How Modern Residential Architecture Supports Sustainable Development in South Africa

Although the architect cannot do much in terms of national sustainable development planning, as such is beyond the scope of the architecture’s work and expertise, the architect, nevertheless, plays an important role in residential and commercial building designs in support of sustainable development.

In essence, modern architecture is focussed on consciously maximising the potential of passive features to reduce energy usage. The modern architect also makes provision for the use of sustainable materials to reduce the impact of development on the environment.

The idea behind sustainable development is to minimise the negative effects of our actions and decisions on the environment and create opportunities for the generations to come. Energy efficiency over the entire lifecycle of a building is thus an important consideration in architecture.

The architect can design a building or range of buildings to minimise the visual effect on the environment and ensure optimal efficiency in energy usage through design and implementation of features, such as double-glazed windows for good insulation.

Using daylight for heating of interiors and creating optimal ventilation for increased oxygen supply to the building without the use of technology-based artificial sources of energy is also important.

Maximising on passive design features includes designing of rooms and windows for the best usage of daylight. The rooms are arranged in such a way as to ensure that more light streams into the interior during the daytime. In this way, the need for additional lights during the day to provide illumination of spaces is eliminated.

Double glazing and other methods for the reduction of energy loss are applied in modern architecture to ensure that sustainable development goals can be reached. Buildings that are well insulated are more energy efficient. Energy recycling technologies are embedded in building designs to transform, for instance, stale air into fresh usable air. Energy recapturing is also an important element in modern eco-friendly architecture.

Harnessing energy from the sun is promoted through photovoltaic technology, and many architects pay attention to thermal mass for heat retention.

Shade can be used to reduce the build-up of heat in buildings during the hot summer months. Designs that make provision for building orientation to maximise on shade potential, as well as features such as awnings and blinds, are incorporated in architectural strategies for sustainable development.

The eco-friendly architects often incorporate features such as skylights, trees planted in front of windows, and louvre installations for heat control in their designs.

In a country such as South Africa where summers are hot, it is important to use passive solar designs for cooling of the buildings. Building designs include features to channel winds from nearby water sources and allow cooler moist air to stream into the buildings. Brick is used because it has excellent thermal mass to retain the cooler temperature from the night throughout the warmer daytime.

The challenge is also to ensure warm interiors during the cold winter months in South Africa. Heat recapturing features are used to ensure optimal warmth in the buildings, without having to heavily rely on artificial methods for heat generation.

Become part of the generation that cares about the future. Make use of architects focussed on designs for sustainable development. Call on our team of architects for residential, industrial, and commercial designs in support of sustainability.

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