CRA’s B Austin Community Project receives 2018 Austin Green Award

We’re both humbled and honored that our B Austin Community Project received a 2018 Austin Green Award at last week’s Awards Celebration. Now in its third year, the Austin Green Awards recognizes inspirational green building, landscape, and infrastructure projects in Central Texas. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and we also wanted to thank all our team members for their hard work on this project including:

Arch Consulting (Structural Engineering), DBR (Mechanical Engineering), Water Renu (Graywater Design and Installation), Speir Innovations (Solar), Ben Goins with BPG Construction (Construction Management) and most importantly to our amazing clients, Will, Janice and Gray Godwin of B Austin Communities.

See more about this inspiring sustainable development on our website link below:  B Austin Community Portfolio Link

2018 Austin Green Awardees

 

The Natural Vernacular

Thermal Mass
The vernacular architecture of NM takes advantage of the thermal mass of adobe, collecting the heat from the sun in the day to re-radiate it at night.

In an academic sense, the notion of a vernacular architecture has commonly been derived from an idiomatic, regionally specific reading of building practices and habitation.  Broadening this reading of the vernacular, the performative characteristics of local species and ecosystems also provide a compelling indigenous ‘language’, a Natural Vernacular, which can be deployed to challenge the existing, sometimes staid design pedagogies around sustainable design.

Vernacular design seeks to continue a conversation about local building practices in a given site.  Natural Vernacular design takes that notion a step further, the local built environment is studied as well as the survival mechanisms of the local flora and fauna.  Observations of biological evolutions can give a designer more insight into creating a truly sustainable design in situ.

Thermal Mass
Looking to solve the same problem and working with the same available materials, Swallows form their homes using mud and straw

We have looked at this way of designing previously in research studios we have taught centered around biomimicry.    In biomimicry nature is mined for patterns of survival, performative characteristics.  The idea of a Natural Vernacular looks at both the strategies of the local built environment, or built vernacular while cross referencing natural evolutionary performances.

By researching both the biological responses to a problem and indigenous vernacular solutions, inspiration can be found to make a project more sustainable and potentially much more elegant as well.

Biomimicry: Solutions for the Built Environment

In 2005 we first taught a studio about biomimicry and architecture at the University of New Mexico school of Architecture we taught a graduate course again in 2008 at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture titled:  Investigations in Performative Biomimicry.  Both studios yielded very interesting results.  The lens of biomimicry can yield sustainable outcomes in the field of Architecture.   The general idea is if you look at anything in nature that is native to a particular location you can learn its survival techniques for that specific climate and you can mimic them architecturally to create something that is more harmonious in a given local – giving you ideas you might not have thought of otherwise.

Sunflowers track the sun to maximize solar gain

The notion of a vernacular architecture has commonly been derived from an idiomatic, regionally specific reading of building practices and habitation.  Broadening this reading of the vernacular, the performative characteristics of local species and ecosystems also provide a compelling indigenous ‘language’, a Natural Vernacular, which can be deployed to challenge the existing, sometimes staid design pedagogies around sustainable design.  In our courses, students explored this architectural potential, a design logic grounded in regional natural systems research and yielded very innovative results.

Horny Toads are covered with black horns, allowing them to warm up quicker in the winter due to the increased surface area and dark coloring.

Nature was mined for its Performative, rather than simply formal, characteristics and how they might inspire a broader range of systemic thinking in architecture.  We posited that the patterns and principles of nature represent not just evolutionary outcomes but fundamental strategies for the dynamic responsive systems of life.  To that end, transpositions from nature to architecture had to operate above the level of mere form making, as the intent of the studios was to marry pattern with operative method.

To follow up on this post Ed Richardson served as a panelist at SXSW Eco this year where the discussion focused on topics of Biomimicry and design the presentation can be found here.  Also, additional blog posts along these lines can be found here.

Click here to see an article written about these studios.