Whether you are designing brand new or refurbished pubic buildings, urban planning in order to regenerate a city centre, or building brand new homes in rural locations, there is an importance in the modern age to design, plan and build in a sustainable manner that lends itself to the natural surroundings and a responsibility to the environment. At the design and planning stage the responsibility of sustainability falls with the architects, and many firms will have tweaked the approach they take with any project in order to ensure that all newly built and renovated properties have the best chance possible to survive long into the future.
The key in many cases is to choose materials that are adaptable. This can be achieved through the sourcing of sustainable materials without losing the integrity of a structure in terms of its aesthetic. Utilising modern design techniques and pairing them with traditional methods of construction this can be achieved. You see in many places that some of the oldest buildings in place are the ones that are the most energy efficient, are best insulated to make them perfectly cool in summer and warm in winter, and many other little features that make them much easier places to live than many modern buildings.
Thermal qualities is a great place to start, and we can certainly learn a lot from designers and builders of the past. Historic properties and traditional building methods included materials that were chosen for their thermal qualities as much as the cost and durability. Solid walls and the thoughtful placing of windows and doors ensured that there was always plenty of light coming in to the building, and that there was a clean flow of air at all times if required. What this does is help to keep the temperature cool when it is warm outside, and vice versa in winter when the temperature drops outside.
Sourcing local materials is another key facet of any modern day sustainable project, with low energy technologies utilised wherever possible to keep down the carbon footprint of the site and the project. In the design phase, architects are looking to minimise rather than complicate matters, in many cases, limiting exposure to high-end technology and looking towards lightly glazed buildings rather than large glass-laden structures that gobble up the heat and are costly to construct.
The sheer number of listed buildings in the UK highlight how traditional design and construction methods were very effective. The consistent style and aesthetic provide elegance in terms of design, but the structures are sound, durable, and allow for fantastic thermal qualities. It makes for a much more enticing proposition than a new-build for many people. Always ensure that you work with an architectural firm that understands the benefits of old-style techniques and methods, but that they also combine them with forward-thinking training to ensure that the best of both worlds are used to build sustainable buildings that are environmentally responsible in the future.