‘Walkability’ – A Crucial factor in Green Township Design In the modern times that we live in, there is an increasing feeling that people are often feeling isolated. There is an increasing feeling that a vast majority of people are living in ‘islands’, aloof and not integrated with the social fabric. While there could be other psychological factors attributed to this kind of social behaviour, there is increasing evidence to suggest that this could be also because of the kind of structures that we dwell in nowadays.

The relationship between stress and buildings It is increasingly being accepted that the buildings that we live have deep impact psychological impact on us. Unrest among teenagers, failures in relationships, stress, etc have been attributed to the modern day malaise of people being confined within four walls almost all the time. This does not leave any room for quality inter-personal bonding. Instead, it only makes people live aloof, leading segregated lives, without interacting with the community.

Walk-able Townships The solution for all the ills of the society according to modern architects is to promote the concept of ‘walk-able’ townships. In fact, concept has come to be known as ‘New Urbanism’ in recent times. According to the concept almost everything that you need in a township should be accessible on foot.

In a township built under this concept, getting out of home will no longer mean reaching for your car keys and hitting the road, at the drop of a hat anymore. People would be instead, walking down to other places, which would in turn facilitate greater social interaction. The entire concept is being promoted in order to promote home bonding. The bigger benefit though would be the amount of harm that we would be saving our environment from with the concept.

Modern urban sprawls, in the form of gated communities often do not encourage social interaction and only end up increasing social isolation. Communication within communities is almost nil in such large urban habitats. Architects advocating New Urbanism, however plan for neighbourhoods that have greater facilities for pedestrians and vast open spaces for social interaction among members of the community. Benefits Galore The increase in walkability will lead to perhaps the best kind of urban surface transportation method. Besides being the cheapest mode of transport, walking will also improve the health of the inmates of a township. The healthy life of the citizens in turn will mean a direct decrease in stress levels. Even crime rates may go down because of the social interaction and timely resolving of issues.

Green Buildings for beginners A Ready -reckoner to Build Green

A green building is the culmination of several informed decision that are aimed at reducing the energy usage, reduce the overall cost and also minimize the maintenance of a building. These buildings are more comfortable, healthier, while also being more energy efficient, making them less expensive than conventional buildings to operate. Here are some top factors that you need to keep in mind when building green. Cross ventilation is of paramount importance. You should place windows and doors strategically in order to allow for free flow of air currents.

There should be a proper mix of lower inflow windows to allow cool air inside and higher outflow windows to allow for exit of hot air. Wherever possible use double glass panes sine they reduce heat transfer. The use of low emissive glass with metal oxide coating on them helps in reducing solar radiation inside a building. The building orientations, roof overhangs, window placements and reflective barriers must be use make use of, as well as control solar energy. It has been found that lighter color roof materials are the best suited to warmer climates since they absorb lesser amount of heat. Placing reflective decks on the underside of roofs helps in reducing solar radiation.

Whenever it comes to your heating or air conditioning system, you must make sure that you have the right sized system installed in the building. Oversized systems are known to cool or heat too quickly. Smaller systems are always desirable since they gradually heat or cool the room and are also more energy efficient.

Professional ongoing maintenance of air conditioning and heating systems is another aspect that you should not neglect. The vegetation in the building should be compatible in accordance with the levels of rainfall in your area. This is one of the fundamental aspects of sustainable building. Native landscaping is one of the most important criteria for green building certification. An effective storm water harvesting system, consisting of a network of barrels and gutters should be part of the building. Reusable materials such as plastic or wood should be considered for constructing decks. Use easily renewable, locally produced material, wherever possible in the structure. Consider sustainable building materials such as straw bale, rammed earth or floors made up of reused wood. Use materials with recyclable components such as lumber composites and linoleum wherever possible in the building. Do not bury solvents or pains to be buried on the site and make sure that all construction waste is properly disposed of. Try and avoid solvent based products which release VOCs. Instead use products that are non toxic, cold water compatible and biodegradable. Look for the green rating on the labels of all the products.

The Stunning ‘Vertical Park’ in Mexico City

Mexico City is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Just as in the case with other large cities around the world, space is at a premium in this city too. In a city with a population of 22 million, where green space is hard to come by, Jorge Hernandez de la Garza Architects has come out with a stunning design of a ‘Vertical Park. The modular building is actually a ‘stacked’ skyscraper. The entire structure contains solar panels spread throughout its envelope and contains several sky gardens. The building will also be capable of recycling all the water that is used by its inhabitants.

The tower is to be constructed entirely using steel frames to support solar panels. These solar panels will in turn fulfill the building’s energy requirements. The steel frames will also allow free movement of wind through them, allowing to keep the temperatures at comfortable levels.

This stackable solar skyscraper has modular units even for urban farming. There are several sky gardens in which crops can be raised. Apart from it, the building also provides flexibility to rearrange the work and living spaces inside it. In fact, some of the components can be just removed and stacked together to rearrange the whole space, making this one of a kind sustainable development.

Bus Architecture Makes its Entry
Recently newspapers in India had commended the steps launched by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kerjriwal in innovatively using old buses to accommodate people, in order to protect them from the cold wave conditions in New Delhi. Well, it seems that there are other places too around the world where old buses are being put to good use. Take the example of a certain Mr.Collier-Woods in West Midlands, UK, who has brought a 1982 retired metro bus and converted it into a “green” hotel. The bus features a full size kitchen, lounge and a dining area, apart from having enough space to sleep 6 people comfortably.