Last week GOD IS GREEN, the Manifattura Tabacchi’s Festival dedicated to sustainability and the future, ended. The rich calendar of meetings, performances, workshops and screenings has seen artists and professionals discussing art, plants, food and reread the relationship between man and nature. Valentina Porceddu, head of the R&D department of Mario Cucinella Architects who attended the first cycle of SOS, took part in the talk “Le piante come co-workers” with Stefano Mancuso, director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV), Walter Mariotti (Domus), Antonio Girardi (Pnat) and Leonardo Chiesi (UniFi).
The Architect’s intervention shown the sustainable solutions proposed by the school goers, in which they tried to reconnect man to nature. The first case study exposed deals with the great theme of neglected spaces: big abandoned areas of the city in which “artificial corpses” are often present, buildings that have failed to progress and cannot find new life, new forms of development. The solution in this case, that of the area around the Ospedale Maggiore in Bologna, was to widen the gaze and act on the voids without necessarily trying to fill them with new volumes: “we try to equip the city with its first green infrastructure, mainly made up of voids that, properly designed, can guarantee a series of ecosystem functions, such as reducing the surface temperature and increasing the comfort of the people who live around. The green areas have their own function and are related to other destinations of use around them.”
In this case the green has been used as a compositional and characterizing element of the whole project, but there is also another possible approach: to study the principles that regulate the plant world and try to translate natural processes into design actions to reap the best benefits in construct a new artefact. This is the case of a building in Abu Dhabi, a city that is a symbol of continuous overbuilding, a city that “deconstructs and rebuilds” itself at a high rate. Buildings need a lot of energy to be able to function and they produce lots of waste: the goal is to be able to optimize the performance of an architectural product by acting on its metabolism, maximizing its resources. Therefore, designing a building in a sustainable way means: “to ensure that the quantity of material used and its transportation is not increased further over time; try to reuse the existing as much as possible, but also design the new so that it is sufficiently flexible towards future changes and therefore with a long-term design vision.”
So, on the one hand, the criterion is to use the plants integrating them within the architecture, on the other hand it is to be inspired by natural principles considering the building as a living organism. To do this there is a need for specialized training and, to address these issues, the Research must always be combined with the practice of the profession so that case studies do not remain simple exercises but are set in real contexts.
Listen to all the speeches of the talk’s protagonists. The talk was held in Italian.