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Sustainability and design is the integration of skilled interior architecture and the usage of electricity, mechanism and considerations of environmental issues into a built space. The intention is to eliminate harmful environmental impacts, to provide energy efficiency as a requirement that will in return maximize productivity with the aid of nature to offset technology. Sustainable design creates solutions that tackle the economy by reducing buildings' maintenance cost and the social aspects of preserving habitats in a healthy environment.
The design should be lasting and flexible, striving to improve the quality of life while eliminating the need for non renewable resources and energy with a clear objective to be capable of functioning "unplugged", meaning that the space is operable without electricity. If a building is highly energy efficient but cannot function unplugged, it fails to achieve the full essence of sustainability.
Buildings and constructions have been consuming large quantities of non renewable materials and fuel, leading to the release of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants. In order to abate further destructions to the environment and to realise sustainability, an effective approach would be to turn towards ecology, the study of interactions between living organisms and their environment. Natural lighting, a fundamental element of interior and architecture, being seen in the perspective of sustainable design is furthermore part of the challenging process whereby matters concerning the human qualities of life will be affected. The studio project aims to design a spa and will examine the studies of ecological design and day lighting to deliver a better design solution.
2.0 Turning towards Ecology
Through the understanding in an ecological context, the term sustainability denotes the ability of an ecosystem being capable of maintaining ecological processes, functions, biodiversities and productivity into the future. Since ancient times, human survival was dependent on the ecosystem energies of sun, air, water and earth that created a healthy relationship to nature. But as centuries past and technology progressively developed which induced luxurious living standards, people have slowly been disconnected rather than being sustained within the earth's ecologic reality. The economic factor has an impact towards shaping the qualities of life and the environment. Ecological design was formulated and guidelines were implemented with the use of design principles and strategies to help in minimizing environmental destructions and pollutions, reducing consumption of energy and resources, as well as enhancing the well being of users.
2.1 Ecologic Economic
Every project has its budgetary limitations and often a time, the expectations of clients tend to exceed the actual cost. This is due to dissatisfaction of the inquisitive minds that were constantly in search for a better technology to encompass functional needs, visions of power, position and wealth that in turn influenced greatly on the design of form, energy, methods and materials. The wealthy and prestigious were culprits that challenges nature's vitality and set the economic pattern to exploit global resources to satisfy their superfluous. The latter have left the poor to emulate the royal privilege and lose the origins of life that was once contributed majorly by the ecosystem.
2.1.1 The Technological World
People are now living in an artificial technological world of their own making, spending most of the time within indoors of high rise buildings that secludes them from the natural forces that sustains and rejuvenates the bodies and minds. The depreciation of the ecologic economy will continue to prolong until the realities of life and vitalities that empower our souls which derives from ecological energy gains recognition again. Apart from these, another crucial factor lies beneath the cost of energy, the taxes and subsidies paid actually integrated a hidden cost that is not reflected in the statement of electricity generated and consumed. The discrepancy was due to expenses in health and medical bills which were inflicted by anti-ecologic of wasteful military, oil spills and other forms causing environmental damage.
Technological solutions are often the cause of problems instead, through the requirement of additional cleaning and maintenance. At a time when non renewable reserves of fossil fuels are getting costly to tap and producing less net energy, it will only be wise to start designing structures that function well without them. Architects and designers should develop a unifying ecological design philosophy that is beneficial to the environment while at the same time ensuring that the values and lifestyles are maintained.
2.2 Ecologic Design
To achieve ecological design for a healthier environment and for habitats, ecologic concerns and frugality of the earth's resources and energy is paramount in the disciplines of interior and architecture which are demanding upon another. Designing with nature, by reinforcing the relationship of projects to their site and making minimal changes to the natural system is a connectivity principle for designing sustainability. The sun is the earth prime source of energy and it should also be applied towards architecture. The interior planning and design plays a major role in dictating how effectively the sun can be utilised to provide energy efficiency towards thermal comfort, ventilation and day lighting.
2.2.1 The Integration Process
The site is not just an address, it comprises issues with the economy, environmental and social attributes of its location. Therefore consideration should always be carefully thought to develop views or enhancing existing ones that will correspond between interior and exterior. Literally room-like outdoor spaces like patios and garden enclaves can create a desirable affinity with the interior and provide good ventilation. Integrating the natural attributes of the site can reduce energy consumption considerably which in return cuts down on maintenance cost and are better for the environment.
The usage and selection of materials is of equal importance, there is no restriction but a wiser choice that gives justification towards ecologic on a particular project. Resource efficiency can be accomplished by utilising materials that possess the reuse and recycle criteria, saving a material from disposal through means of salvaged, refurbished or to remanufacture. Materials like aluminum possess the properties of durability and not easily duplicated are energy intensive but also capable for easy recycling. Renewable materials like wood and bamboo do not require processing and have a relatively low energy demand. Local availability of building materials, components and systems will be highly preferred, as it conserves energy and resources during transportation to the project site.
2.3 Studio Project
Striving for conservation and energy efficiency is highly commendable, but on an ecological scale, the matters of human vitality, well being and health have tend to be disregarded and lost during the process of design. Quoted from the book, Day lighting for sustainable design, it mentioned "Alvar Aalto, reminds us that the human experiences, even those that are intangible, should not be overlooked."
In the creation of an up-market spa located within a park massively surrounded by greeneries and water, driven by the concept of mystical, the intention was to portray an inner dimension of nature and to inject a sense of spiritual healing into the spaces. Interlocking forms were orientated to the site's existing natural elements of water and trees to intensify connectivity between the interior and exterior. Pockets of spaces were designed to "push" the functions out towards nature to receive tranquility and cross ventilation. Day lighting will be use extensively among the spaces to envision power of mysticism and spirituality of nature as well as to minimize energy consumption. Investigation on how natural lighting will affect the qualities of life will be further elaborated along with illustrations.
2.4 Day Lighting
Our first impression of an environment is initially evaluated by sight, day lighting is an essential tool for our basic sense of vision as the surroundings is perceived with the qualities of light that allows judgment of volume and depth, colours and textures, and the ability to negotiate within spaces. The sustainable energy of the sun has been providing thermal warmth, illumination and giving life to earth, nature and our soul. With the ability to nourish the well being of human, day lighting should be taken into consideration towards social implications, hierarchy and power, as well as evoking a spiritual connection that will enhance the human awareness towards ecological values.
2.4.1 Social Interaction
Day lighting can be a form of encouragement towards social interactions, people naturally will approach spaces with distinct qualities of light, where they could be gathered in different ways. In warm and cold climatic areas, people seek comfort from natural lighting. They might pause under a dappled light of a tree lined plaza and sit in a pool of warm sunlight from a south facing window respectively. It is evident to rationalise day lighting has an influence on our movement through space and towards a sustainable design.
At times one may long for an intimate space of light to seek refuge for reflection or concentration but at the same time avoid total isolation from the community. The reading carrels at the Exeter Library designed by architect Louis Khan has informed on how study areas could provide a personal space of light within the public realms.
[ILL 1] Reading carrels at Exeter library[ILL 2]Soseikan Tea House
In times where communal activities desire a higher level of interactions among people, spaces might be ideal to have pockets or pools of light and shadow to gather and hold them. In the works of architect Tadao Ando, his ingenuity of designing with day lighting is highly remarkable. The Soseikan Tea House has exemplified how the creation of low horizontal windows had allowed light to wash the floor and define a space of light for the master and the audience while shadow envelopes the entire tea ceremony.
2.4.2 Hierarchy and Power
Roslyn Lindheim mentioned in the book, day lighting for sustainable design, that "day lighting can be equated to power" and "the size and quality of space have always been indicators of social status." To draw an interrelationship back to ecologic economics, it is understood that the wealthy had the ability to influence our built environment. Likewise, if day lighting could be use to replace technology and resources to depict power, it would be greatly beneficial for a sustainable environment.
It is undeniable that the society is hierarchically structured, one who possess power will have the privilege of choice over the norms. Looking in the perspective of an office environment, typically, superiors often get access to day light from window seats, while supporting staff are being clustered within the interior. Although many may not really consider who gets access to day lighting the most, subconsciously the inequalities of light distribution has a negative impact towards the well being of human and the way they conceive themselves in the community. This in turn will affect productivity and precedence had taken measures to subdue the problem by ensuring every staff regardless of job title gains access to day lighting. The approach was inclusive of placing workstations near to window walls, providing flexible furniture and the use of thin building plans.
2.4.3 Spiritual Connection
Human perceive and experience the environment through all of their senses, the mysticism of day lighting is capable of providing more than just visuals. Slits, openings and windows admit warmth from the sun, feel of the wind, smell of the breeze and sounds from the site. People have been linking issues of spirituality with ecology and nature, some try to understand some merely acknowledge the mystery and interconnections of life. As daylight has always been a medium used in depicting architecture into a sacred space, we should start integrating these aspects of natural light to raise ecological awareness into spaces we inhabit daily.