of India? Where will the informality of India cities reside within this very formal city?
Arguably, each of the projects ahead could do more, and their impact on the wider system-of-systems could
be better documented. But they are, we think, an important first step in discussing the role of the architect and
urban designer in the making of sustainable design.