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Rownowaga 1 uk-56-61

  1. 1. Jana Tichá Green Architecture ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 56 13-10-30 14:40
  2. 2. Photo: a. lhotáková Photo: a. lhotáková Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie, und grün des Lebens goldner Baum. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust I, l. 2038 ‘All theory is grey, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.’ These words put by Goethe into the mouth of Mephistopheles have become a well-known line. Green is a metaphor of the life-giving forces of nature which man cannot fully master. Although human life is limited by nature, or perhaps because of it, man tries to stand up to it in many ways. Self-determination in relation to nature is one of the foundations of Western civilisation, whose attempts to create abstract systems, culminating in the modernity project1, have been widely The term used by the author, ‘moderne project‘, can be translated in several ways. The most appropriate seems to be ‘modernity project‘ which covers a number of phenomena that the writer refers to: the concept of modernity founded on the philosophy of the Enlightenment, achievements of the Industrial Revolution, and aesthetic tendencies of modernism (Pol. trans. note). 1 discussed2. In architecture respect for the natural environment and the need to comply with its demands have been obvious for a long time. Knowledge of how to build so that the construction could withstand the forces of nature and how to choose the most convenient spot to carry out a project was essential in the architect’s profession3. With the process of modernisation, however, the tendency to standardise construction technologies grew, and the natural environment was treated as something to be optimized: nature was to be subordinated to construc- Problems of representing the real world through abstract systems with regard to their relations to architecture are undertaken, in phenomenological terms, by Dalibor Veselý, in his interesting work Architektura ve věku rozdělené reprezentace, Praha: Academia, 2008 (ibid. Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004). 3 Cf., e.g., the fundamental theoretical handbook for European architecture: A. Palladio, I quattro libri dell’architettura, Venezia, 1570, Am. ed.: ibid., The Four Books of Architecture, transl. R. Schofield, R. Tavernor, Cambridge, MA.: The MIT Press, 2002. 2 Projektil architekti, headquarters of an NGO, Brno, 2012 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 57 13-10-30 14:40
  3. 3. Photo: a. lhotáková Photo: a. lhotáková Projektil architekti, Sluňákov Centre for Ecological Activities, Olomouc, 2007 tion, and not vice versa4. After World War II the modernity project, with its characteristic technology-oriented (and technology-mediated) approach to the world showed some cracks through which some previously neglected aspects of reality penetrated into the society’s and specialists’ minds. One of those was environmental degradation resulting from modernisation processes. Respect for the environment and living in harmony with nature were some of the major postulates of liberal movements in the United States and Western Europe in the 1960s5. Initially, this attitude was treated by the majority of the society as a part of an alternative, ‘romantic’ way of life6, but the oil crisis of 1973 made decision makers consider concrete political, economic and financial questions related to the natural environment. ‘Hard data’ of the influence of modern civilisation on the state of non-renewable natural resources had been published a year earlier in the text The Limits to Growth7. Since the 1970s there has been a gradual convergence of the ‘romantic’ and the ‘technical’ approaches to the natural environment. New objectives were expressed through the principles of the ‘sustainable development’ policy agreed in the programme document Agenda 21 at the 1992 4 Modern tendencies towards homegenisation of the environment are evocatively described by Rem Koolhaas in: Generické město, ‘Zlatý řez’ 2010, No. 32, p. 20 and n. (cf., ibid., Generic City, [in]: ibid., S,M,L,XL, New York: The Monacelli Press, 1995, p. 1248 and n.). 5 At the UNESCO conference in San Francisco in 1969 John McConnell pointed out that it was necessary to raise public awareness of the importance of the natural environment and proposed to hold Earth Day: a global event which would not only celebrate the planet and its life-giving forces but would also be an opportunity to draw public attention to ecological issues. First Earth Day was celebrated a year later, on 22 April 1970. Today it is observed in 192 countries throughout the world. Source: (access: 22 June 2012). The opposition between the ‘romantic’ versus ‘technical’ approaches to the world as regards ecological issues is a relatively frequent topic of discussions. Some authors viewing it from a historical perspective stress two basic trends in ecological architecture in the Western civilisation: Barbora Krejčová refers to them as ‘romanticising’ and ‘technicising’, cf. B. Krejčová, Průkopníci ekologické architektury, ‘Era 21’ 2008, No. 4, p. 54. 7 D.H. Meadows, D.L. Meadows, The Limits to Growth, New York: Universe Books, 1972, Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro8. Currently, ecological issues are (at least in principle) an integral part of almost any project and investment, including architectural ones. Despite this fact, the terminology of these issues has not been standardised yet, and even in academic discourse we can come across the metaphorical expression ‘green architecture’ used for example in the catalogue of the first collective exhibition of ‘ecologically aware’, energy-efficient architecture in the Czech Republic compiled by Petr Kratochvíl9. In the Czech Republic it was only recently that issues related to ecology and the natural environment started to feature prominently in architects’ discussions. In this respect the year 2008 seems crucial as it was then that, apart In the field of architecture and building the document titled Agenda 21 on Sustainable Construction, published in 1999 by an international institution CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction) in response to the general Agenda 21, is of key importance, cf. Agenda 21 pro udržitelnou výstavbu, Praha: ČVUT, 2001 (edition in English available on: cibw82/a21.htm, access: 4 Oct. 2013; Eng. trans. note). 9 Zelená Katalog výstavy, ed. P. Kratochvíl, Praha: GJF, 2008. The exhibition was prepared under research project GA AV IAA800330701. 8 6 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 58 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 58 13-10-30 14:40
  4. 4. Non-governmental LEED (LEED Green Building Rating System, Green Building Council with the seat in Washington13) and BREEAM 10 Especially: P. Suske, Ekologická architektura ve stínu moderny, Brno: ERA, 2008, and the thematic issue of the magazine ‘Era 21’ titled Udržitelnost v architektuře, ‘Era 21’ 2008, No. 4. 11 Zelená architektura..., op. cit., p. 56 and n. 12 The conditions to obtain financial support for the use of energy efficient technologies and renewable energy sources in housing are specified in: Směrnice MŽP” 2009, No. 9. Users can also refer to a manual: M. Báčová, Manuál energeticky úsporné architektury, Praha: Státní fond životního prostředí a česká komora architektů, 2010. 13 (access: 25 June 2012). 14 Photo: ap ateliér mandating agencies (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, a branch office of BRE Global with the seat in Great Britain14) are trying to popularise the idea of ‘Sustainable Building’ in a broader sense. They are current global systems of certification, used to assess public utility buildings. Assessment criteria are varied and not limited to the building’s energy balance but also take into account the project management process, users’ health and comfort (including temperature regulation, access to fresh air, workplace layout and anti-reflective glass windows), accessibility of the site, choice of recyclable and health risk free materials, quality of terrain, water consumption monitoring, waste-water treatment technologies etc. The first building in the Czech Republic that was LEED gold certified is the edifice of ČSOB (Československá obchodní banka) in Radlice, designed by Josef Pleskot and AP Ateliér, an office of one of the major Czech banks situated in a small town, employing over 2500 people. The design of the building whose forcefulness and function is symbolic of modern civilization may not be inconsistent with the principles of sustainable development. The designer, Josef Pleskot, refers to the ethics of ecology, which makes us Photo: ap ateliér from the catalogue and exhibition compiled by Petr Kratochvíl, other publications also came out10. That year the winner of the Grand Prix Obce architektů, a prize awarded by the most prestigious review of contemporary architecture in the Czech Republic, was the edifice of Centrum ekologické výchovy Sluňákov (Sluňákov Centre for Ecological Education, 2007) designed by Roman Brychta, Ondřej Hofmeister, Petr Lešek and Adam Halíř (Projektil architekti). The construction and technological solutions used in the building correspond to the purpose it is to serve. It uses largely energy-efficient solutions: heat recovery in the air conditioning system, solar hot water heating collectors, pellet stoves, cold collectors, a waste water recycling system and a rainwater collection system. Besides these active energy efficiency solutions in the building, there are also passive ones: a glazed southern façade and insulation with an earth bank in the north provide optimal thermoregulation inside the building11. Sluňákov was a kind of showcase for technologies which were soon adopted in housing, mainly owing to financial support under the government programme ‘Zelená úsporám’ agreed in 200912. However, ecological aspects of architecture in it are restricted to energy efficiency, and when possible, obtaining it from renewable energy sources. Photo: ap ateliér Josef Pleskota, AP Ateliér, ČSOB (Československá obchodní banka) building, Radlice, 2008 (access: 25 June 2012). autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 59 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 59 13-10-30 14:40
  5. 5. Photo: Photo: Photo: Oldřich Hozman, ARC Studio, House with an Atrium, Řičany, 2007 careful, sensitive and economic, and brings us also into harmony with nature15. The architect is optimistic about the possibility of combining ecology with technology; he believes that ‘ecology is in a close relationship to technology’16. Despite institutional attempts to standardize and establish clear qualification criteria, ‘green architecture’ is still characterized by a variety of designing strategies. The author of the first Czech publications on ecological architecture and many productions based on its principles, Petr Suske, observes that ‘from the point of view of ecology, globalisation of architecture and its universalisation may be a greater problem than rainforest logging’17. To Suske, an ecological house ‘must respect specific local features, including the climatic conditions in a given region, its cultural context and social needs’18. These views are reflected in his designs where he makes use of experimental technologies and local materials, such as raw brick in the Hliněná basta (Clay Turret) restaurant in Průhonice (1997) or bunches of straw to insulate Dům v kožichu s deštníkem (Sheepskin-Clad House with an Umbrella) in Mlada Boleslavi (2002). Oldřich Hozman19, who is a follower of Rudolph Steiner’s anthroposophy and the so-called Baubiologie, the science of a holistic approach to relations between man and man-made environment which developed P. Suske, op. cit., p. 8. Ibid., p. 120. 19 Cf., e.g., O. Hozman, Cesta k celostnímu utváření prostředí, ‘Zlatý řez’ 2011, No. 34, s. 52 and n.; ibid., Co lze vnímat pod pojmem zdravé prostředí. Víceúrovňové vlastnosti prostoru a materiálů, [in:] Zdravé domy. Sborník mezinárodní konference, Brno: Fakulta architektury, 2009, and n. 17 18 R. Koryčánek, Domy z meziprostoru, Praha: Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář, 2007, p. 6. 16 J. Tichá, J. Pleskot, Rozhovor, ‘Zlatý řez’ 2009 , No. 31, p. 52. 15 in Germany in the 1960s20, pays particular attention to natural materials and their quality. Oldřich Hozman’s productions are mostly detached houses (House with an Atrium, Řičany, 2007, House in Lány, 2012) and reconstructions and adaptations of existing buildings (Maitrea House of Personal Development, Prague, 2008) to energy-efficiency standards of a ‘healthy house’ requiring a wide use of natural materials, such as raw bricks, wood, straw or reed. These materials are an enormous challenge for the present-day architecture. Modernist architectural concepts were apprehensive about using these materials due to their composite nature which made them difficult to standardise and to oversee the building process, and made it difficult to predict how the building will age. In recent years, however, with rising interest in ecological aspects of construction and energy efficiency (as well as equally important cost saving during construction), these materials have started to attract more 20 The principles of Baubiologie were formulated by Hubert Palm, trained as a medical doctor, in the publication Das gesunde Haus. Unser nächster Umweltschutz, Konstanz: OrdoVerlag, 1979. autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 60 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 60 13-10-30 14:40
  6. 6. visitor in any place, which can be understood both literally and metaphorically because the productions portfolio of ‘natural architecture’ contains both Scholzberg vantage towers in Horni Maxov (2006) and Bára in Chrudimi (2009), the New Post Office on Mt Sněžka (2007) and the building of the Municipal Forest Holding in Písek (2011). The history of ecological trends in Czech architecture is short but extremely dynamic. What was considered by the majority of architects in the 1990s as a radical approach stemming from personal beliefs, has since become part of the mainstream, regardless of whether ecological awareness is manifested in a total approach to the natural environment or in the use of advanced technologies. Relations between architecture and ecology may vary in form, and ‘green architecture’ may have various meanings. Should we give priority to energy efficiency of the building itself or try to build it in an energy efficient way with energy efficient materials to begin with? Is it more important to develop new technologies to control building interiors, or rather do without them and return to traditional solutions dating back to the time before the industrial revolution? Should we radically change our lifestyles and our constructions, or merely adapt present-day buildings? This is how the future of ecological architecture is perceived by one of its makers, ‘It is also possible that architecture called «ecological» will not emerge at all, because More on this topic cf. D. Hlaváček, Přírodní materiály: historie nebo naděje?, ‚Zlatý řez‘ 2011, No. 34, pp. 6 and n. 22 Convincing arguments that the Czech architecture has been dominated by the ‘realistic’ and ‘utilitarian’ trends can be found in the publication by Rostislav Švácha Česká architektura a její přísnost, Praha: Prostor, 2004. 23 Cf. I. Fialová, J. Tichá, M. Rajniš, Přirozená architektura / Natural Architecture, ‘Zlatý řez’ 2008, p. 49. 21 English translation by Anna Mirosławska-Olszewska 24 P. Suske, dz. cyt., s. 9. Photo: a. lhotáková Architectural experiment is not traditionally embedded in the Czech culture, and architecture as a conceptual discipline practised side by side with utilitarian productions has practically no history there22. As a result, radical attempts to find the ‘zero point’ in architecture are the more conspicuous, for instance Martin Rajniš’s works completed since the beginning of the 21st century. Rajniš justifies his idea of a revolution in architectural culture by expressing his belief that modern design and building embedded in modernist concepts is by its very nature opposed to the idea of ‘sustainable development’. Rajniš’s designs, revealing how the revolution should be implemented, are often at the confluence of architecture and fine arts. Experience of travelling to places inhabited by communities that remain far apart from the achievements of modern, industrial civilisation, inspired Rajniš to radically reevaluate relations between nature and culture in architecture and to formulate Manifest přirozené architektury (A Manifesto for Natural Architecture)23, which makes use of natural materials, simple technologies, and adapts to the local climatic conditions and topography. To Martin Rajniš a house is a mobile shelter for a human nomad who is just a its principles will become an intrinsic part of reflection on architecture in general’24. Photo: a. lhotáková and more attention. Wooden architecture is particularly notable in this respect21. In the Czech Republic wood has been used mainly in housing and detached houses construction. The scope of this technology is limited by fire regulations and other conditions. Due to availability and flexibility, wood is often used in alternative and experimental designs. Martin Rajniš, Patrik Hoffman, New Post Office on Mt Sněžka, 2007 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 61 13-10-30 14:40