The built environment is responsible for consuming over one-third of global energy and produces 40% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. To highlight the impact of sustainable design for local and global contexts, the Visualization and VR team at AECOM, in collaboration with exhibition designers at Install Archive, designed a virtual pavilion called Build Better Now for COP26. The pavilion can be accessed by the public from their phones or personal computers through the Build Better Now website.
The immersive VR exhibition showcases 17 green building proposals from across the globe that provide innovative solutions to the rapidly changing climate and deteriorating ecology. The projects featured were selected from an international open call and chosen based on the complexity of environmentally friendly schemes and the positive impact they provide for individuals and the surrounding environment. The goal of the initiative is to support the industry to continue building more sustainable spaces and cities all over the globe.
The pavilion interface includes domed exhibition spaces located in a lush forest connected to a central hub with walkways. In the center of the main dome is The Fountain of Circular Recovery, a 3D installation by Make Architects that includes a short video demonstrating how a circular economy can be achieved by 2050.
The 17 projects that the pavilion features encompass different aspects of environmentally friendly design. Some designs feature locally-sourced materials, including the University of East Anglia’s enterprise center, which uses thatch and reed, as well as a school made from bamboo in Indonesia. Some projects balance vernacular materials with modern construction methods like TECLA, 3D-printed housing built from extruded raw clay in the region of Lombardy in Italy.
While some projects work to retrofit existing spaces, such as the range of revamped housing across the U.K. and an urban eco-village favela in Brazil, others provide innovative design solutions to fit their geographical contexts. These include cross-laminated timber (CLT) bridges that can be easily adapted to suit infrastructural requirements, a mass timber market building in Kenya, flat-pack homes in Pakistan and holistically-designed housing for vulnerable individuals in New Zealand.
Large scale energy-efficient schemes that the pavilion features include the largest Passivhaus-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere (located in Australia) and an innovation district in Italy fully run on renewable energy. Other projects in this high-achieving category include a proposed cultural center in Sweden, which will be one of the world’s tallest timber buildings, as well as the largest energy-positive commercial building in Norway, which supplies its surplus energy to surrounding buildings and powers electric public transport buses.
Alongside the featured projects, Build Better Now hosts events, tours, keynotes, roundtable discussions and even includes downloadable content to further educate and inspire the public through exemplary green solutions. This interactive educational initiative is a step in the right direction, as the built environment plays a pivotal role in supporting the global shift to a net-zero carbon economy.
Images courtesy of AECOM, PT Bambu, Iago Corazza, ZED PODS Limited, Context Architects, artist impression, Crookes and Jackson, and Chris Coupland