Integrated multisystem approach: A key to sustainable design

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Integrated multisystem approach: A key to sustainable design
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Integrated multisystem approach: A key to sustainable design

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Integrated multisystem approach: A key to sustainable design
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Each building is a nexus of multiple systems ‘talking’ to each other. This integrated approach is often key to optimising performance. But how does integration work? How do you rally stakeholders and negotiate trade-offs?

Welcome to a new limited series in collaboration with the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, where we speak with winners of the Holcim Awards 2023 to explore innovative projects shaping a sustainable future in architecture and construction. The inaugural episode features Jonathan Diamond of Well Grounded Real Estate and Camilo García of Husos representing their respective Gold-winning projects: 1925 Victoria Park Ave (Toronto, Canada) and Infinito Delicias (Madrid, Spain).

The two projects exemplify multisystemic design with strong metrics and a compelling human-centric focus. Here, the approach at the drawing board is backed by a developmental model that shapes both the brief and the outcomes and offers lessons to others in the city.

In building design, integration is neither a technology nor a physical feature. It is the intelligence of the process that brings together systems, strategies, interests, expertise and methodologies to create a well-functioning, sustainable whole.

This episode sheds light on two very different takes on integration.

1925 Victoria Park Avenue is a near-net-zero residential complex in Toronto, Canada, that reimagines apartment living by employing a systems-based strategy that prioritises performance and operational efficiency.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

1925 Victoria Park Ave, as Jonathan Diamond explains, is a twelve-storeyed residential building in Toronto, Canada, comprising 185 large-format dwelling units. The project is a culmination of multiple strategies, which include passive design, efficient electric heating and cooling systems, and modular building technologies.

The apartment units are arranged around a central courtyard, with unit access provided by exposed single-loaded corridors for cross-ventilation and sunlight.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

It serves as a prototype for a new systems-based model to deliver sustainable housing at scale and bring about a step-change in the industry. The project seeks to provide a robust solution for the housing shortage and rising home prices.

Infinito Delicias is an adaptive reuse project that refurbishes an old factory in Madrid, Spain, into a mixed-use community building.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

Infinito Delicias, as Camilo García shares, is a rehabilitation project in Madrid, Spain, that aspires to transform a formal industrial building into a cultural innovation hub. It will bring together communities involved in sustainable food production, art, and social entrepreneurship, while also opening itself to the neighbourhood.

The project has been envisioned using a ‘360-degree co-design process’ that brings together urban analysis, real estate exploration, space design, governance, management, identity creation, and business modelling. Camilo also describes Infinito Delicias as a prototype, one that exemplifies a new way of building that is a culmination of social, environmental and economic excellence.

The building’s facade is integrated with a climatic control system that uses a combination of vegetation and manually controlled textile shading to control the amount of solar radiation entering the building.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

It can be quite an effort to create some consensus and alignment between different stakeholders. However, both Jonathan and Camilo agree that integration can improve the synergy between the various moving parts.

Jonathan, for example, points out that bringing stakeholders together in the beginning helped establish shared outcomes. This way, they were able to optimise the functioning of the whole rather than the parts. He ascertains that this integrated approach has been critical to the development of 1925 Victoria Park Ave’s energy-efficient thermal regulation system.

1925 Victoria Park Ave is nearly net-zero due to features such as high thermal insulation, ground-source heat pumps with in-ceiling radiant slabs, and low-energy electric systems.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction
Its massing is a middle ground between single-loaded and double-loaded courtyards, designed to maximise sunlight exposure to the courtyard, while also supporting a wider range of biodiversity and programming.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

Camilo emphasises that listening carefully to heterogeneous views is central to the practice of integration. Being attentive helped him and his team to create consensus whenever conflicts arose between the several parties working together on Infinito Delicias.

More than one-third of the total floor area in Infinito Delicias is dedicated to multi-purpose shared spaces that encourage community interaction.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction
Programmatic circularity is complemented by material circularity, the use of local biomaterials (wood, cork, etc), and the reuse of 95% of the original building.
© Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The two projects will also have an impact beyond their site boundaries. For instance, 1925 Victoria Park seeks to create a scalable model to improve price control and transparency. Infinito Delicias strives to measure social impact by building on the ‘360-degree’ process.

At this juncture, the question arises: how can we accelerate the adoption of these models? According to Camilo, one solution is to demonstrate how these processes can give birth to an ‘infrastructure of desire’: structures that are sustainable but also beautiful and fun. Jonathan echoes this thought and adds that governments should minimise regulatory barriers in the realisation of such projects.

The design stage of the two projects has been completed and they are both estimated to be completed by early 2025.

This limited webinar series is created in collaboration with:

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The Holcim Foundation helps drive systemic change towards a more sustainable built environment. It was founded in 2003 to define and promote the key principles of sustainability for the construction sector and is committed to accelerating the sector’s transformation so that people and the planet can thrive.

The Foundation has investigated various aspects of sustainable construction via a series of roundtables and conferences with international experts. It has also recognised excellent contributions to this field with the Holcim Awards which are considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.

Committed to a holistic approach that recognizes the equal importance and interdependence of four key goals, the Foundation combines the collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions of our global community of experts with our recognized platform of international competitions to democratise thought leadership for the entire sector.

The Holcim Foundation is proud to team up with Ecogradia and the host of its podcast, Nirmal Kishnani, with whom we share a common goal: contribute to a just, equitable and sustainable future via sustainable construction and design.

W  |  Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

This limited webinar series is created in collaboration with:

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The Holcim Foundation helps drive systemic change towards a more sustainable built environment. It was founded in 2003 to define and promote the key principles of sustainability for the construction sector and is committed to accelerating the sector’s transformation so that people and the planet can thrive.

The Foundation has investigated various aspects of sustainable construction via a series of roundtables and conferences with international experts. It has also recognised excellent contributions to this field with the Holcim Awards which are considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.

Committed to a holistic approach that recognizes the equal importance and interdependence of four key goals, the Foundation combines the collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions of our global community of experts with our recognized platform of international competitions to democratise thought leadership for the entire sector.

The Holcim Foundation is proud to team up with Ecogradia and the host of its podcast, Nirmal Kishnani, with whom we share a common goal: contribute to a just, equitable and sustainable future via sustainable construction and design.

W  |  Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

Host
Nirmal Kishnani

Producer
Maxime Flores

Senior communications executive
Sana Gupta

Art director
Alexander Melck | Phlogiston

Sound technician and editor
Kelvin Brown | Phlogiston

Video editors
Guellor Muguruka | Phlogiston
Madelein Myburgh | Phlogiston

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