Earlier this month I attended a lecture by Swedish Architect Lars Danielsson, Organic Swedish Architecture. He used a handful of Swedish architectural examples to explain larger ideas about sustainability, as it pertains to the citizens of the world, not just architects. The lecture was loosely organized around the ancient Greek elements of fire, soil and fire.

Elements

 

Energy (Fire)

Danielsson highlighted a common building approach in Sweden (and elsewhere) to conserve energy in new residential construction, Superinsulation. By combining a highly insulated building envelope with passive solar gain, Super Insulated buildings need very little in the way of additional heat. In addition to the sun, heat is generated by the people and appliances within the enclosure.

Superinsulated Swedish House

Resources (Earth)

This report covers the discussion, and much more. The ideas presented were at once large and small scale. The infrastructure for recycling anything (energy or soda cans) must be in place for the individual to participate. Within a building for example, it is possible to employ heat exchangers, which do not rely on larger infrastructure to be useful in reducing energy consumption.

Recycle Earth

Ventilation (Air)

Danielsson highlighted another technical solution for reducing energy consumption and improving quality of life. Geothermal heating and cooling can be employed in many places and with proper design can be effective without using electricity.

Geothermal Diagram

Water

“Clean water and healthy children never travel in a straight line” summarizes the more philosophical bent Danielsson took at the end of his lecture. His discussion of water transcended the factual importance of clean water and spoke to the spiritual importance of having things in balance, that water re-affirms quality of life.

Flowing Water

Overall, the lecture was thorough and made a consistent argument about making more effective decisions with the way we spend money and energy. It was a solid primer on sustainability and the ecological way of looking at the world and architecture, particularly more passive solutions and learning from nature. The majority of the ideas were already familiar to me, not only from architecture school, but also from my primary education and at home where I first learned about passive solar and the importance of respecting our environment so that it can provide for us.

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