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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow Summary of the October 2010 22@Update Breakfast
Summary of the October 2010 22@Update Breakfast
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Sustainability in urban buildings                                          

The current architectural model is in crisis, both economically and conceptually. Trends over the past years have focused on moving architecture towards criteria based on image and marketing, and away from other aspects. We currently need to redirect architecture towards a more cultural and ecological model. We must make a more responsible and environmentally friendly model viable, committing to new materials and structures.

Breakfast octubre 2010

The October 22@Update Breakfast was held during the 14th Barcelona Meeting Point Real Estate Fair, at a conference space on the Barcelona Fairgrounds.

Mr. Josep M. Piqué, managing director of 22@Barcelona, welcomed all participants and then introduced the two speakers: Mr. Joan Sabaté, from the SaAs architectural studio, and Mr. Enric Ruiz Geli, from the Cloud 9 architectural studio. The speakers presented the architectural model used in the “Blood and Tissue Bank” and “Media-TIC” buildings, respectively. These are two examples of buildings designed according to sustainability criteria in the 22@Barcelona district.

The key issue dealt with in the event was the need to change architectural trends and move towards a more sustainable model, using new materials and innovative technology and applying the closely related concepts of eco-efficiency and architectural lightness.

The building of the “Barcelona Blood and Tissue Bank” (BST), one of the most important blood treatment facilities in the world, has received a number of architectural awards. The most noteworthy of these is perhaps its selection to represent Spain in the European Commission’s exhibition on Sustainable Architecture in Brussels. Mr. Joan Sabaté, who heads the architectural studio that developed the project, highlighted the three main principles that make this building a good example of sustainable architecture: flexibility, eco-efficiency and healthy spaces. Sabaté also pointed out the importance of designing new buildings that make good use of space, in order to meet the challenges of technological or organizational changes that may occur in the future and, therefore, lengthen the lifespan of the building.

“Durability is the first condition of sustainability”

Sabaté highlighted two other aspects that make the BST building a model of eco-efficiency. Firstly, its increased thermal insulation, which creates a shield protecting the building from external heat and, at the same time, uses climate control systems that cool the building naturally with outside air. And secondly, the way the building deals with light, using window materials that make it possible to work without electric lighting during most of the day. These two actions have allowed for a significant decrease in energy use in the building.

Finally, Sabaté also explained the architectural improvements included in the “Blood and Tissue Bank” building, which prevent or reduce workplace illnesses like lipoatrophia, using a natural electromagnetic radiation dissipation network.

Sabaté finished his presentation by explaining that “energy efficiency” and “economic profitability” are not incompatible concepts, in fact it’s just the opposite.

“The BST saves nearly one and a half million kWh per year, equivalent to annual power usage of 429 housing units.”

Afterwards, 22@ innovator of the month Mr. Enric Ruiz Geli, director of the Cloud 9 architectural studio, took the floor. This studio designed the Media-TIC building, which was promoted by the Zona Franca Consortium and created to be a forum for residents and meeting point for companies and organizations in the information and communication technology sector in Barcelona, as well as the audiovisual and media sector. Ruiz Geli focused his talk on the importance of architectural lightness as a key element of the digital revolution we are currently experiencing. The Media-TIC project is an example of digital architecture, built through CAD-CAM processes.

“We are building the “Digital La Pedrera” in 22@Barcelona"

Ruiz Geli explained that architecture impacts the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by 40%. Thus, he explained, the main element behind the “Media-TIC” building’s eco-efficiency is its ETFE skin, a new material created through research and innovation. The ETFE skin that covers the building allows it to save 20% more energy thanks to a variety of qualities that characterize this material, like lightness, elasticity and self-combustion.

On a more conceptual note, Ruiz Geli spoke of the importance of changing our architectural model. While the “Gaudí school” of architecture was made up of a group of artisans working to achieve “modernist beauty”, new professionals in the fields of architecture and construction must work together to achieve “energetic beauty”.

The director of Cloud 9 finished his talk explaining the importance of a general reduction in power use to the environment and sustainability, not only in buildings but also in all areas of the city.

Mr. Josep M. Piqué, managing director of 22@Barcelona, closed the October 22@update breakfast by inviting all those present to attend the Barcelona Meeting Point Symposium entitled “Productive spaces and End Users: Sources of Economic and Real Estate Development”, which took place after the Breakfast at the fairgrounds.

Key Ideas

Professionals from the sector agree on the importance of a change in architectural model, moving towards increased levels of sustainability by using and promoting materials and structures that make buildings lighter.

“Making buildings more eco-efficient isn't contrary to profitability. Proper projection of the building from the beginning will allow for reduced costs in both initial investment and the lifespan of the building.”

“Flexibility, elasticity and lightness of materials, together with improved organization of spaces in the initial stages of architectural projects, are two of the most significant factors in achieving higher levels of eco-efficiency and sustainability.”

“Sustainability and energy efficiency must move from being merely a talking point to become a reality in the construction of all new buildings.”

Attendees Speak

“It is important to progressively introduce more technology in construction. Sustainability must move from being merely a talking point to become a reality and a way to set buildings apart from conventional, archaic constructions. We must remember that economic savings should be taken into account throughout the life of the building, not just in the investment and construction stages. We live in a country that is prepared, regarding both knowledge and raw materials, to move towards new construction technology and we must take advantage of this situation.”

“I believe that the two architectural projects presented, the “Blood and Tissue Bank” and the “Media-TIC”, are good examples of cutting-edge buildings in sustainability. Above all the “Media-TIC” building is a clear example of how new architectural ideas and proposals are not only powerful but also work. Regarding the speakers, I think they were concise and light, in line with the architectural model they proposed.”

Both buildings discussed today are a perfect example of new models of innovative construction, both in their use of materials and their search for improved efficiency. I am perplexed as to why they are exceptions in the current architectural panorama, not the rule.”

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