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To commemorate Earth Day, which is being celebrated throughout the world today, it is befitting to talk about green architecture, a field that is growing rapidly given that the planet’s natural resources are fast depleting in the name of progress.

A significant aspect of ‘green’ – or eco-architecture – is the utilisation of recyclable and energy-efficient fittings. These include insulated double walls and roofs and recessed and double glazed windows. Another way to conserve natural resources is by using sustainable building material. For instance, in developed markets, wood from sustainable forests is now increasingly used for construction purposes.

Ken Yeang, the acclaimed architect, ecologist and writer, is known as the ‘father of green architecture’. During a career spanning over 40 years, Yeang has been the recipient of a host of architectural and ecological awards for designing several high-tech and eco-friendly buildings. These include The Human Research Institute and Menara Mesiniaga (Malaysia) and Solaris (Singapore) which is illustrated above. His current projects include Spire Edge (India) and the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Extension (London).

In 2008, The Guardian chose Yeang as one of “The 50 People Who Could Save The Planet” stating: “Yeang uses walls of plants, photo voltaics [solar panels], scallop-shaped sunshades, advanced ventilation and whatever he can to collect water and breezes. The idea is to make buildings run as complete ecosystems with little external energy supply. He’s not there yet, but the possibility of the green skyscraper is developing fast as ecological imperatives filter into the consciousness of the startlingly backward world of international architecture.”

It is reassuring that in Pakistan too clients are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of green architecture; many partially green buildings have been built and more are in the pipeline.

However, architects must remember Yeang’s statement which sums up the need for pleasing aesthetics: “Good architecture is green architecture, but green architecture isn’t necessarily good architecture.”

– Adil Kerai
The writer is architect and partner, Habib Fida Ali Architects.

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 22, 2012.