These Architectural Wonders Are the Antithesis to the “Greenhouse” Effect

From eco-friendly design to using earth-friendly materials, these green buildings standout with their innovative features that honour the merits of sustainable design.

Gusan Fish Market
Gusan Fish Market in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. Image: Yi-Hsien Lee, Rex Chu.

Gusan Fish Market, Taiwan

C.M. Chao Architects and Planners have transformed Taiwan’s nearly 100-year-old Gusan Fish Market. This contemporary design supports the fishing port, an important economic hub for local transportation in Hamasen’s current prosperous moment.

The building attracts more than 30,000 visitors daily and is specifically constructed to keep pedestrians and cars apart. To avoid danger, passengers on motorcycles and bicycles can board the ferry from the previous ferry station waiting room, while other passengers can board from the new waiting room. This design draws tourists and fish buyers to the Gushan Fish Market. Preserving and recreating historic structures is essential to their renovation. Heat-resistant, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly building materials are used in the project, such as waterproof paint, glued laminated wind-resistant wood, double glazing, insulation panels, paints, and flooring with a monolithic finish. The historical traces are visible because only the waterproofing was improved during the repair, and the architect kept the original brick structure.

Gusan Fish Market
Gusan Fish Market is an important fishing hub. Image: Yi-Hsien Lee, Rex Chu.

The grand structure now affords unobstructed sea views through “fused glass” and “double sandblasted glass wall”, cutting down heat and glare. The 330-metre-long building is based on a transparent box concept. The roof has thermal insulation panels and paint overlays to combat thermal pollution and ventilation. Likewise, for the roof ridge equipped with ventilation windows, the middle section of the building offers an open design, double-layered glass walls for thermal insulation, and sandblasted glass to reduce light transmission, allowing the front and back of the building to be ventilated and heat blocked. The wind-resistant walls are made of recyclable glued laminated timbre.

Gusan Fish Market
The grand structure now affords unobstructed sea views through “fused glass. Image: Yi-Hsien Lee, Rex Chu

The entry building is a century-old brick construction designed in the Dutch style. The design team has improved the building’s appearance while maintaining the original structure so that people can enjoy the market’s history as they enter.

Stepping Park House, Vietnam

Stepping Park House by VTN Architects, Vietnam
A well-illuminated space for plants to grow in Stepping Park House by VTN Architects, Vietnam. Image: Hiroyuki Oki

Sustainable design methods are rapidly advancing in the Asian green movement, and the future of green architecture in the region appears brighter than ever. To contribute to maintaining a livable planet, an increasing number of architectural and design firms in Asia are taking on design projects with a particular emphasis on minimising the environmental impact through sustainable planning, passive design solutions, renewable materials, and contextually appropriate responses. A well-known Asian project that aims to reduce energy consumption and reinvigorate its surroundings is the “Stepping Park House” in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City.

Stepping Park House
Plenty of airflow and natural light floods the space. Image: Hiroyuki Oki

The single-family house is located in a recently developed part of the Ho Chi Minh City area. Being adjacent to a park on its northern side is a rare opportunity in Vietnam’s highly urbanised and densely inhabited cities. Consequently, the design focused on building a house that becomes an extension of its surroundings by bringing park flora into the living room.

The section’s diagonal course crosses a large void that divides the volume into three storeys. In addition to hosting the house’s common areas, which include a ground-level living room with a view of the park and a top-floor family room with a green covering, this stepped space also functions as a climate control system.

A two-pronged approach achieves this by adding natural features like plants and trees to control moisture and lower temperature, favouring air flow, and allowing natural ventilation to enter the house due to the chimney effect. The flora absorbs tropical sunlight and employs evaporation to cool the air during the dry season. The house tries to generate a forest-like atmosphere even though it is indoors.

Shishi-Iwa House, Japan

The sinuous roof of Shishiiwa House, Nagano, Japan by Shigeru Ban.
The sinuous roof of Shishiiwa House, Nagano, Japan designed by Shigeru Ban. Image: Hiroyuki Hirai

Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, winner of the Pritzker Prize, Shishi-Iwa House is a 10-room boutique resort. It was also designed by the social company HDHP GK, which is supported by HDH Capital Management. Shishi-Iwa House is a healing haven that reaffirms the connection between human connection, architecture, and nature.

Shishiiwa House
The property plotted its design around existing trees without removing them. Image: Hiroyuki Hirai

Shishi-Iwa House is designed to embody the concept of social hospitality, distinguishing the establishment from conventional hotel stays. The retreat’s goal is to provide guests with a space for introspection and energy restoration, which will inspire them to think creatively. The two-storey hideaway has a distinctive architectural design, with a smooth, curved shape and an elongating roof that mimics the movement of the forest. Ban created a novel architectural strategy that has never been applied to hotel development to preserve as many of the property’s existing trees as possible.

Shishi-Iwa House
An outdoor area at Shishi-Iwa House. Image: Hiroyuki Hirai

“For this project, I was interested in developing a distinct design language befitting to its beautiful location. Everything from the construction to the furniture and interior detailing was carefully planned and considered to achieve a bespoke atmosphere. Blending the interior and exterior spaces, we created unique openings in the guest rooms and social areas to allow the best views of the garden and encourage outdoor access. Timber was our material of choice for the design, which is used to heighten the sense of warmth and coherence throughout the boutique retreat.” says Shigeru Ban, architect of Shishi-Iwa House.

Each guest room on the property is a self-contained haven of meditation, and the facility’s smooth flow of areas, each with a distinct humanistic quality, encourages both private and social encounters. While rooms on the top floors have private balconies, a unique feature of Shishi-Iwa House, guest rooms on the lower floor open out to a private garden, providing exclusive outdoor access.

Valley Expansion House, Mexico

Valley Expansion House
The timber framework and gabled roofs of Valley Expansion House, Mexico. Photographs: Camila Cossio.

Situated in Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico, the “Ampliación Valle” project is notable for its original 1965 French-style chalet house, which is located in a natural setting with a view of a golf course. The old home is renowned for its circular columns, timber framework, and gabled roofs.

When a couple decided to retire to Valle de Bravo, they needed to enlarge the house. They needed an accessible single-story apartment linked to the old house. The 100 square metre apartment was planned on a wooden platform with circular steel columns for support, enabling easy integration with the house’s communal areas without needing stairs.

Valley Expansion House
The high gabled roofs keeps the house cool without the need for air-conditioning. Photographs: Camila Cossio.

The well-planned apartment has a walk-in closet, a full bathroom, a kitchenette, a laundry room, a work-study, and a bedroom with a view of the field. The retired couple’s comfort was the primary focus of the bathroom and dressing room design, which included an inner courtyard for natural lighting and ventilation and bringing the outdoors into the bedroom.

The refurbishment’s combination of steel and wood allowed for a seamless connection between the home’s modern and traditional design aspects. The wooden ceiling and floors produce a cosy and inviting ambience. Large windows, round columns, and gabled roofs were kept to help blend the interior and outdoor spaces.

Valley Expansion House
A dreamy bedroom that looks out to well-preserved verdant surroundings. Photographs: Camila Cossio.

Expansive windows with views of the golf course increased brightness and offered a breathtaking perspective of the surroundings, contributing significantly to the renovation’s use of natural light.

Along with the extension, the house’s original kitchen was renovated and connected to the dining area, producing a larger, more practical space with more natural light.

In conclusion, the Valle de Bravo restoration effectively fulfilled the customers’ expectations by providing them with a cosy and well-integrated apartment that pays homage to the original house while incorporating modern elements that preserve the surrounding natural surroundings.

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