Green architecture does mean more than energy saving architecture. Green architecture is a constantly developing concept, with a broad scope. As Christoph Ingenhoven puts it: “We have realized buildings all over the world according to the highest certification standards. But we aim for a holistic commitment that reaches beyond. The challenge is to top the minimal standards required. What we also have to ask ourselves when building: What’s going on with the spatial psychology? How do people feel in spaces? What can I do so that people feel good, feel safe and don’t get sick? Or can I even use architecture to heal people? All that is meant when we speak of supergreen architecture.
Holistic approach and responsibility
Supergreen, a term that ingenhoven architects has not only coined but copyrighted, is a comprehensive concept. It means an awareness of energy and resources, both in the design, construction and operation and in the realization of the building and its use. It includes the primary and secondary energy levels of the materials used, the equipment and building process and the use of resources over the whole lifetime of a building. It may, for example, mean the use of concrete whose components are comprised almost totally of recyclable material, and in turn, is also later recyclable. Supergreen is also comprehensive as it combines innovative technical quality with an aesthetic ambition, based on clear, flexible and rational layouts and modern, elegant design including pleasant and regenerating interiors. An aesthetically appealing interior design clearly must be counted as a relevant health feature.
The holistic approach is also an expression of a responsible attitude towards problems such as climate change and resource depletion. Supergreen is the answer that architects can and should give to the fact of limited natural resources globally. As buildings in many countries account for about one third of all resources consumed, sustainable building can make a crucial contribution to improving this global situation. In this context it should be mentioned that supergreen architecture means a flexible architectural approach which provides solutions for all regions, climate zones and specific climatic conditions. This holds true for the tropical conditions of Singapore, the desert climate of Riad in Saudi Arabia, the moderate see-climate of Ireland or California and the alpine climate of Southern Bavaria.
To contribute to the solution of worldwide environmental problems is one thing. But the supergreen idea also reflects people’s growing demand for healthy environments in their daily life. This includes healthy work stations, healthy rooms for study and research, healthy hotels and wellness-resorts (of course), healthy shopping malls and transport facilities, where, for example, we wait for the train. Fresh air, a healthy interior climate, brightness, tranquillity, and the view we enjoy from our working station, spaces for communication and exchange, and an appealing interior design, all of these conditions are desirable in every spatial situation of our life. Therefore the concept of supergreen architecture can be said to pursue a thoroughly humanistic goal: It aims at an architecture which meets and addresses the specific needs of human beings.
As today’s demands for a healthy environment grows, especially healthy office environments, it is evident that for a growing number of companies internationally, sustainability is an important part of their corporate identity. Practically all the office buildings which ingenhoven architects have planned over the last 30 years underline these ambitions; each project in some way or another has aimed to raise the level of user comfort. Sometimes even evaporating the traditional distinctions and borders between nature and the world of work, supergreen architecture aims to recreate some of the natural qualities and integrating them within the working environment - stimulating and enhancing in different ways people’s creative potentials.
Supergreen designs are not restricted to the world of work. If one compares the streets and public places of today’s cities with their appearance some 30 or 40 years ago its becomes clear that greenness is one of the most striking difference between then and now. Urban green today offers many new possibilities for the development of our cities, as for example ingenhoven achitects’ proposal for the design for Germany’s most exhibited public place, the “Schlossplatz” in downtown Berlin has proved. The design envisaged a New York-like central park as the green center of the city and a green alternative for the reconstruction of the historic castle. Currently ingenhoven architects are also designing the urban center of the office’s home town of Dusseldorf (Kö-Bogen 2) in a way that integrates green elements in an optically radical new urban concept. All this makes clear: Supergreen is a concept for the development of the cities worldwide and a concept for rooms and spaces within and outside buildings.