The concept of sustainability is by no means new; some historians argue that it goes back centuries, and some anthropologists would certainly assert that the fundamental precepts of several world cultures make them more amenable to a sustainable, eco-conscious lifestyle.
With that said, the effect of two world wars, a massively expanding global population, and the acceleration of large, environmentally destructive industrial processes, began to shine a spotlight on the need to address non-sustainable practices in the built environment. A landmark work came in the 1970s – Fritz Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful”.
Sustainability, Architecture and Gauteng
For architects here in Gauteng, in the 2020s, sustainability is a core concern, and rightfully so. With climate change now showing its teeth in extraordinary climate events the world over, our province hasn’t escaped the quagmire.
Well informed Gauteng based architects know, for example, that Pretoria’s climate will resemble that of Upington’s by 2050 – or sooner. They will also tell you, correctly, that South Africa’s electricity is in large part produced by burning immense amounts of CO2 producing coal. Every built structure that can avoid using power from our national grid is a boon to the well-being of the environment.
Of course, in terms of power generation, the excessive amounts of greenhouse gases aren’t the only negative side effect. Coal-powered electricity generation requires the use of water: whereas the purified water used to create superheated steam to drive large turbines is recycled, much of the water used in a powerplant’s cooling towers is lost.
More Needs to be Done
The above paragraphs may sound terribly ominous, but, unfortunately, they don’t quite go far enough in articulating just how much harm is being done. For architects in South Africa’s most densely populated province, these issues are no mere curiosities. To boot, Gauteng is also Africa’s financial and industrial powerhouse, which makes the problem only more acute.
Architects in Gauteng have been issued a challenge, and many are responding with vigour.
JK Designs champion the sustainable ethos at every turn, and the drive towards creating an urban landscape that reflects this ethos can be seen in many of the firm’s outstanding designs.
In a 2020 interview for Habitat Magazine, JK Designs director, Johann Koch, notes:
“The building industry globally has the incredible privilege of being able to make a monumental impact at grassroots level. Just imagine if every new building that was to be developed was fully sustainable, the sheer difference it would make to the survival of our planet. However, SA does not have the incentives in place for trying to save the earth, for clients to want to spend the substantial additional cost of going the green route. This needs to be addressed.”
Every Bit Counts
As a Gauteng based architectural practice, JK Designs is very aware of how much more can be done to reduce the undesirable amounts of emissions produced in the province. In addition to passive design elements like a building’s orientation on-site, the use of proper insulation, natural (ventilated) cooling, etc., the firm also strongly favours sourcing materials in a sustainable manner to ensure that embodied energy remains low. When it comes to sustainable architecture, every little bit of energy saved is a win.
Get in Touch For those interested in finding architects in Gauteng with the expertise and knowledge needed to put the sustainable ethos into practice, feel free to contact JK Designs to start a friendly, no-obligations conversation