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Going Green at the Sydney Architecture Festival

Elana Castle interviews Malaysian architect Dr Ken Yeang, renowned eco-architect, ahead of his public talk as part of the Sydney Architecture Festival.

What are your thoughts on Australian architecture, in particular our approach to sustainability?

I think Australia is faring better than most countries in terms of environmentally sustainable design. However, the problem with green architecture generally, is that it is too engineering driven. There are many other factors to consider, like the quality of land and natural cycles, which have a huge impact on architectural design.

We are looking forward to hosting you at the Sydney Architecture Festival. What can we expect to hear at your lecture?

I’ll be talking about a holistic, green approach to architecture, the issues I’ve solved and those that still pose a challenge. I’ll present a visual narrative of what I’ve been doing for the last 20-30 years. I’ll also expand on five key strands of design which include ecology and eco-infrastructure, clean engineering, the water cycle, our role as human beings and the need for an eco-aesthetic.

What key techniques and philosophies should architects employ and integrate?

Architects need to look beyond mere technologies in creating sustainable design. We need to create buildings that go beyond the recommendations and accreditation systems, working to at least a 4-8% increase on industry standards. It’s up to the ingenuity of the architect to go further than compliance. Architects should look at the Living Building Challenge as a benchmark certification programme. It’s about being performance driven versus only standard driven.

Your new book – Ecodesign: A Manual for Ecological Design looks at the design of masterplans for eco-districts and eco-cities. A key feature of this year’s festival is Super Sydney, a citywide discussion about our city, co-ordinated by local councils. How can we better educate local authorities and government about sustainable design?

Government is the ultimate authority. They should be providing incentives like tax deductions and grants to architects and developers who produce sustainable buildings. They should extend these incentives to sustainable businesses and industries. They need to assist and encourage green developments not gratuitous behaviour.

What are some of the greatest green challenges cities face?

Making existing buildings green is the biggest challenge in re-generating our cities. Green is a huge challenge because it involves an understanding of amongst others, a sustainable approach to water, sewerage, transportation, food and waste. We need to engender a green lifestyle, applying green principles to everything we do.


Lecture by Dr Ken Yeang

Thursday 25th October, 6pm

University of Sydney

Sydney Architecture Festival

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