Urban Design and Sustainable Materials
City design is a complex and dynamic field that attempts to shape the material and social environment in which we live, work, and play. As our cities continue to grow and develop, there is an increasing need to focus on sustainable materials and practices to mitigate the negative impact of urbanization on our environment and natural resources.
One promising area in sustainable urban design is the use of clean materials and resource reuse. By incorporating these principles into our city planning and design processes, we can create a more resilient and sustainable urban landscape.
An inspiring example of this approach is the “Growing Architecture” project, which uses local soil and plant roots as building materials. Developed by architects at an ecologically oriented design collaborative, the project demonstrates how natural materials can be used to create beautiful and functional urban spaces.
(Growing buildings being printed) （sprouting wall）
In this project, architects 3D printed living materials that would sprout, bloom, wither, produce new materials, and then return to the soil. The robot used a mixture of soil and seeds as building materials, layer by layer 3D printing the mixture to execute a digitally designed structure. Upon completion, the sustainable structure adapts to its own life – seeds germinate and turn the earthen wall into a green facade, while roots take hold inside the wall and form durable building materials.
The project explores the possibility of organic architecture in the face of global ecological crisis. As industrial and non-local resource use continues to increase, “building a building” proposes the use of primitive natural materials such as local soil and roots as structural elements to replace unsustainable buildings made of concrete and steel.
In my homeland, the construction of the Ningbo Museum also uses local traditional craftsmanship and local materials (combination of soil and stone materials with plants). Designed by Wang Shu, the first Chinese winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the museum’s architectural form is based on the design concept of mountains, water, and the ocean. The roof and walls are composed of Ming and Qing bricks collected from folk sources, and bamboo molds are used to cast concrete walls for decoration, highlighting the characteristics of Jiangnan folk houses. Meanwhile, the building is surrounded by pools of water, representing the role of the ocean in Ningbo’s history. This shows how traditional building techniques can be transformed into sustainable architecture. The use of local materials and plant roots reduces the building’s carbon footprint and provides a connection to the local environment. Additionally, this building method is affordable and can provide employment opportunities for local communities. Therefore, incorporating sustainable materials and building techniques into city design to reduce the urban impact on the environment is crucial.
In conclusion, sustainable materials play a crucial role in the future of city design. From reducing waste and pollution to promoting local economies, clean materials offer a range of benefits that traditional materials cannot match. The “Growing Architecture” project, which uses local soil and tree roots as building materials, is just one example of how we can use sustainable materials to create beautiful, functional, and environmentally friendly structures. As we look to the future, we must continue to prioritize sustainable materials and resource reuse in city design.