Architects: it's the ecology! *

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"Ecology is the science of the relationships of an organism with its environment." This was defined in 1908 by the Prussian biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel. Seen in this way, the building is like an organ, interconnected with other organs, that needs an organism to function, and this is the city and the environment where it is located. The sector faces a new paradigm where it is necessary to innovate so that these organisms work in a more sustainable way, since the future glimpses macrocities that shelter between 85 and 90% of humanity. To achieve this goal, change current tools for new ones and design new cities, because as Albert Einstein said: "You can not change the system using the same tools that have built the system we want to modify."


Architecture must innovate, rethink and redesign its design elements in order to define new organisms. And, as always, we rely on nature to serve as a reference, albeit by changing our perspective on it and learning what tools are valid for these objectives. For example: conceptually we must stop thinking and design "facades" to design and design new "envelopes". The skins of the different organisms are designed in nature to optimize the efficiency of external-internal environmental relations.


You have to look at products from the market of other disciplines and applications to incorporate them into the envelopes of future architectures (phase change materials, CO2 digesters, active membranes, etc.). But history has also taught us how cities were made in origin: when the weather was the determining factor for their design!


Example of how we think this symbiosis building / city should work is our reform project of the College of Architects of Gijón, in which a new laminated glass skin with thermostable film made of chestnut wood envelops another more conventional interior and creates a mattress thermal, which, like a great traditional lookout, optimizes the thermal relationships of the different orientations. This new envelope lights up at night like a lighthouse in the middle of the city, integrating symbiotically with a Renaissance mansion.


So is the renovation of the Cibeles Tower, a block of offices located in the courtyard of the main headquarters of the Bank of Spain. Here we have generated new circulation systems, both for users and for technical installations, giving rise to a free and modular plant with dry-installed elements. Also, we have put a new skin that surrounds the building improving its energy efficiency.


The headquarters of the Andalusian Energy Agency, in Seville, consists of a specialized set of "internal organs" formed by installations and networks of internal energy conduction: heat exchangers through buried pipes that naturally cool the outside air; light wells that substantially reduce the need for artificial lighting; solar chimneys that allow the extraction of the superheated air and, finally, a network of ventilation columns that fulfill both structural and cooling functions. These strategies allow the building to self-supply 50% of its energy consumption, with renewable energy sources, which places it among one of the most advanced bioclimatic architecture projects in Europe.


The Solar Hemicycle in Madrid, which consists of 92 housing units for rent for young people, is another good example of sustainable building, since it was the first residential building in Europe to use a horizontal geothermal system by air (also called "wells"). Canadians "), which reduces energy consumption by 50/60% compared to a conventional residential building, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions by up to 50%. The excuse that the price of housing would become more expensive does not work; this building proves it: very affordable and very efficient homes can be made.

* 'Architects, it's ecology!' Is the name of the paper that César Ruiz-Larrea is giving through various forums in our country to draw attention to the need for sustainable architecture to stop being future and be already present in the trade, because all the tools are in the hands of professionals to make it that way. The conference has been held to date in the Spring Fair 2018, organized by Architecture and Business in the Territorial College of Architects of Valencia, and the Hiria Forum on sustainable building, organized in Pamplona by Diario de Noticias.