Some great thinking about energy efficient design for cold climates has come out of Canada, including the Saskatchewan Conservation House that was an inspiration for the Passivhaus movement in Europe. But it does seem that if you want to see innovation today, Europe is where you have to go, to Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. And that is what Heather Dubbeldam and team is doing; she and her firm just won the Prix de Rome:
...one of the oldest and most prestigious prizes in architecture, First established in France in 1663 and adopted in Canada in 1987, and is awarded annually to an architecture firm that has demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. It encourages the development of artistic excellence in contemporary architectural practice by supporting prize recipients to travel the world to develop their skills and creative practice through research and study, and to strengthen their position in a global architectural context.
She is going on a road trip for a research project called ‘The Next Green – Innovation in Sustainable Housing’ to visit all the hot spots and cool buildings.
The firm intends to explore how architects in these countries set new standards for buildings that surpass current protocols for sustainability, while developing a unique spatial and artistic architectural language in which energy efficiency and design merge seamlessly. The project will engage Scandinavian and German architects, research institutions and industry leaders in these countries, and will include the study of passive houses, Net-Zero Energy homes and regenerative design (buildings that produce more energy than they consume). Furthermore, investigations will be undertaken into technologies such as building-integrated photovoltaics, and new developments in responsive or ‘intelligent’ materials – all features of tomorrow’s buildings.
I will be following it closely on Twitter and Instagram as they visit so many of the places we have shown on TreeHugger but that would love to see up close and personal. I would love to be a fly on the wall when she visits Snøhetta's Zero Energy House or BIQ house in Germany or really, any of the others on this trip. Actually, I wish she would sell seats in the car.
If I was on this trip I would insist on a stop in Vauban, which goes beyond the basic structure and looks at how to build a car-free green community, which is as important as the individual green building. It might well be the most important model for green living in Europe, and has some wonderful work-to-own policies that would be really helpful in North America where young people can no longer afford homes. More in TreeHugger.
When I got to Sweden I would go way up north to the Lindbäcks, factory and see how they are revolutionizing building technology and building incredible multifamily wood prefabs, which we need a lot more of in Canada and the US. More in TreeHugger
I am actually really envious of Heather and her team because she is visiting what is a very different world when it comes to green building.
Architects in these countries are continuing to set new standards for buildings that live up to and even surpass protocols for sustainability, without compromising design excellence. They are creating building-integrated sustainable solutions that generate a unique spatial and artistic architectural language, one in which energy efficiency and design merge seamlessly in process and result. The poetry inherent in this architectural language emerges from both utilizing and resisting the natural elements—rain, sun, snow and wind.
I have made a few suggestions for additions to the itinerary; I invite readers to add their own suggestions and maybe even invitations in comments below.