By MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies (SAS) Ambassadors Xi Chen, Siyu Duan, Maria Englezou and Anaclara Penha. Edited by Sofie Pelsmakers.
Last week the Sheffield School of Architecture held its second “This Changes Everything” masters in architecture studio review, this year coinciding with COP21 in Paris. “This changes Everything” is lead by architect and Professor Irena Bauman and is in response to Naomi Klein’s “This changes Everything” book. The postgraduate wide studio reviews set out to engage the next generation of architects with climate change and the importance of (climate) resilience in the design and construction of our spaces and places. Each studio student group was asked to respond and present to the climate change mitigation and adaptation agenda and set out commitments early on in their design process how they – individually – but also as a collective studio – propose to fulfill their responsibility for a sustainable future.
Following on from the afternoon of reviews, four of the 2015/16 MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies (SAS) Ambassadors (Xi Chen, Siyu Duan, Maria Englezou and Anaclara Penha) reveal how they and their peers (including those outside architecture) respond to climate change and “this changes everything” in their projects and/or in their personal life. Their shared stories are below.
Dongxue Fu, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student from China
“Absolutely I will consider climate change in the project I’m doing now. The main concept of my scheme is to propose a strategy framework to respond to flood risk. The main strategy is to un-culvert the river and to try to encourage the uptake of green roofs to respond to expected increased winter precipitation. I am also proposing to complete the green corridor along the river Sheaf to encourage people to cycle to work.
In terms of my life, I try to persuade those around me to buy electric car, reduce paper and energy use etc.”
Maria Englezou, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student from Cyprus and 2015/16 SAS Ambassador
“As an architecture student I decided to continue my studies by specialising in sustainable architecture. In my opinion the deeper meaning of learning how to design sustainable buildings is to understand how to reduce our impact on the environment and the impact of climate change on our buildings and people within it. Then we can find ways both to mitigate and adapt to climate change in our design responses. In my current project I am studying Park Hill in Sheffield. What we are trying to do is how to transform an existing building in a way that it will have reduced energy use and also be suitable for future climate change.
In my personal life I try to recycle anything that can be recycled and I try not to print on paper as much as I used to.”
Anonymous, Masters student in Archeology from the USA, University of Sheffield
“First thing, being a citizen of the U.S. It’s been very frustrating how little our government is willing to do to combat climate change. So one thing I could do is vote specifically for politicians with environmental priorities. And put pressure on those already in office to take a more serious stance. A smaller thing that I could do is stop getting so much food take out. It generates a lot of non renewable and recyclable waste.”
Anastasia Harms, from Russia, Masters student in European and Global Affairs, University of Sheffield
“I did a course last year on European Energy policy. We talked quite a lot on green energy, environment and why the EU is now targeting to decrease CO2 emissions and promote green sources of energy. My final paper on this course was on nuclear energy and how it contributes to decreased carbon emissions. In my everyday life I am trying to manage better my use of electricity and I buy only energy efficient electric equipment. I don’t have a car, therefore I am using only public transport. And I follow rules on recycling.”
Anaclara Penha, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student from Brazil and 2015/16 SAS Ambassador.
“Taking a Sustainable Architecture master course gives me the opportunity to develop projects which focus on energy performance and CO2 emission reduction, not to mention social and other strategies to tackle climate change. In my studio project, I am working with retrofit architecture, to enhance existing buildings and impact on people’s well-being and life style. Outside the university, in my own projects, I did not have the same chance to relate my design to sustainable strategies, most because of the client preferences and economic aspects. Hence, I hope to, as an architect, influence people about our role as citizens and human beings in the right direction to avoid more environmental destruction and inequality. I discussed climate change with my friend, Isadora Barroso, from Brazil, and she said:”In my projects it still is a little difficult to apply certain strategies such as: solar panels, reuse of rain water, more sustainable materials and so on because most clients present some resistance to both applying this in their houses and changing their routines. Usually the clients that are willing to build a more sustainable building already come with this idea to the project, the ones that don’t ask for that are a little bit difficult to convince.”
Clarissa Ferreira, PhD student in Animal and Plant Sciences from Brazil, University of Sheffield
“I am becoming more aware about where the things I buy come from and trying to buy things that come from local farmers and impact the environment less. I constantly try to make people conscious about the importance of biodiversity to their lives and how we are part of nature. We depend on natural resources to survive, and because of this we must be aware of our impact and change our habits, not to mention our role in putting pressure on policy makers.”
Keira Lu, Masters student in Creative and Cultural Industries Management from China, University of Sheffield
“At home, I use CFL lamps; I walk or use public transport and turn off lights and electronic devices when you don’t need them. I recycle, but it’s really hard to achieve in my country, because most of people don’t have knowledge or awareness. And it’s hard to find the right place to recycle. I also use more organic and sustainable materials.”
Anonymous, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student
“In my home-town, public transport is encouraged by improved transportation and infrastructure, such as setting up public bicycle points all over the city, underground railway and tram systems and so on. Also, the government is building more green parks in many districts of the city. The government should encourage people to build buildings in a sustainable way, which means they should try to make the client understand the importance of sustainability. Moreover, government should improve public transportation and encourage people to choose a low carbon travel method. In my own design project, I am considering using renewable energy(solar panels), and making full use of daylight to reduce the consumption of energy on artificial lighting system.”
Anonymous, MAAD (Masters in architectural Design)
“I am doing research on Victoria Turkish Baths and I am using recycled material and traditional heating and cooling systems which can reduce the energy use.”
Xi Chen, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student from China and 2015/16 SAS Ambassador.
“ I’m interested in using low impact and reused or recycled materials as part of my design, such as straw, earth, and other local materials. Also, introducing daylighting and passive ventilation systems to reduce energy consumption. Based on the function of the design project, I might consider using solar panels, air-source heat pumps or ground-source heat pumps, or other clean and renewable energy. I think, in my own country, the government should encourage people to get to know more about climate change and sustainability and show them the significance of getting involved. Moreover, financial support for research on sustainability in architecture and energy should be necessary. Goverment should set new building policy to control energy consumption and carbon emission.
Siyu Duan, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student from China and 2015/16 SAS Ambassador.
“We are collecting data for a design project located in The Sheaf valley in Sheffield at an early design stage and I am attempting to achieve lower energy consumption by using strategies like district heating, green roof and low impact materials.”
Yuto Takenake, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies student from Japan
“My project now is to refurbish some Victorian houses. I’m trying to find a way to calculate energy use and improve the building fabric as well as support biodiversity byproposing super-insulated green roofs - all in support to reduce carbon emissions.”