Ecological authenticity of architecture

Lukáš Šíp


Ecological architecture, as a relevant attitude towards fundamental principles of architectural design, is still taking shape; the essence and outward forms of this phenomenon are being sought worldwide. For ecological architecture, are typical expression and conceptual subjectivity. That is why there has been a wide spectrum of architectural “genres” and movements associated with this concept; from neo-vernacular and solar to organic or bionic architecture. Experience tells us that when we add any adjective to the word “architecture”, the adjective will then represent some compilation of the external attributes characteristic for this kind of architecture. Nowadays it is relatively simple to identify authentic gothic, renaissance or modern architecture. What kind of form apparatus or set of external attributes is unique to the architecture described as “ecological”? Is it possible to differentiate authentically ecological architecture? Could this lead to the formation of a new aesthetic paradigm in architecture?

The primary objective of this article is to illustrate the basic characteristics of a new aesthetical paradigm in architecture by searching for, identifying and analyzing its attributes – those which are already embodied in the contemporary ecological architecture. The main tool for achieving this goal is the formulation of a working hypothesis of the ecological authenticity of architecture, which I have tried to verify by argumentation. The creation of this hypothesis has been evoked by the current discussion about ecological architecture. Its formulation is a result of a logical procedure. In this case we consider logic as a science of correct reasoning. Ecologically sustainable building could have a very specific architectural expression, which could be characterized as genuinely ecological.

Resulting from the research is a set of arguments which support the hypothesis claiming that an ecologically authentic look of architecture does exist. If the argumentation is verified, then this argument will become one of the attributes of ecologically authentic architecture. I have identified the following attributes:

  • Argument / Attribute 01 – Compactness
  • Argument / Attribute 02 – Horizontality
  • Argument / Attribute 03 – Natural materials
  • Intermezzo A – Hi-tech versus low-tech architectural expression
  • Argument / Attribute 04 – Dominating south glazing
  • Argument / Attribute 05 – Optimization of glass surfaces
  • Argument / Attribute 06 – Glass surface shielding
  • Argument / Attribute 07 – Independent constructions in front of façades
  • Intermezzo B – Light-weight versus massive construction
  • Argument / Attribute 08 – Effective disposition
  • Argument / Attribute 09 – Thermal zoning
  • Argument / Attribute 10 – Energy interspaces
  • Intermezzo C – References to valid architectural typology
  • Argument / Attribute 11 – Straight single-arm staircase
  • Intermezzo D – Mechanical, electrical and plumbing plans (MEP)
  • Argument / Attribute 12 – Solar systems integration
  • Argument / Attribute 13 – Hidden heating system

Some important notes for the conclusion:

The hypothesis of the ecological authenticity of architecture is highly probable. The expression apparatus of ecological architecture consists of a number of identified attributes, and the mutual relations between them. A new aesthetical paradigm within the context of authentically ecological architecture has not emerged as yet.

Keywords: architecture, sustainability, authenticity, ecology, look