Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

Design hospitals to be community centers.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore is a biophilic building with a great abundance of green elements. It’s a hospital in a garden.

Singapore is known as the garden city; their new motto is “We are a city in the garden.” They believe everyone should aspire to live in a garden environment, surrounded by nature, and that every piece of empty land should be filled with nature. More than any other city, Singapore is also thinking vertically, creating buildings filled with nature.

Liak Teng Lit, the CEO of the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, wanted a building where your heart rate and blood pressure go down as you enter. Hospitals are inherently stressful. You are there because you anticipate an operation or worse. Instead of stressing patients and visitors out, he built a hospital that acts as a partner in the healing process.

Patients look out onto multiple layers of green roofs, planter boxes along the windows, and a courtyard garden. There is a set of healing spaces with a waterfall connected by water spaces and fishponds, which provide habitats to many species of fish.

One of the green roofs is actually a dramatic urban farm where patients can watch food being grown and harvested. When Lit surveyed the patients to discover what they thought of the farm, they said, “We love watching it, we love seeing food being grown.”

The building is an ark designed to partially restore lost nature. The hospital’s level of success is judged in terms of how many bird and butterfly species the gardens attract.

The hospital is also a community center. In the United States, hospitals are high security, but this hospital attracts people from the neighborhood. Local students come here to study, and it acts as a park as well.

This place makes me hopeful because it shows how healthcare facilities can be designed to include nature. While there is no recorded evidence, my gut feeling is that this building does heal. This is a hospital people want to be in.

Timothy Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities at the
University of Virginia.

This is an excerpt from
Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Image credit: Khoo Teck Puat Hospital / Timothy Beatley

Company

Revitalize industrial traditions with contemporary designs.

A Finnish-Korean firm called Company travels to places with a rich industrial heritage—Belgium, Germany, Korea, Russia, Finland—and works with the local craftspeople to create new products in a contemporary way while demonstrating the skills of the industrial traditions.

Company designs these incredibly charming products. One is called “Car Shoes,” made in Busan, Korea. The shoes look like race cars: one shoe has race car driver Michael Schumacher and the other has driver Kimi Raikkonen. As you walk, it looks like they are racing each other.

Another is called the “Winter Tie,” which was created with an old Finnish manufacturer. It’s essentially a hybrid between a scarf and a tie.

There’s a very nice pair of felt shoes called “Dance Shoes,” also from Finland. They are made for a father. On top of his shoe, there’s a much smaller shoe made for his daughter, a place for her when they are dancing together.

In Korea they collaborated with craftspeople to create “Noodle Shoes,” which is a pair of sneakers that have laces like noodles sitting on top, a curly ornament. They are selling quite well. The Bibimbag, named after the famous spicy Korean dish, “keeps all your ingredients separate.”

There’s a very nice bag from Bavaria, a region famous for sausages and leather products. They went into a leather factory and collaborated with the factory workers to create the incredibly feminine and elegant “Metal Bag,” which is made out of the chain mail used in butcher’s gloves.

Rather than applying a universal approach everywhere, these products are about taking the time and care to discover local conditions. They look at each situation, culture, and climate in a specific way and try to evolve or invent an approach that gets the maximum amount of impact out of available resources. It’s about creating designs really tailored to local cultures.

Bjarke Ingels is the founding partner of the architecture and urban design firm, BIG.

This is an excerpt from Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Image credit: Dancing Shoes / COMPANY

Angkor Wat

Connect achitecture to the natural world.

I’m inspired by Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Angkor Wat is beautiful because its architecture is deeply connected with the natural world. Even in its ruined state, Angkor Wat is an optimistic place. This temple complex, which was built in the twelfth century, is the largest on earth. In the preindustrial era, Angkor City was actually the world’s most populated city.

The temple complex is supported by a hydraulic engine—eastern and western pools, which are called barays. They are entirely handmade. While the eastern baray is now dry, the western one still holds acres of water. The western baray is larger than Central Park in New York City.

Khmer culture prospered between the tenth and fifteenth centuries because the Khmer were wise stewards of a precious natural resource: water. Khmer culture is a monsoon one. Even their calendar is arranged around the cycle of wet and dry periods. Angkor Wat’s pools, which were imbued with a spiritual quality, were built so that an extra crop could be grown in the dry season.

But some experts believe the pools were also built because of Cambodia’s extremely hot climate. The pools function as evaporative cooling towers or plate heat exchanges, creating cooling breezes. Buildings are oriented to block out the harshest sun, while deep-shaded walkways provide access to the stone temples, which are hollow with a narrow aperture at the top. Breezes then move across the pools down the pathways into the holy centers of temples, which are basically thermal chimneys. Essentially, the Khmer created air conditioning.

We are really just beginning to understand the complex geometry and proportions of Angkor Wat.

Rick Cook is founder and principal of Cook + Fox.

This is an excerpt from
Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Image credit: Angkor Wat / Chi King, Creative Commons

Mushroom Board

Eliminate trash and chemicals.

A piece of mushroom board, created by Ecovative Design in upstate New York, has sat on my desk for the past six years. It has moved from the desk in my design office to the desk at my school office and back again. This product shows us rapidly growing spores of mycelium can be used as a replacement for Styrofoam.

Mushroom board is grown from an organic process found in nature. It can be molded into any shape or thickness. Ecovative uses vegetative waste material to create the structure for the board. If mushrooms replaced Styrofoam, we could stop using petrochemicals to make packing materials that create tons of trash and never leave the planet. Styrofoam is not only toxic to the planet, it’s also coated with chemicals that are harmful to humans. We could instead grow insulating material using the energy of the earth.

Package insulation is a huge industry. For furniture alone, shipping bulky items across continents requires tons of packing material. What happens to these packing materials at the end? They are thrown away and create landfills. With mushroom board, packaging material could be added to gardens. At the end of its life, the material could go back to the earth, nourishing the soil in the process.

Beyond testing this as packing material, Ecovative is experimenting with creating airtight, insulated structural walls and grown-in-place building installations. They are also looking at replacing toxic spray foams, which are horrible for human and environmental health, with a mushroom spray that could fill gaps of any shape—and it’s naturally flame-retardant!

This product is very exciting as it combines cutting-edge science, technical engineering, and manufacturing know-how. Ecovative is also approaching the roll out of these products in a very smart way. They are experimenting with firms in many different industries at once, including packaging, acoustic panel, and insulation companies.

Mushroom board is about eliminating trash and chemicals. It’s a return to the earth but in a forward thinking way. It shows us great strides in science don’t need to be artificial or synthetic.

Jonsara Ruth is an assistant professor and the founding director of the MFA program in interior design at Parsons the New School for Design, and she leads the Brooklyn-based design collective, Salty Labs.

This is an excerpt from Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Image credit: Mushroom Board / Jonsara Ruth