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Sustainable architecture according to APA Wojciechowski

21 of February '20

Should we stop building? In the face of climate change, how can we realistically influence a shift in the way we design and build? How to influence the awareness of investors? Architects from the APA Wojciechowski studio have developed five principles to guide their work.

Sustainable architecture
according to APA Wojciechowski

According to architecture critic Aaron Betsky,building is an act of violence - an act of violence on the environment. We feel more and more responsibility, investor awareness is increasing, but given that the construction industry is responsible for 28 percent of all CO2 emissions, we should actually stop building. More than 6 billion square meters of new buildings are built every year. That's about 1.2 million buildings of 5,000 square meters.

In an ideal world, this is what we should do - stop building! This should apply to all architects. However, the reality is different. It would be difficult for us to sincerely preach refraining from building, especially since we are involved in commercial architecture, it would be equivalent to closing our business. So, how can we realistically affect a change in the way we design and build? How do we go beyond a Facebook overlay with the hashtag #architekcidlaklimat with our actions? What can we realistically do?

In our office, we have long been looking for solutions that would allow us to act with sustainability in mind, especially since we very often design buildings with major developers and have a real impact on the end result. As a result, a few years ago we were able to move from idea to deed and incorporate actions for sustainable architecture into the DNA of our company. In APA GREEN, we explain how we implement the postulates of sustainable architecture in our projects.

How to design in the spirit of zero waste? How to influence the awareness of investors? We do not know the answers to most of the problems of the modern world, but we try to know them, to have a real impact on our environment and to share this knowledge with other architects. That's why we have developed five principles in our company to ensure that the violence Betsky writes about will have as little impact as possible.

let's design beautifully

Buildings will last as long as possible when they are more than construction, and become architecture. Every architect dreams of having his or her building listed in the Register of Historic Places: then we will harness bureaucracy to make it last. Well, and we will satisfy our egos... We extend the banal concept of beauty to such issues as functionality - because a beautiful building is a well-designed building. Beauty for us is timelessness - we strive to ensure that buildings do not follow aesthetic fads, but are timeless. We elaborate on this issue in the next section.

schody w części
retailu Hotelu Europejskiego, Warszawa

Stairs in the retail section of the Hotel Europejski, Warsaw.

photo: Rafał Kłos, Ignacy Matuszewski

let's design timelessly

We do not design according to the latest fashion in order to arouse the admiration of the environment and critics. There doesn't always have to be an icon, but there always has to be a timeless building, made of non-aging or easily renewable materials. We look for less harmful substitutes and try to convince investors to use them. A building must survive the age of 15-20 years, when it is no longer young, fresh, and not yet vintage. To put it aphoristically: MAKE A CLASSIC NOT A BESTSELLER.

White Square Office
Center, Moskwa

White Square Office Center, Moscow

© APA Wojciechowski Architects

let's design buildings open to the future

Buildings will last if they are flexible enough to "lift" the future. The future is unpredictable: so we take into account the unpredictable. The form of a building must not be closed, but open to permanent changes, to short-term forms, to radical spatial transformations. To what Aaron Betsky calls reinventing the buildings: rethinking the buildings. This applies to the architectural and urban scale. Let's not impose bureaucratic corsets: rigid zoning plans or strict conservation doctrine. The Sigismund Chapel would not have been built if there had been a conservationist at the Jagiellonian court. Let's not even be afraid of radical changes in function. Let's not design to press, without reserves, for very specific needs.

Unit City, Kijów

Unit City, Kyiv

© APA Wojciechowski Architects

Let's design on a sound commercial basis

Let's not stigmatize the division between commercial and non-commercial architecture. An architect is a profession of social responsibility, but this does not preclude the creation of profit-oriented buildings. Let's not underestimate the commercial basis of architecture. Buildings on a healthy commercial basis are full of life, and companies generally know the needs of users. Something commercially healthy will last longer.

ogród na dachu
Galerii Północnej, Warszawa

The garden on the roof of Galeria Północna, Warsaw

photo: Rafal Klos

let's design for green

This point comes last, which doesn't mean it's unimportant. Green technologies are technological mitigations to the violence of building construction. They are now a matter of course, the ABC and sine qua non of design. Clearly, green, certified, healthy, low-cost buildings will be sought after, valuable and therefore sustainable. Durable doesn't always mean forever. A building can't always be reinvented. Thinking toward circularity, about making the materials used to construct a building into valuable raw materials rather than troublesome waste, is the basis of green design. In our studio we talk to the investor, we always make an attempt to convince him, to use more ecological substitutes.

biurowiec GetResponse,

GetResponse office building, Gdansk

© APA Wojciechowski Architekci

It is important to remember that a building is not a value in itself. It creates space - inside and out - that generates values and social interactions: in a word, life. A building is worth as much as that life. And it will last if there is life in it.

APA Wojciechowski

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