More than 50 Next Generation prize-winners from the 4th Awards competition met in New York to exchange ideas about the future of sustainable construction. Projects and teams represented Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.
These leading young thinkers from architecture, engineering and related disciplines were grouped into three Labs based on the scale of their 24 projects: small, medium, and large (S, M, L). Their visions of sustainable design included carbon-neutral building materials, architectural interventions inspired by biomimicry, social improvement projects, and sustainable urban development.
Each team shared their project in a condensed 5-minute presentation, followed by a discussion on the future of sustainability moderated by internationally renowned expert Lab Operators. The three Labs then came together to present and discuss their findings. Interestingly, across all scales each of the groups emphasized the roles of culture, place, and communication within future developments of sustainability.
To compliment the Lab workshops, two of the designers of Global Awards winners presented their projects. In the morning, Hilary Sample of MOS Architects (New York) introduced the Children’s Ziggurat, a locally adapted orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal and Global Award Finalist 2015. In the afternoon, Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group (New York/Copenhagen) and Matthjis Bouw from One Architecture (Amsterdam) presented the Global Bronze Award 2015 winning project, The Dryline, Urban Flood Protection Infrastructure in Manhattan.
The S-Lab, moderated by architects Gloria Lee (Los Angeles) and Frano Violich (Boston), developed twelve points of sustainable design. They focused on basic elements as the building blocks of more complex works, summarized as “S has the power”.
The M-Lab was led by architecture school Dean Marilyne Anderson (EPFL Lausanne) and Reed Kroloff (former director, Cranbrook Academy of Art). The group created a complex network of sustainable criteria, forming a critique of contemporary “blueprint” development.
The L-Lab, steered by architect Sarah Graham (Los Angeles) and policy director Laurie Kerr (Urban Green Council, New York), underscored the roles of politics, cultural limitations and possibilities, and education within future sustainable development.
The panel discussion, moderated by Professor of Architecture & Design Marc Angélil (ETH Zurich), noted the relative absence of technology, materials, and environment within the group dialog. None of these, however, were lacking within the projects themselves, which proposed adaptive re-use, advanced environmental technologies, inventive site strategies, social innovations, and sophisticated aesthetics. The “Next Generation” participants appeared to consider these criteria as given, preferring to discuss the importance of social interaction and cultural appropriateness. The panel concluded, appropriately enough, on the importance of aesthetics within sustainable design and construction.