3 stellar reasons for eco-design

One of a Kind Apartments have been coined 'eco-chic', which simply means 'simple, elegant, environmental design with a difference'. It's not necessarily a style but more a response to the existential challenge of this age –how do we lighten our footprint and do more with less? How do we use the bounty of this age to not exhaust this planet but to create a future for as many generations as we can imagine?

Originally shelters were designed and constructed to keep the elements out and provide comfort and amenity. They were simple and progressively evolved as knowledge, materials and needs changed. With social progress came wealth and status, and this began to be reflected in ostentatious and impractical dwellings, overtaking the earlier requirements for simple, practical and utilitarian structures. And now that our Societies are wealthier than ever, we are consuming resources like never before building ostentatious ‘design statements’ that we may not even like to live in.

Design is subjective and is ultimately a compromise between competing needs and wants. For this reason there is no universal or proper design. It is therefore important to be aware of the needs that are driving the design, particularly in a building project, if we want it to last and be of use across the generations. There are 3 obvious needs that influenced my design; the need to create a sound shelter, the need to create a happy home and the need for a creative solution. Considering the needs of the environment has helped meet these needs.

1. The first and obvious reason to consider the environment in the design is to create a shelter to keep out the elements. This means creating dwellings that keep the winter cold and summer heat out. Materials are now available that not only make this possible but also cost-effective. To rely on heaters in winter and coolers in summer is not only unnecessarily expensive but is also a missed opportunity.

2. The second reason is to create a home that connects us to each other and to our environment. This is a balance between space and scale; creating a living space that allows us to comfortably interact without being isolating; a space that does not consume excessive resources in its construction and upkeep. And, also a space that includes natural, non man-made elements of nature.

3. The third reason is that it makes for a creative expression only possible when we do more with less. With experience and competence we are able to deliver with less effort and less angst and become economical and efficient. This is also true of house design. If with age and wisdom we learn economy and efficiency then as designers surely we can choose economy and efficiency as our starting point.

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