The Future of Energy Generation: Sustainable Architecture

When considering utilization of wind or solar energy, the image that most often comes to peoples mind is that of conventional solar panels and wind turbines. Consequently raising the question of assessing the required space for the installation and operation of these solutions.

However, time has moved on and along with it new ways and form-factors have been developed for the implementation of these sustainable energy sources within urban areas. Taking both of these technologies into a new direction, by rethinking the way we build and live. Combining the concept of architecture and sustainable energy, has led to the design of amazing new buildings that generate a significant sur-plus amount of electricity while providing increased living comfort.

On a global scale, several projects have been developed within this philosophy. A prime example of which, is the joint development project between Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and Norway’s research centre on zero emission buildings. Designing and building a house which produces three times the amount the energy it consumes. It even incudes its own sauna and swimming pool. The designer also states that the addition of an electric car is also ideal by charging the car with the sur-plus produced energy.

Building-Schematics, showcasing the utilized sustainable technologies
Outside view of the house

With the current prognosis that by 2050 66% of world population will be living in urban areas, and the fact that 75% of the current carbon footprint is related to city’s1, concepts like these are no longer to be considered a niche, but actual feasible solutions that we should embrace in order to create a healthier and more sustainable living environment for the future. By integrating sustainable energy production with the concept of housing, cities in contrast have the ability to become inter-connected energy producing hubs.

Related projects on a more grand scale have also been undertaken. Showcasing the extent to which these sustainable solutions are applicable. The Bahrain World-Trade Centre, which was build in 2008 for example, consists of two seperate towers built in aerodynamic accordance  with the regional Persian gulf winds. The design which was inspired by ancient Arabian wind towers, helps to funnel strong winds allong three wind turbines. Annually providing the equivalent amount of energy to sustain 300 households.

By looking at regional conditions and circumstances, specific structural designs can be employed, while implementing matching sustainable solutions to achieve the most energy efficient outcome. Current, alongside new sustainable energy generating technologies will enable the construction of complete city’s which are able to provide in our ever-increasing global energy demand. Thereby not only solving spatial issues regarding the implementation of conventional sustainable energy solutions, but also freeing up an substantial ammount of public space, which in turn can be used for recreational purposes alongside the production of food. Thus also contributing to the improvement of urban living conditions.

By taking on a different view on how a city can function, we can create an environment that works in accordance with our modern day needs. Furthermore, by revaluating the combined concepts of form and function, we have to ability of shaping an enviroment that facilitates in overcoming planetery boundaries and meet in our future energy demands.



More pages on the subject:

Norwegian Ecological House

Insights in the minds behind sustainable City Projects – Interview

Examples Around the World – Modern day development

1. United Nations – World Urbanisation Prospects


4 thoughts on “The Future of Energy Generation: Sustainable Architecture”

  1. I think it is a great idea to decentralise energy generation and to produce energy at the site where it is consumed. In this way, energy loss due to transportation is avoided and people no longer are independent on big energy companies. The houses you show look amazing and I’d definitely like to live there, however I won’t be able to afford them, just as the majority of people… Do you think that it will become affordable for everyone in the future?


    1. Dear Minke,

      Thank you for your insightfull comment.

      Currently projects like the joint developed sustainable house by Snøhetta and Norway’s research centre on zero emission buildings, published within this article is not only signicantly cheaper to produce in comparison to conventional houses, but also introduce a sur-plus ammount of energy that can be reintroduced to the existing energy grid.

      The first reason for the cheaper price of these houses is related to the usage of sustainable materials which require less energy intensive production methods that constitute to the construction of these type of houses.

      The second reason for the lower purchase price of these houses is due to the application of the sur-plus ammount of renewable energy that these houses produce over time. Think of these houses as individual energy producing units, actually contributing to the existing infrastucture, Effectively contributing energy to existing industries and production processes. By choosing to live in these type of houses actual equals to the developement of a more efficient and sustainable society. Governments and industries would therefor have major incentive to subsidise and support people purchasing and investing in sustainable housing, thereby making them more affordable in comparison to conventional housing.


  2. First of all I want to say that I think the designs of the houses look wonderful! To me it seems lovely to live in one of those buildings and I certainly agree that such architecture is necessary in order to reach energy neutrality in the near future. Therefore I now wonder how you think new buildings like this could be best implemented in a city such as Leiden which does not have many spare space left?

    Maybe tiny houses or ZED Pods (see my piece and link underneath) would be a good option? Also for people who will not have the means to afford a more expensive house this might be a solution.


  3. Dear Naomi,

    Thank you for making a very good point.

    These types of houses are hard to arise in Leiden since most space is already occupied with older constructed buildings. However, by looking at the accessible space within the city, specific building designs can be applied to intelligently make use of the free space that is available. The link you provided is a briliant example of this. Reassesing the spatial lay-out of an area enables us to rethink the way we use certain space.

    In regards to groing cities with an concurrent increasing population density, the demand on living space and energy are two key-factors in sustaining consistent urban growth. Combining both of these key-factors in a ergnomic formfactor enables the creation of a city or area that provides the most efficient spatial arrangement in meeting the demand for both.


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