Ecological Homes: the use of natural materials in sustainable construction
The book, “Case Ecologiche”, by author Dominique Gauzin-Müller (translated in Italian by Edizioni Ambiente) presents a panorama of new techniques in the field of ecological construction and sustainable development. It utilizes examples of how to integrate various natural materials, both singularly and in conjunction with one another.
Raw soil, wood, stone, glass, brick, and straw, are all included in the homes that the author has found in the Americas (Brasil, Canada, United States) in Asia (China, India) in Australia and in Europe (Germany, Austria, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland). These choices provide a complete and significant spectrum of the most current trends in the area of ecological homes.
One of the principal materials utilized is natural stone, praised for both for its physical characteristics and esthetic ones. It has been lovingly rediscovered today for its capacity to provide an overall sense of well-being both through visual cues and tactile elements. It is a traditional material which has a long history of being utilized by man in the sector of construction; stone slabs are one of the best materials in terms of durability and ease of repair, in addition to having a positive ecological impact through the possibility to re-cycle the material.
The images of the ecological homes presented in the volume vary radically due to various factors including: the surrounding area and climate, the natural resources available, the economic contest and local culture and tradition. However, throughout the book one may observe several themes found also in traditional construction methods. Whether situated in a natural environment, or in an urban context, many of the homes include not only living quarters, but also work spaces, hence limiting the traffic and pollution that commuting causes.
The theme of sustainable architecture, from ecological construction to energy efficient projects, continues to garner much attention in the field. Architects and designers have adapted their work to ensure optimal technical solutions and sustainable esthetics while also considering other aspects including: respect for the environment, use of energy sources and availability of local materials. All the while, they continue to pay close attention to creating an environment that includes the best creature comforts available (climate, acoustic etc.) for those who live and work in the home.
Within this cultural context of a sustainable approach to design, the choice of materials to utilize is one of the most important elements that an architect must face. In particular, choices regarding the internal area of the structure are chosen with great care and thought, since this area, as opposed to the external parts, will be of greater influence on the overall well-being of those living in the structure.
Architect and journalist, Dominique Gauzine-Müller collaborates with many publishing houses and European trade publications: in France “D'Architectures”, “Le Moniteur des travaux publics et du bâtiment”, “Séquences Bois” and “Techniques et architecture”, in Germany “Detail e Deutsche Bauzeitung” and in Italy “L'architettura natural”. Passionate about architecture utilizing wood in ecological projects, he develops much of his work as Associate Professor at the Scuola d'architettura di Nancy, and presents his research and work through written publications. He participates in conferences both in France and abroad.
(Dominique Gauzin-Müller. Case ecologiche. I principi, le tendenze, gli esempi, Edizioni Ambiente, 2007, 45 euro)