By Imogen Goulding
Everyone has a key interest that decides their degree — for myself, I knew I was heading down the road of Language and Linguistics, while, for others, it might be Medicine of sorts, History, Economics, you name it. But, in spite of its hugely positive and powerful part to play in the realisation of sustainable housing, Architectural Engineering is one degree I feel doesn’t get the airtime it deserves.
Around the globe, there’s an increasing emphasis on improving sustainability and enforcing a greener way of living. In order to execute blocks of buildings made from ethically-sourced, eco-friendly materials and manufacture green spaces in fast-moving urban centres, architects with their pencils on the pulse are at the forefront.
This is something I’m becoming more and more familiar with, while absorbing information my brother shares during his studies in this field at the University of Leeds. I’ve been shown mocked-up drawings of buildings embellished with greenery, bedecked with light-conducting glass and erected using raw materials. It’s fascinating.
While the need has arisen among architects to design sustainable buildings, so too has the ability and opportunity to construct them from different materials. In recent years, there’s been an increase in timber usage over and above alternatives such as steel, which has made green infrastructure not just an easy possibility, but a tangible reality. This has certainly helped the industry work to a new, eco-friendly goal that is fast approaching the norm.
I don’t know about you, but while we’ve been in lockdown and generally navigating this pandemic, I’ve been monitoring news articles about the positive impact on the environment. Nature really seems to be popping, and these vibrant scenes are almost a consolatory thanks that we should embrace while we can. As a nod to this in future, perhaps it’s up to architectural engineers and designers to build only sustainably, to preserve what’s left of our earth’s resources?
Plenty of people have been, where possible and when the mood takes them, modifying their homes during lockdown, too. Painting walls, making shelving units, renovating sheds, the list goes on. But that means people are more than willing to use the resources they have to make changes to their living quarters. Sure, that might initially be to stem boredom, but it’ll make people think twice about buying things for their homes when they could make them instead. It’s all helping the sustainability effort.
What’s more, the boom in indoor plant purchases over the past couple of years — not just at present — shows that there’s a desire to ‘be greener’. Through designing homes and structures ecologically, architectural engineers can ensure a key aspect of responsible building. Whether that’s through green spaces tacked onto exteriors or by creating lush rooftop gardens, architects are able to produce eco-friendly plans and elevations that not only help the environment, but look pretty edgy, too.
So, the next time you marvel at the nature around you, buy a house plant or even just put out your recycling, remember that there’s so much more at play environmentally — and there’s a lot we can be doing to craft a greener future. All these sustainable living choices you’re making personally will be gradually aiding planet. But, in the bigger picture, it’s our developing architectural engineers that are paving the way to improving the environment on an even larger scale.