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By Laura Zamarriego Maestro
"For the next 40 years, architects lost themselves in making art and celebrating their individualism, and traffic planners continued to strive to make life easier for the car," says Danish urban planner Jan Gehl, critical of this planning model. urban disconnected from people.
“Huge buildings are projected and more lanes are added for cars, completely forgetting what happens on the ground. That space where humans move, live and interact ”, says Gehl. He chose Dubai as an example to illustrate his opinion, a city whose design "is equivalent to taking a series of perfume bottles and putting them in line: each building tries to be more original than the other, but ends up creating a pastiche of elements that look towards the sky and never on a human scale ”.
An architecture designed for the citizen is also an architecture committed to the environment. Buildings are responsible, worldwide, for almost half of total energy consumption and 15% of water consumption. In the case of Spain, "it is necessary to rehabilitate existing buildings because 30% of the energy consumed comes from the cost of the housing stock", according to Luis De Garrido, director of the National Association for Sustainable Architecture (ANAS). The truth is that demographics are growing, the effects of climate change are worsening and the need to create sustainable communities is pressing.
A paradigm shift towards more sustainable cities takes a slow and complex process, but there are examples that materialize it, as is the case of Copenhagen (Denmark). Danish houses are among the most efficient in the world, regardless of whether two-thirds of the buildings were built before the Second World War. In this city, more than 37% of the population uses the bicycle as the main means of transport. Wastewater treatment, awareness campaigns and water consumption measurement systems - mandatory since 1999 - have caused the city to considerably reduce its consumption. 55% of the waste is recycled and the remainder is incinerated in plants that are connected to the city's heating system, which supplies it with heat through an urban network, as is the case with water or gas. Copenhagen has managed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 20% in the last 15 years.
Homes do not have to be used solely to provide shelter. Now, structures can be designed to respond to natural phenomena, underground conditions, permeability of materials, and energy consumption. The benefits are multiple: apart from reducing energy consumption and the price of the bill, the useful life of buildings is lengthened, since self-sufficiency is analogous to durability.
“Architecture is environment, sustainability, accessibility and energy efficiency; habitability and security; heritage and culture. In short, we are talking about life and quality of life ”, says Paloma Sobrini, architect and former dean of the Official College of Architects of Madrid, and adds:
"Architecture is what causes the worker in the factory to work more comfortably, that the elderly spend their last years in a cozy residence, that the family can develop in a suitable environment and that the children study and grow up in an ideal environment." According to the Swiss architect Jacques Herzog, buildings must be open to change: "If architecture does not fulfill that function, focused on reuse, sustainability and the service of citizens, it will be a failure."