&Healthier, Smarter Materials The construction of houses and multifamily buildings is evolving. Designers and architects are seeking to make buildings that are weather-resilient, sustainable, safer, and primed for the latest technology. Well buildings.
Green buildings that steer clear of harmful paints and
adhesives and highlight water conservation are well-regarded,
but the newer focus is on design that enhances the quality
of life for occupants. “Biophilic” planning involves placing
windows to showcase outdoor greenery and doors that
strive for seamlessness between the great outdoors and a
home’s interior. An emphasis on natural light, along with LEDs
controlled by dimmers and in colors that can be changed for
nighttime and gray days, simulates circadian rhythms in the
body to improve sleep patterns, another boon for healthfulness.
Upcoming software will harvest daylight to provide more natural
light since some multifamily building codes dictate smaller glass
expanses and restrict certain lightbulb types, says sustainability
consultant Brian Lomel, cochair of the Urban Land Institute’s
South Florida Building Healthy Places Committee. In areas with
small yards, pocket gardens are popular, and more rooftops
will be planted on multifamily buildings and townhouses. And
look for more landscapes with trees featuring interesting
branch structures, even without blooms or berries, says Betsy
Williamson with Williamson Chong Architects in Toronto.
Whether it’s due to the financial burden or the lengthy time commitment of tending to yards and repairs, consumers are eager
for materials and systems that are more durable and require less
maintenance than in the past. “Many boomers and their o;spring
are less inclined to mow lawns and perform other tasks,” says architect Duo Dickinson, author of Staying Put (The Taunton Press,
2011). At Aventura ParkSquare, realistic-looking artificial turf will
be installed, which will help conserve water. Other systems and
materials there will need to be replaced less often.
Individuals like mason and builder Clay Chapman of Atlanta’s
Hope for Architecture also focus on materials with greater longevity, which is influencing the thinking of both design professionals
and home owners. “Hand-built brick walls are labor-intensive but
will last for centuries rather than for just one home owner,” he
says. Architect Jon Handley of Pulltab in New York concurs. “The
best way to be green is to build with quality that lasts,” he says.
Weather and energy.
Communities on the forefront of energy and weather e;ciency
are setting guidelines for better waterproofing and strategically
placed insulation. “The goal is to go beyond what’s required,
not use energy at all and get o; the grid,” says Philadelphia
developer Nino Cutrufello. Going the energy-e;cient route can
be less costly than adding features such as solar panels and
geothermal heating, he says. Structures are also being better
designed to withstand severe weather. Aventura ParkSquare,
outside Miami, is being designed to include well-insulated
windows that block harmful ultraviolet rays, says principal
Victor Ballestas. In parts of California where fires have raged,
noncombustible concrete tiles, brick, and composites that
imitate wood are favored, says New York architect Chris Garvin.
Encouraging healthy living goes beyond including bicycle
racks and gyms in multifamily buildings, Lomel says. To build
Aventura ParkSquare, a community within a community, its
developer Integra Investments heeded ideas from “Fit City
Miami,” a collaborative e;ort with ULI to incorporate The
American Institute of Architects’ “Active Design” guidelines.
Results at the condominium development are retail options
such as a boot camp and yoga studio, restaurants with rooftop
gardens for growing produce, medical o;ces, an assisted-living
facility, wider sidewalks, and a 131-unit condo building with
glass-enclosed stairways to encourage walking rather than
riding in enclosed elevators, says Ballestas. ULI’s South Florida
group will showcase the project as a case study for healthy-living initiatives, Lomel says.
Managing power needs will continue to be huge as more home
owners seek to stay connected 24/7. Forward-thinking techies
will develop more robust wireless hubs to provide power from
a central source and make it easier and less costly to control
everything from one app on a smart phone, says Garvin.
Already, developers like Washington, D.C.’s E YA are bringing on
board an automation consultant.