When starting to design any architectural project – especially one that is located outside city limits – it is essential that the architect study the ecology of the site and ensure that the impact on the land is minimised. Like the materials used, the design of and methods utilised to build a structure can have far reaching effects on not just the inhabitants but on nature as well.
A building’s footprint is not merely the land area that it covers – it includes the impact on the surrounding land and on the earth’s resources as a whole. When designing, say a house outside the city, the architect must carefully study the site to see if the natural flow of water can be maintained, if the natural vegetation and top-soil can be preserved and find ways to minimise pressure on the surrounding ecology by working within the limits of sustainability.
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Trees can lower the ambient temperature at a site by something like 4°-5° C and regulate humidity in the bargain. They also act as sun and wind barriers in harsh climates, bind the soil to prevent erosion, help rain water to recharge underground aquifers and create oxygen so that we can all breathe. To reach their full potential, trees take a long time to grow but, despite this, people often don’t think twice before chopping them down.
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When travelling around the country – especially to smaller towns and, particularly, villages – one can’t help but notice the different styles and materials that are used by the local people. Except in cases where outside influence has destroyed the local vernacular, one sees a definite pattern.
Construction is, usually, an extremely energy-intensive activity. Whereas our predecessors worked relatively quietly with hand tools, today’s construction site is a noisy, dirty place.