At a Green Architecture and Design Conference

A Green Architecture and Design Conference took place recently in the International city of Jerusalem, Israel. It was very much a conference with an International flavour – of the dozen speakers, 3 were British green architects, several were from America, a few were from other European countries such as Germany and Holland, and the conference chairman, the highly influential architect of skyscrapers and tall buildings worldwide Ken Yeang, is originally Malaysian, with offices of his architectural practise in both London and Singapore.

There were approximately 1,000 participants, with a good chunk of these being architecture students from the several architecture courses run in schools and universities around the country. There were also several participants from around the world, who were able to attend the conference through attaining scholarships, or by being able to combine attendance with other business in the country.

The conference took place over 3 days, and was held at a purpose built conference centre on the edge of the city. While the conference centre is several years old, and can not claim to be a green building in terms of the focus of the conference, it was a good space to hold such a large and diverse event.

Having in-house catering facilities, several big hall and event spaces, all of which can be adjusted with the use of flexible wall systems, and a large lobby, security and underground parking, the venue was accessible for all the speakers, organisers and participants.

The Conference Speakers

Among the highly influential British green architects were Michael Pawlyn and David Lloyd Jones. Pawlyn worked for many years for Nicholas Grimshaw, one of the most known and respected architects in the UK, and was responsible for designing the biomes at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Pawlyn now heads his own firm, called Exploration, which has a focus on learning from the natural world, and transferring themes and patterns from the natural sphere into the design of both buildings and products, with an emphasis on energy reduction and conservation. Several of his latest projects particularly concentrate on energy generation. One of the key themes in Pawlyn’s lecture and workshop at the conference was in taking a ‘zero carbon’ approach to building design and construction.

Similar themes came up in the keynote address and workshop given by David Lloyd Jones. He is also a prominent UK architect who has specialised in designing and building sustainable schools across the UK. In his illuminating talk, aided by a powerpoint presentation, Lloyd Jones shared with the audience how his approach works – he insists on bringing every potential user of the building into the design process.

This includes the children who will use the new school on a daily basis, and who generally have a range of requirements for their school, to teachers, parents, school governors as well as the local community. Everyone’s wishes and suggestions on how a new school building could be more sustainable is taken into account. This could range from more outside space, to greater temperature control, or a better use of natural light, or building materials that are sourced from the local area.

After being the principal consulting architect on more than a dozen schools and academies across the UK, with many of them being in London, Lloyd Jones has acquired a certain expertise in this unique field, and it was fascinating to hear him explain it, and see the process through the slides and diagrams he presented.

The Student Competition

Architectural and engineering students within Israel were invited to participate in the conference by entering one of two competitions. The first, for architects, was to design a new green building to be used as a community centre for a disused area in central Jerusalem. This attracted a dozen designs by students working in small teams. As well as visiting the site, the students came up with wall displays and small scale architectural models, exhibiting their range of green and sustainable suggestions for such a site.

The engineering students were given the task of designing a sustainable market stall – one that could be easily transported and assembled, and that would have some exclusive green features. These ranged from being powered solely by bicycle power, to being very lightweight, enclosed structures, that could fit together with others to create a whole portable market environment.

These competitions succeeded in showing off the talents of the green architects and green designers of the future, alongside the contemporary masters of this relatively new, but highly exciting and important field.