EXPERT TALKS is a new initiative from BUILD UP. In the form of face-to-face interviews, experts coming from all around Europe and covering the field of Energy Efficiency in buildings from different perspectives will share their views, experience and expertise with BUILD UP audience. The interview addresses relevant topics linked to the Topic of the Month.
The 8th edition of our Expert talk hosts Armand Paardekooper Overman, associate architect at Mecanoo. He is also a founding partner of fUSE Architecture and, in 2014, he founded the real estate development company Urban Sync. He has extensive experience in realizing spatial quality within the context of complex multi-stakeholder processes. The focus of the interview is on architecture and urban planning, technology and materials in buildings and some very innovative projects which Armand has been involved with.
First, Armand addresses the role of the architect which has a great variety since usually architects focus on very specific innovations. However, he suggests that architects should go beyond the specific innovation and focus also on the landscape, urban development, urban strategies, engineering, etc. Architects should visualise and combine those professional fields with architecture, so that it would be possible to scale up and bring them into practice. At the same time, having a broader approach means to first focus on how to make a change in the economic/social aspect and then what kind of building designs and urban design should be created. This would also make a difference in scaling up energy regulations and targets set by, for example, the Paris agreement, he underlines.
Armand then illustrates some projects of specific technologies and materials, but also innovative processes in construction, which allow to save energy both in the scale of the building itself, both in its life cycle process. For example: buildings´ façades that absorbs emissions in cities, using machines that are all electrical during the construction phase, using local wood, collecting water from the roof of buildings to absorb the heat and thus to cool down the building, and using re-cycled materials (e.g. 100% recycled concrete with the same quality of a new one). He particularly highlights the importance of circularity in architecture, referring to the business case of “leasing” materials.
To conclude the list of projects, he then considers the global scale and illustrates his work on affordable housing in India and Sri Lanka. The aim was to build very simple, sustainable houses with roofs made of solar panels and to sell the electricity generated to attract investors. In this way, people who could not pay rent have been able to live there for free.
Finally, Armand gives his thoughts on the global emergency with Covid-19 and its impact on architecture and society. He suggests that we all should change perspective and focus more on the local situation. Mother nature, as he calls it, has showed us how we can slow down our activities and our lives and still make a change in terms of lower emissions, even without all the legislation, regulations and latest innovation in architecture and construction sector.