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This exhibition has been going on for a while, but I haven’t had a chance to visit it until this summer. In case somebody missed it, Louisiana is an art museum outside Copenhagen by the sea with a wonderful permanent collection of modern art, and great temporary exhibitions. Currently, the exhibition “Green architecture for the future” is part two in a series of four on “The frontiers of architecture”.

The exhibition is divided in three different parts, The City, Climate & Comfort and Metabolism. The first part, The City, deals, like the Venice Biennale, and the Future Cities exhibition in the Barbican in the same year, with the unsustainable way our cities grow. Cities are the largest and fastest growing organisms on the planet, and the same statistics as in the other exhibitions illustrate the enormous scale of the challenge. The projects displayed range from the realistic to the impossible, via the highly improbable that are actually in construction.

Perhaps the most mundane, yet realistic projects are Ken Yeang’s skyscrapers, based on “ecomimesis”, skyscrapers for tropical climate that regulate their own temperature and imitates nature as much as possible. Yeang is also perhaps one of the pioneers on the subject of green architecture and has been following the trail since the eighties at least.

Another interesting project is the urban acupuncture projects by Spanish architects, Ecosistema Urbano, The Eco-boulevard, in Madrid, a project that tries to address the sustainability of the city on a social level as well as on a green level, and creating symbiotic effects that result in very interesting upgraded public spaces.

Other projects in this section include Foster’s “Masdar City” project in Abu Dhabi, in a display that more or less looks and feels like a real estate agent’s promotional material, MVRDV’s “Paris Plus”, plans on the future of greater Paris on an Haussmannian scale, and an interesting project by COBE on the future of Nordhavnen in Copenhagen.

Personally I was very fond of Lacaton Vassal’s project of updating the Paris suburb, which is not only realistic, but could have a great impact without rebuilding the city from the ground up, some glazed walls will be enough. This is another project with a social agenda as well as a green one.

The second part, Climate and Comfort, explores the climate within the building and how architecture and energy production can work together and enhance each other, and the aesthetics produced from this union. Sun and wind power incorporated in an early stage of the project rather than as an add on afterwards. The projects displayed are typically prototypical in some way, but on a large scale. However, in my opinion a few more utopian projects on this level might have explored the ideas further.

The third section, Metabolism, is focussing on how the materials of architecture can be tuned to work with the environment rather than against it. One theoretical approach given great attention, and rightly so, is the “Cradle to Cradle” design philosophy, conceived by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. This approach is based on considering the entire life cycle of every component of any product, including architecture, it should all be possible to recycle or reuse every component in some way. This involves simplifying products by using fewer materials and chemicals in the production in order to simplify the eventual recycling of the product. One architectural project here is a skyscraper by McDonough, that should function as a tree with inputs of light and water and produce oxygen and energy while being a home to its residents.

I’d recommend this exhibition, making legible exhibitions on architecture is very difficult, but the result in this case is very clear and comprehensible. The exhibition is on until October 4.

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