As Europe gears toward becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the EU has been focusing on reinventing most of its architecture to fit the direction of its climate efforts.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, called for a new “European Bauhaus movement,” which sparked the development of what the west recognize today as modern architecture. However, this same advancement also became the symbol of the industrial world that is hurting the world.
So, Bloomberg Green commissioned three brilliant architects to pick a place in Europe and design a single-family home that will fit its climate and make it yield more energy than it uses.
One of the appointed is Koichi Takada. He envisioned a dwelling that reflected the “form follows nature” design philosophy, so he created the Sunflower House for the region of Umbria in Italy. This location is known for its fields full of sunflowers and rolling farmland. However, heatwaves in this area are also increasing in intensity and frequency.
Takada gave it that name because, like the distinct yellow flower, this house turns its head to face the sun to gather solar energy.
“Modernism was based on a static style—a combination of steel, glass, and concrete that I call dead materials. What we are looking at in the 21st century is a shift from industrial to natural. It’s about celebrating the living material and the living architecture,” Takada said.
The Sunflower House is packed with environment-friendly features. It is elevated from the ground to lessen its interference with the ground so that the earth has room for other activities. Its roof has solar panels that rotate on sensors to collect solar energy.
The disk atop the structure rotates around a central stem to follow the sun, helping it produce up to 40% more energy than static panels. Excess energy then goes to the grid or gets stored in battery “seeds.”
The Sunflower House can also collect rainwater to be used for irrigation and flushing toilets. The perimeter around the roof shades the windows beneath and improves ventilation, while the secondary rotating mechanism over the glass walls protects the building from solar radiation.
Each floor of the Sunflower House hosts a two or three-bedroom apartment, and each structure can be as high as three stories.
“Designers and architects talk about drawing inspiration from nature in an aesthetic sense but we must go much deeper than that,” Takada said. “It’s not just about making a building look natural, it’s about creating positive environmental change in the homes we live in, the neighborhoods we work and play in, and ultimately the planet we are privileged to inhabit.”
Takada believes that “climate change must be a catalyst for positive change, beginning with our humble homes.”
“For the future of the planet we must shift from industrial to natural. We need a kinetic, living architecture that respects the environment while enhancing the wellbeing of the humans who inhabit it,” he said.
Europe is well on its way to a greener future, and we hope the rest of the world can follow.
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