Last week I attended the international PLEA 2013 conference where I presented the paper Weather Perception in Urban Public Spaces (which you can find at the bottom of the page). The 29th edition of this conference took place in Munich, Germany, with the subtitle Sustainable Architecture for a Renewable Future. The conference invited scientists, planners, architects, engineers, stakeholders, entrepreneurs and students from around the world to present and discuss holistic, quality-based approaches to future challenges in architecture and planning. The organization of the event was brilliantly run by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Werner Lang and the rest of the team at the Technische Universitat Muenchen (TUM). Thanks for the terrific dinner!
The conference included very motivating and stimulating talks, such as those given by Thomas Herzog, Mario Cucinella, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Michael Taylor and Xiaodong Li. They addressed the broad topic of sustainability in architecture from the design point of view and left the technical aspects besides. As Mario Cucinella stated, most of the energy savings you can get in a building come from architectural design. Issues such as orientation, façade composition or proportions are the key factors in sustainable design. D. Francis Kéré and Xiaodong Li gave us also a broader view of sustainability and showed us what it means and the implications it has in their countries and for their societies. It is thought-provoking to read the huge numbers that China manages and the implications of its government’s decisions. Similarly, it is puzzling to see how, while in the developed world, sustainability means making a responsibly use of energy and resources, in developing countries, it is an actual need as they have no resources. We generally, as a society, understand sustainability as an ethical option, but in places such as Gando (Burkina Faso) or Gaza, natural ventilation or using local materials is the only possibility.
On Wednesday afternoon, a panel discussion on Sustainability and Building Culture was held. The panel was formed by renowned architects such as Angela Garcia de Paredes or Matthias Sauerbruch, and moderated by Wilfried Wang. From my point of view, the most interesting idea posted by the panel was that of INTEGRATION. As architects that is what we do. We have to integrate many different issues, such as programme, costs, society, beauty, structural stability, topography, sustainability, etc. into one building. That is what we call architectural design. And sustainability must be another component of the design from the beginning. I really liked this statement by Thomas Herzog: "Never give up the beauty".
Finally, the conference included a wide range of topics from building elements to cities or refurbishment. Around 190 researchers from all over the world presented their works, either in posters or oral presentations, about sustainable architecture with impressive results. I was very pleased to form part of the Regions, Cities, Neighborhoods section together with recognized researches such as Prof. Dr. Evyatar Erell and Prof. Dr. Edward Ng. It was very interesting to see our common interests in research topics with people from all over the world and the effort done by scholars to create more comfortable outdoor spaces for citizens. I want to thank deeply Simos Yannas and Paula Cadima for their guidance and support of my research.