Ken Yeang, “Ecoarchitecture and Ecomasterplanning: The Work of Ken Yeang”

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you so much for coming My name is Holly Samuelson I’m an assistant professor at the GSD, and I teach energy and environmental systems classes, primarily in architecture So it is with great pleasure today that I’m able to introduce you to Ken Yeang Ken told me that I should not tell you that he does not pick his nose, and that his mother loves him, and end there But I already prepared this, so I’m going to read it anyway Dr. Ken Yeang is an architect, a planner, an ecologist, and an author He is best known for his signature ecologically-focused architecture and planning projects He has even been called the father of the bioclimatic skyscraper He is the principal of Hamzah & Yeang, with offices in Malaysia, the UK, and China Over four decades, he has completed over 200 projects and several books He has also received numerous awards, including the Aga Khan Award, Prince Claus Award, Malaysian Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, and Malaysia’s Merdeka Award Dr. Yeang was even featured on the PBS series e2 design, where he was introduced by Brad Pitt I guess I wasn’t available that day I think I first learned of Ken’s work back in 2003, when the National Building Museum had an exhibit called Big and Green, with a book of the same name And you can see that this has been well loved by me I remember seeing the exhibit, and Ken’s work in particular, and being very inspired Until then, I really didn’t associate his ecological design strategies, like access to nature, use of vegetation, natural ventilation, with large scale projects If these strategies were used at all, it was primarily on small projects at that time And the challenges to this jump in scale to a skyscraper is multifold Space is at a premium in an urban environment Air pressure differences over the span of a skyscraper make natural ventilation tricky And I think there’s also a cultural difference These weren’t small, niche projects for environmental nonprofits These were IT consultants and business executives So the fact that Ken dreamed it, got the client to see it, and got it built, is very inspiring So his work inspires me And it still does And I’m sure that a host of other designers feel the same way So it’s with great pleasure that I get to introduce you to Dr. Yeang Well, I’m delighted to be here, to be invited by Mohsen Taught me everything I know I’m going to talk about the work I’ve been doing for a few years And I have a lot of slides to cover, so I’m going through it fairly quickly And if you want me to go back through it again, I can do that later on But the thesis for today is how we can design the built environment as constructed ecosystems Now I had to study ecology at Cambridge University They don’t call ecology ecology in Cambridge University It’s a rather pompous university They call it environmental biology And I got to see the earth as covered by this thin film called the biosphere, which is where organisms live [inaudible] lights please Now around the biosphere, which is about 10,000 meters high, you have the biochemical cycles, and ecosystems consist of communities of plants and animals and the physical environment acting together to form a whole Now the holistic property is very important, because that’s what differentiates ecosystems from other combinations of organic and inorganic Now the communities of plants and animals and the physical environment interact in very complex ways Then within the communities of plants and animals, we have one particular species, a specie, which is human beings And we are the most powerful species We can change nature We can change landscapes We can extract a huge amount of energy from fossil fuels And now we’re able to change the global climate And so, now human beings make artifacts We make, what I call, the built environment Human beings make more artifacts than any other species in nature And it is the built environment as production systems that contaminate and affects the climate change So that’s the story of the existing situation of the moment 20 years ago, it was just designers’ preventive action, but now it’s a race and rescue mission So, actually, for me, it’s a serious matter Now when I first started working in this field, it occurred to me that everything that we make as human beings is physical

Take this building that we’re in Everything in this building is physical, except you and me and the bugs So where was the organical [inaudible]?? So the thesis that I’m presenting today is what happens if we bring the two together, combine the organic environment, the biotic environment with the abiotic, to make what we call constructed ecosystems? So one of the first things we did 20, 30 years ago was to see how we can balance and biointegrate the biotic and abiotic So I’ll start to do what I call icons or patterns of how they could be related [inaudible] be in one spot, as you can see in the first diagram You could have a spotty relationship It’s like when you have a stepping stone, a third one And ideally, once the third one, which is the continuous one And this is what it means in planning terms, that you can have one location is in Central Park, New York You can have a series of green squares as in George in London You have a series of ecological corridors and fingers So the other experiments, I went through a series of these in my early work And this was a building we did maybe 20 or 30 years ago And this was taken, actually, in 2017 So it’s survived reasonably well over 20, 30 years I wish I could do that with myself, but not anymore And this is the ground floor Now, this is the floor plate of the building I put the vegetation on the terraces around the periphery of the building Now then is a color-free floor plate, but 25 meters from the top to the bottom is ideal for financial institutions At the same time, I was looking into passive-mode design And this is some studies that we did on how the core position, the elevator core position, can influence the energy performance of the skyscraper And so, the most effective one is the one that’s identified here These were studies we did for Tokyo, which is [inaudible] was latitude And that you can look at a floor plate All the cores have natural ventilation opportunities And that means it doesn’t have to be– the core doesn’t have to be fire-protected, pressurized, and the staircased and toilets, you would have natural ventilation So the cores on east and west side, as you can see, the diagram’s left side, that works as thermal buffers between the outside and the inside That’s the building But it was not satisfactory because the vegetation is not continuous There’s disparities But certain species like vertebrates can move one to the other, but the terrestrial-type species cannot And so next, let’s try to make it continuous, like the ecological Nexus, which is making the habitats interconnected And so the next experiment was what I call a stepping stone This is a series of stepping stones that are connected, but it is almost connected, but pretty close And with this project, the two planters were connected by a trellis, so that the vegetation can climb up from one end to the other end And the idea was to step up to the building, the face of the building But, of course, halfway up the building, you run out of building So we brought it across the floor, and this we put the mechanical systems we call the plant rooms of the [? client, ?] and brought it up on the other side Again, you can see the cores on the east and west side, and it’s the same idea again Now then I started to develop the idea, what happens if the nexus is linked as a series of landscape ramps? I call this a linear habitat So the idea was that, by being linked, it enables species movement, enables species interaction, and, because it’s linked, enables a larger pool of shared resources and agendas, a larger level of biodiversity, and generally is a much more stable system So this is the drawing that we did We thought, well, rather than just having a linked ramp of vegetation that climbs up the building, we put a walkway so people could service the planting and the organic life without going through the interior of the building And so it doesn’t bother the users of the building And so this was done, and it took me about five to eight years before I was actually able to realize it And here it is Here’s the walkway There’s the planting And that’s the facade It’s not as shady on top And this is the building that we did with the vegetation that goes all the way up the building And this is the view of the building from the southeast The idea was to bring the vegetation up one floor So with every facade, it moves up one floor, and it goes all the way up to the top And this is the walkway Now rather than just a boring, sort of [inaudible] linear park, it’s 1.3 kilometers long if you pull it out And at the corners I have little plazas,

where people could interact between the inner park and the people inside And that’s one of those plazas That’s another view of one of the plazas And then at mid-level, have a mid-level roof garden And then it goes up again, and then it joins to the uppermost roof garden, which gives a terrific view of this part of Singapore So these are different systems we had for greening I put the roofs, and the walls, and the ground And we wanted to bring it all the way down to the basement I call it the ecocell And so, for this big of a building, it winds, spirals, when it reached the ground level, spirals all the way down to the basement And this is where it’s located, and I call this an ecocell Because at the bottom, you can have actually a John Todd type of either living machine or rainwater harvesting tank that you have here But it brings vegetation down to the lowest level, provides the machines rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation to the inner parts of the building, and brings daylight, and you can have a living machine at the bottom Now the building actually is two blocks, A and B, joined by a bridge And this is what a bridge is They’re [? joining ?] two buildings And one of the experiments we had was to have what we call a diagonal light shaft We wanted to have a holographic glass at the bottom that the throws light up the shaft But the client didn’t want to spend the money And my friend Dr. Miller from Gelsenkirchen starts producing the holographic glass This is looking up from the street level You can see the atrium at the top And this is the light shaft, and you can see the shaft cut as a [? hole ?] void in the floor plate, in the right-hand diagram This is the daylight simulation It’s fairly dark in the middle, because we want to optimize the daylight But the building form was part of the master plan, which was done by Zaha, and she was the master planner And she won the competition, beating Ito and a few other people So this was looking up, and you can see the atrium at the top, the top of this big hole, or this big void And that’s looking down at the street level You can see the atrium The little red square shows the hole that comes out the top of the atrium So this was the building that we did back in 2009, I think And these are different ways we put vegetation buildings The fourth diagram shows a building we did at the University of Hong Kong But this time brought the vegetation in the ziggurat pattern going up to the top Another example is this data center we did for a Swedish Scandinavian Telco company And [inaudible] basically a [? box of ?] machine, and so you had a limited budget and bit of vegetation that zigzags across the facade It goes around one facade, the other facade, and back down again to where it first started And the top of the building, we tilted the roof a little bit [inaudible] to provide energy to power the irrigation system And the system, actually, unlike the ones that Patrick Blanc does, is a series of cassettes So that in case the vegetation fails, you can just take out the cassette, replace it Rather than, in Patrick’s system, he has to rip out all the vegetation And we try and put the fresh air intake for the air conditioning behind the green wall That sort of green wall can scrub the air before it enters And this is the entry atrium, which is naturally ventilated And the building uses about 150 kilowatts per square meters per annum, compared to a typical office building, which uses 210 So by all means and purposes, it’s an energy building But that’s not enough We should head towards net zero Sorry, this is just a work consumption, which you can’t see the slide And here’s the building as it’s completed Now at this point in time, you probably think, well, all Ken does is just put veggies in his buildings OK, I can do that, too, and a lot of our competitors do that, too [inaudible], people like that But I do much more than this I create habitats to enhance the biodiversity So this really we just completed about less than six months ago And this was 1.3 [inaudible] square feet We won this in the competition And there’s the view looking down from the central plaza It has an experimental– a double skin building So the outer skin is actually [inaudible] glass which acts as an experimental sunshade And this is the view from the promenade And now this what we do We establish habitats at different parts of the site on the ground, in the building, in the walls, in the balconies, in the roof, and the building actually happens to be aligned with the plaza, which was called Wawasan Putrajaya Opposite is the Ministry of Finance

And actually it was a bit of fight, because the authorities wanted us to imitate, emulate the facade of the Ministry of Finance, which was designed by one of my friends, [inaudible],, which is GDP But we fought it, resisted, until, well, finally– There’s basically two V-shaped buildings which are almost symmetrical, but not quite It’s not symmetrical, because I had to align with nexus going all the way down Now these are different habitats in the building And so having established habitats, next thing we need to do is to do research on the native species of fauna that we want to bring back, whether it’s for feeding, breeding, or refuges for prey And that just see in the photo from the habitats and the research, the next thing we did was to identify the flora that will attract the fauna And then from there, we match it to establish biodiversity targets And this becomes the basis for us to design the landscape conditions for the building So the build becomes a total living system So to construct ecosystem is actually taking an inert, inorganic chunk of concrete and steel and glass, and make it into a living system And that’s what I think I could be doing, is to design buildings as living systems, and this is what I’ve been trying to do for most of my life Now between two V-shaped buildings, you have nexus, and the access joins to a monument near the waterfront, which was also designed by us about six or eight years earlier, that we again won in a competition And that’s the monument with the surrounding buildings and the Ministry of Finance in between And you can see the access from the site across a promenade, down to the monument, and that the other dotted line shows the boulevard that goes straight up to the prime minister’s office So it’s an important location for me, and an important, highly visible project This view of the promenade with also some seating spaces which we try to make it a little bit more organic and less regimented The aesthetic was the idea of a diamond, because there’s not much location So as far as the facade, we use the second skin, which is glass with a fritted pattern as a sun-shade And we had to have, according to our engineers, 50% solid, 50% opaque for the facade And we had to give it a cultural identity, because this is in Putrajaya And so we used a songket pattern, which is the pattern which is a Malay pattern for one of their fabrics, which is used for formal events The building uses 136 kilowatts per square meter per annum, compared to 210 for other buildings in that locality Now the west side is different We angled so that it keeps out the west sun, and so this [inaudible] to the west side Again, we have an ecocell, where the [inaudible] the vegetation from the third floor all the way down to the basement And so this is the scheme that we did This was the idea of this side of the building, enhancing the biodiversity, and making the building into a living system Now that’s a medium rise building So what do you do with a high rise building? And so we did what we call a vertical stratification of habitats for this building we were working on And James, he was working with us James is a zoologist and was doing lighting and [? speciist ?] with us on this project And we first of all look at the ecology of the location And this is the large-scale ecological context And then we look at the one at the mezzo level And so you can see these are the green areas And these are different habitats we create in the building on the ground level in the vertical rises, in this use of terraces, and the roof garden And this is the biodiversity targets we established for this project But what we did in the high rise is to stratify So the lower levels are for dragonflies, the mid-levels are butterflies, and the second part, the third is for songbirds, and migratory birds on the uppermost segment of the building So that’s the idea of putting habitats in the vertical structure on this building we’re working on in Indonesia And these are the stratifications for this building, and eventually has brought up a series of spiraling plants going up to the top Now this bit is probably the most important bit that if I were to leave this room that must stick in your mind, because nature produces ecosystem services,

which we cannot see, because it’s invisible, almost invisible So with the ecosystems what nature does is produces oxygen, produces genetic diversity All these things, nature does it for us without human intervention And it does it for free We don’t have to pay for it Now if you take, for example, one of these a sequestering or a detoxification of human industrial waste Now this is probably one of the most important aspects that nature does, because it sequesters and simulates the contaminants, gasses that our production systems produce Now we continue to produce this, and which is still ongoing, and the consequence of this doesn’t get removed overnight And some of what we’ve done in the past continues into the future Now if you look at these systems nature does for us, it is impossible for human technology to imitate, to emulate it Just a production orchard, we can’t produce enough oxygen for the whole biosphere And so we continue to destroy nature, to devastate nature The ability of nature to produce ecosystem services is not infinite It’s limited And the time will come, probably within the next 50 to 100 years, when all the ecosystems will collapse And so the idea of saving the planet is actually a very important issue So now, if we are not able to produce this technologically, one of the ways we can do this, one of the ways is to increase the green areas built in the city, to enable a larger area of organic mass to produce ecosystem services Or we can link existing green areas in the city Or we could put ecological fingers Or the fourth way is to weave ecological corridors, ecological fingers, into the built environment, or put this into our new environment And so this is a system we use, an idea we worked out, where we weave the greening and the urban conurbations like a sort of class [? plans, ?] and to bring it together And this the master plan we did for a little island in southeast Madagascar called the Reunion Island And here we brought vegetation from one side going up and up in green, and then the urban areas from the road, and the vegetation goes underneath the highway into the hills It’s a series of [inaudible] striations, because that’s the natural irrigation patterns on the particular side And so, there’s a view of this development from the hills, and that vegetation system that goes all the way up to the hills, and is the [inaudible] is going all the way down to the south by weaving two together And we had a discussion, had done some experiments, and it’s about 30 meters wide from up in the urban areas, and about 20 meters vegetation And so that’s about the pattern that we adopted for this project Now we had roads cutting across the other side Now the roads would then bifurcate the green areas So what do we do? So the solution we had was to have what we call ecological undercross You have two sides which is cut by a highway or a road in between What happens if you cut underneath a road and let the vegetation go through? We call this an eco-undercroft So in this way the ecological system is connected and a species is able to move across the landscape, to cross his fingers And the edges also must not be pristine, because this discourages species from to the edges of the green areas, and should be serrated, so it gives places for species to hide and to procreate So this is a system that we developed This is only the last, the last of four systems, which is the weaving of the organic with the inorganic in this pattern And these sort of series of ways we start to look at– I haven’t got time to show you our experience with the other three concepts, but this is just an example Now you have experts here on energy efficiency, and this is one of the things that we have to do as part of conservation energy resources, to try and move from the use of energy resource– of non-renewable energy resources, to a renewable situation Now the relationship between our buildings’ environments is we take in huge inputs of energy, materials, food, and people, and gives the outputs of waste energy with issues and so forth And this, if you like, is the model of the relationship with a Built diagram, called the Built system, with it’s natural environment And you look at energy, then it takes and inputs energy from natural resources at the moment, because the built system gives out waste heat, and some of it

can be recycled, but you know, obviously in a lower form And then he goes discharging into the environment Now what you have in Boston is a jolly cold winter Well, it’s not jolly, actually it’s a really cold winter, and a very hot summer And so, now what engineers do, is to give us consistent temperature, humidity, air change throughout the whole year, which is that red line And so if we use renewables– and sometimes it’s almost impossible for renewables to almost equate with the red line We can get as close as we can And so this is a design that we did for the idea of a building as a power station, where the building itself generates its own energy, and that’s the building is angled so that it gets the energy from the sun And according to our studies, you need at least 42% of the floor area to be with photovoltaics to make it work independently Now that’s extremely difficult for tall buildings, but probably easier for medium-rise buildings And so from there, we move on to what we call passive low energy design, which is– another word for it, it’s called bioclimatic design, where you design with the climate of the place And you shape the building, orientated in an appropriate way You design the facade and you try to make use of the optimized climate conditions of the location, and you make use of natural ventilation One of the ideas we had is what we called an umbrella building An umbrella is an incredibly useful device, because it keeps out the rain, it keeps out the sun, and lets the wind through And then you can actually adjust it depending on the direction of the rain and the sun and the wind And so this was an experiment we did back in, maybe 30 years ago, where we put the umbrella– it was this sort of louvered umbrella, which will let in the morning sun, keeps out the afternoon sun, and lets the rain collect on the roof so you can have the rain water, and will let the wind through into the middle of the roof And this was completed in 1985, ’86 This is a view showing the louvers on top of the building, which is angled to keep out the midday sun It’s not exactly north-south, you can see north is just there, but it’s close as you could, because of the site conditions We use the water as an evaporative cooling device in a swimming pool, and that’s the pool in the south on the west of the site And this is a staircase going up to the roof, and this little spiral staircase to the void in between And then that’s a passageway from the outside to the inside Is [? rahu ?] here? Where is [? rahu? ?] Oh, there you are Because your father-in-law, as he visited the buildings, said, I got to see what it’s like, starting from the outside of the building So he came in, walked out the gate, and went through the house, and this is where he went through the house And we designed the building so that to the blur inside and the outside So the building becomes a series of courtyards, we split the walls, so the building is no longer like an isolated object within a fenced area, but it blurs the relationship with the inside and the outside, and uses about 42 kilowatt hours per square meter per annum And it’s right by the woods, here it is This is the view just outside the house, and that’s a monkey outside [laughter] So that’s a house that’s completed So we carry on with the umbrella idea This is a transportation hub with a much more contemporary aesthetic The house was designed back in 1985 The owner, [? ciriac ?] the developer at that time, was using the Corbusian aesthetic And this accomplishment just won, which is the master plan for [inaudible] where, over the university hub, that’s where it is We put a glass canopy– and this aerial view of the master plan And this is another project we worked– we’re working on now, where we put the umbrella as the folded [inaudible] plates And that’s the top view of the umbrella, and that’s a side view of the umbrella And then one of the projects we just completed just outside Beijing is this train station, where there’s a folded plate, and this is what it looks like This is the master plan for the station, and that’s the roof plan for the station, which is about six lines straight across Now, from bioclimatic design, we move on to what I call mixed mode, which is low energy design And this is again in the hot humid tropics, and I’ll show one in a cold climate later on In this building, you move from– the comfort conditions move from the blue dotted line to the white, which is bioclimatic improved comfort conditions without using mechanical systems Then the dotted line shows improved climate comfort

conditions, with some mechanical ecosystem So back to this old project that I showed earlier on, we have an atrium in the middle and a ground floor These are not air conditioned spaces, and there’s some cold air being blown, you can see that the white lines And then on top of this I have an atrium, I have a glass louvered roof, and this is if you’re looking up into the glass roof, which is powered by sensors And so that you can see the atrium, in the bottom left diagram, the two blocks, A and B, which are linked by this picture indicated And then on a normal day, this all opens out, to let the hot air out And that, if it rains, it has sensors that automatically closes it This is a jazz thing, called Jelly Roll Morton, one of a salsas, “Let Hot Air Out.” And this is the view of the louvered– of the glass roof So it’s operable, it’s automated I need to extend this all the way up to the whole facade of the building, to the roof of the side of the building, so the whole building becomes a filter, like an environmental filter Now, how about a cold climate? Cold climate, like what you have And this is the project that we did in London, and London is about 52 degrees above the equator, 51 and 30 minutes, and Boston, you’re about 42, which is just below London in terms of climatic zone And what we try to do is to see whether we can make use of mixed mode Now this is the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital This was done back in 2010, and what we did was put a flue glass in front, and a flue glass wall sucks up the air from the lower floors using a valve– and that’s the valve the top– we vary the valve so that the temperature of these three spaces is only affected during the midseason, which is spring and autumn So the idea was to extend the mid season, which is the best time of the year, into a little bit into winter and a little bit into the summer, so it reduces the need for air conditioning in winter– heating in winter, and air conditioning in the summer, so that it reduces energy consumption of the building And so this is the extension to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital And so in summary, these are different energy strategies where we move from the outside climate We use passive mode to reduce its energy consumption, by usability configuration, orientation, and so forth Then we use mixed mode, and then we could possibly use productive mode And for the full mode, we try to use the most efficient systems that we can get Now the next idea that I started to think about is infrastructures Now what a lot of architects do nowadays, is to do green buildings Now even if you do a single building, it is inconsequential Efficacy is incremental, and it is totally useless if these buildings are connected to the grid, which energy source comes from burning fossil fuels And so we have to rethink how we design We should design infrastructures– start with a green infrastructure before we put in the green buildings Because once we put in a green infrastructure, then designing green buildings becomes much, much easier, and facilitates the whole city, or the urban conurbation that you design, to become green Now you talk to any green architect today, they’ll say well, there the two main structures, the green, which is not a particularly new idea for me And that, and that’s the blue, which is hydrology of location But to me there are two other infrastructures, which is the human infrastructure, because human societies provide services which makes the urban environment work, and then there’s the gray, which is technology Now the gray, there are two types of infrastructure There’s the one which is underground, which you cannot see, and the one which is how our buildings are built, so actually, infrastructure, because all the mechanical electrical systems– you know, power, service activity is taken inside, take place inside the building And so green infrastructure, green design, to me, is how we can bring all these together into a whole And so this diagram, which means, which tells us, which explains that green ecological design is integration of green with the blue with the red and the grey into a whole, and that’s a way of looking at green design And so that’s the scheme that we did in Bangalore, in India And you can see, we brought the vegetation all the way down, picked up all the vegetation from the west side, which was a forest reserve, and we stretched it across And this is the composite of all the structures together, brought into a whole We started with the spine on the forest reserve, we collect all the green vegetation species, stretch across the site as if you stretch a piece of chewing gum, and then– so that became the green infrastructure

And then on top of this, we laid the [? dombrecht ?] masterplan But what happens was that, as we saw on the other plan, when you put roads across to site, if bifurcates, it cuts the green infrastructure So the system we started to develop was not the greens undercroft, but the idea of an ecobridge, where you have two– if you have two sites, A and B, which are separated by this highway, what happens if you bridge across and vegetate? And all of a sudden, those which were previously two disparate ecosystems became one single one you can have a lot of resources to be shared So this what an ecobridge looks like But of course, the locations are important, because it relates to where the species are laid on the land And this is the view from the road And this is the sum of all these together But the water infrastructure is the other infrastructure, which is the hydrology of the land, and you need to bring the water that falls on land, not on the impervious surfaces which goes to the drains, and it’s gone forever, we bring it back into the earth to recharge aquifers in the ground water And these are different ways through rain gardens and bioswales, and detention ponds And therefore the black water, which is what we call constructed wetland, we have a series ponds This is the natural way of treating black water So it filters through this series of constructed ponds, so that by the time it reaches the last pond, it’s almost potable And so that’s the ecological infrastructures we develop for, in order– I suppose, while doing the masterplan design for the city Now I’m going to end in a minute, but I’m going to talk about another idea, which is that, if we design the city or the buildings or the urban conurbations as constructed ecosystems– well, another word for it is what I call it ecocyborg, which is a hybrid technical natural system– because you need both, you need technology and nature, nature needs technology to make it work And this is Charlize Theron in “Mad Max,” and she has a prosthetic arm And actually, if you watch the film, she actually– the arm actually falls off in one part of the film Now she has a gentleman with prosthetic devices attached to him on different parts A prosthetic arm, a prosthetic leg, prosthetic kneecap, prosthetic heart and prosthetic eyeball And out of interest, I have a prosthetic heart, I did it about eight years ago And everything depends on effective biointegration, because by analogy, our buildings are like prosthetic devices It’s artificial, it’s synthetic, it’s human-made, mostly artificial, and then has to be connected to the equivalent host organism for our buildings, for a built environment, is the biosphere In which case, everything depends on effective biointegration And I call this physical biointegration, we’re just connecting things physically, or a systemic way It works as a system Now here’s a poor lady I’m not sure how effective this is, but it has to be connected– the artificial device has to be connected to a nervous system, to a muscular system, and there are issues of getting septic, because she’s probably on antibiotics the whole day And so this is, if you like, a vision, an image for me, of my ideal future, where the built environment is a cyborg, and has exogenous systems connected to it to make it effective as a part of nature And the closest to this is this building we designed, where here, we have the ramp going all the way up, integrated with the system We have green areas tucked into the building The idea was that whenever the ramp reaches the same level as the adjoining building, it bridges out and colonizes it So it becomes a device that makes the city green And this is one of the floor plates, where you can see the vegetation going up in a spiraling fashion And this is our design for the Kowloon waterfront, a scheme that we– a competition scheme that we didn’t win And again, this was how the ecocell idea started to develop And so the competitions, for us, are actually like research projects that we hold very preciously, and we try to use it again in future projects And this is a new– must have been for a site that we are working on And these are different components of the site And this is the structures on the site So now I’m going to end These are the models that I present to you today, the model of nature, the ecosystem as ecology’s model of nature These are different models of how we could vegetation, and put organic material, biotic material, into the abiotic natural environment Idea of the biodiversity the matrix to design habitats Looking into how human buildings–

humans and their buildings interact with nature This is the model relationship of environment, and the built environment And these are some things we need to do to enhance– make a more effective idea of design infrastructures as the basis for designing master plans And that brings me to the end [applause] I think we’ll open up to questions, now I suppose so! Thank you so much I’ll kick off a question while you’re all thinking of yours Thank you so much This was incredibly inspiring, it did not disappoint I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about your material selections You talk about weaving in nature in with your buildings, and that seems very obvious But it’s very interesting how your choice of materials is definitely man-made materials So you have the technological materials interwoven with the all natural ecosystems, and there’s not really a merging of the two And I was wondering how you decided that Well actually, this is in my latest book, which I’m working on now, which should be out in about six months time It’s called “Ecomimesis.” That means designing, imitating the characteristics of nature And in this book on talk about what I call the logistic materials Because, you know, materials start from the earth, from the planet, and it goes through a number of stages It’s extracted, it’s treated, it is transported, it is fabricated, it gets transported again, it is stored, then it is assemble into a building Eventually the materials become– the building gets destroyed, gets demolished, and then has to be somehow reused and recycled and returned back to the earth So I call this the logistics of materials And what is important, is that at each stage in this process, of this flow, it impacts the environment And so, not enough work has been done on the logistics of materials The [inaudible] architects wrote a manual about 15 years ago, maybe a little bit earlier– later– earlier, in which– actually it’s a very useful manual, it’s about three inches thick It’s called [? “ur geology,” ?] and one section covers the flow of materials But this is something I’m working on now But the data isn’t there, on the consequences and materials, because it’s location specific So if it’s in Boston– how did the materials come to this, be in this building? Where does this cement come from? Where does the gravel come from? Where does the steel come, where does the glass come from? Where does the [inaudible] come from? So it’s a very, very onerous process of mapping these materials and the consequences, because at every stage has an impact on locality In principle of ecologic design, you have to– you know, everything that we do on the planet has an impact Maybe just putting in buildings, but even planting a tree can have an impact on the environment, because the species could be invasive, it could cause you– in which the impact goes not just on the site, but extends beyond the site And so yes, it’s a good question I haven’t done enough research on it I hope that somebody else after me will do it, you know, after I start pushing daisies But it means that the teaching materials at universities, schools of architecture, have to change Right? People teach materials in schools of architecture, talking about weathering, talking about junctions, talking about aesthetics, talking about how you combine another material But why don’t you teach the flow of materials, with the ecologistic materials, and the ecological impacts from the time it’s taken from the ground? Because even extraction from the ground has the impact on its location throughout this whole process, this flow into the building, and extends to what happens at the end of the life of that building, because the building has a life cycle of a its own And so this is– if you like, it dramatically changes the teaching materials in schools of architecture So building on that, reusing material, what do you see the future of– well, the future of construction companies, like the new startup companies How do these companies need to change their approach to using material and really mapping out the whole process from extracting the raw material and making it into useful things for buildings?

Yes In some ways you’ve answered the question, but not only if you look at the impact of material on the ecology You have to look at the amount of energy that’s used at each of these stages, and that at the end of process, you have to be aware of the embodied energy in the building that you design, because the energy is embodied in the materials in a building And so I’m not sure how you’re going to look at these companies, because that’s a business question, which is a separate realm of expertise I mean, you have to make them green And that means they have to rethink, in the way I see it, the way to do business And you know, as an architect, a green architect, it took me 25 years to build a brand A lot of green architects think that, having done a green building, a lot of owners think that, you know, I’ve got my green building done, it fulfills my corporate responsibility Then he goes back to his business, which is polluting the environment So what an architect should do, after we design a building, in the process of designing a green building for a particular client, is to change the mindset of your client, and tell him that he has to make his business green And if he starts doing that, then the impact of what you do as an architect is not just to one particular building, but exponential It could extend to all the clients you work with And that’s what we should do with these companies, tell them they need to start from scratch, and look at the business as a whole, how to make it green, how to make it– design it in what economists call today a cyclic economy, in which everything is recycled, reused, until it exhausts the useful life material Then it can go back into the environment and replenish the environment in a seamless way, rather than go to a landfill somewhere, which is what’s happening with all the materials that we use now, and help the environment Yes ma’am Thank you so much for, you know– I really appreciate the perspective on like architects and designers as designers of habitats I am really curious, though, about the social, economic, and political dimension of the construction of these, and how we can think of– for example, the skyscraper We’re still designing skyscrapers, and even though it might be a green skyscraper– you kind of alluded to that– the business that’s running a skyscraper might not be green But also skyscrapers are very much the epitome of a kind of social and economic equality, and they’re kind of like mass consumption So it’s like– I know you talked a lot about how nature gives us a lot of things for free, but in a way, maybe we should stop thinking about nature as giving us things for free but sort of like giving us a degree of a sort of responsibility Asking for a kind of degree of responsibility from us as designers, to kind of give back And I’m wondering about that sort of dimension to your project Social, economic, political aspects, good question Now my contention is, everything starts with we as human beings, our mindset towards nature, how we should see nature as not as resources to be exploited, not nature that we can use willy-nilly So our mindset has to be a green mindset, has to be towards deference to nature Because humanity’s mindset determines the social, economic, political institutions he creates, which then determines the physical systems that we build and make, which then has impact on the environment Everything starts with us as human beings, so we have to change our mindset Now how are we going to change that? I don’t know, through education, and there are behavior experts could change But everything has to start with human beings Now the idea of skyscrapers is not a difficult one, but it relates to the idea that about 20 years ago, I decided that the skyscraper as a building form is not going away, because it’s one of the solutions that people have adopted to address urban– rural to urban migration And so I thought, well if it’s not going to go away, if it’s going to continue to be built, then we should make it as green as possible, as sustained as possible So it’s, you know, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it So we have to make it as green as possible, and that’s what I try to do But I don’t ever create a skyscraper It uses a third more energy or materials than as you would in a normal low-rise to mid-rise building You’re right, it’s a good question I’m not sure how to answer it, because every city in the world is building skyscrapers And you know, in my skyscraper lecture, there are different ways of handling urban– rural to urban growth You can either expand the city boundaries, which

means you have to build into forested or arable land, or you build a satellite city, like Milton Keynes which then becomes a high energy solution, because the satellite city and the metropolis, or the main city, has to be linked by high speed, high energy situation And so most city fathers go for the first solution, which is to optimize existing land use and find the brownfield sites, the under utilized sites, to develop on these, to accommodate rural to urban growth And so its a difficult question, that is a difficult situation, or issue, because skyscrapers are not going away You have to deal with it, you have to cope with it And when you have to do it, then I would say, make it as green as possible And would we want the skyscraper to go away, if we consider the alternatives, and the transportation, energy, and resources into the equation? Yes If we are to build skyscrapers, build them on top of transportation hubs So then, what the plan is called, transportation development, so this reduces the movement and the use of energy by private cars But the change has to come at the socioeconomic, political level, which is beyond the control of the architect You have to bear in mind that we are just service providers, we are not particularly powerful people Nobody listens to architects Sometimes I wish I was a doctor, because you tell a lady, take off your clothes, I’m your doctor, she’ll take her clothes off But tell a lady, take off your clothes, I’m your doctor, she said, bugger you So you know what I’m trying to say is that we are not politically powerful people But what you could do is to change the world by example So just do exemplary work that then has a great impact than just proselytizing what you do to a larger audience Thanks so much for your presentation I was curious about the success of your projects in attracting the fauna that you had in mind, especially because you might have influence over the entire site, but say your site is surrounded by other kinds– like, in the context of an urban fabric that doesn’t have much support for ecology, I’m wondering how successful the projects are in attracting fauna what they don’t have the benefits of the French condition? Well, that’s an argument I am currently having with my ecologists, because he contends the city is an ecosystem And so finally he conceded that a city is a semi-ecosystem, but I have to explain to him, a city has a very small amount of green areas, habitats, for species And that because of the habitats are disparate, they’re not close to each other, the interaction is extremely difficult And so one of the things you need to do, as you see the world’s diagrams that I did, was to try and connect the green areas within a city So let’s say, in London, you have to connect Hyde Park with Regent’s Park, all the way down to Green Park and all the way down to the south, into Surrey if you can Or in New York, connect Central Park to Washington Square, down to Union Square, and green all the areas right down to the waterfront That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s not impossible, because you could use ecobridges to connect them Because then, life can continue, and what would happen– the High Line, what happens if it was all green? Then it could be extended with– not just as a corridor, but with ecological fingers into the green areas But the fact that the planners have to do that, the politicians have to take the stand and tell the planners to do this, and how we’re going to do that, is another issue This may be naive, but if you’re looking for lifecycle cost assessment, I would look at the Natural Step in Sweden and their work on LCAs, and perhaps talk to the architectural firm Snohetta, which is very good on all of these kinds of things Yes sir For the last couple of years I’ve been collecting URLs about city agriculture, and of that about net zero energy buildings And what I’ve noticed over the last year is how they’re converging So for instance, Daniel Libeskind has designed at least two buildings which are both net zero energy and include growing spaces And I think this will be a continuing trend, particularly

as the EU has decided that in 2030, all buildings, including remodeling, will be net zero energy California has the same kind of standard Cambridge, Massachusetts here is talking about net zero emissions as a standard How do you see these as drivers in what you’re doing around the world, not just in the EU or California or in Cambridge? Well, net zero energy, you’re very careful, because a lot of ecological designers think that the end all is lead or certification or net zero Well that to me is a technocratic solution To me, there are three possible ways of design, of sustainable design One is the technocratic, where all is, you look at the energy, you look at the systems, look at materials, look at the lifecycle So the second way is to look at it as nature centric, look at it from nature’s point of view, for ecology And so it’s not just technocratic, there’s nature centric And the third way is called anthropocentric That means humanity, from a human point of view Then a lot of anthropocentric forgets nature, it says nature is not important to us, net zero energy is not important to us, we just want to look at social systems And so you have to look at ecological design from these three points of view Not just technocratic– which I think is very good, it does not in any way dismiss this, what a lot of architects are doing, a lot of what you are doing– but has to be integrated with the nature-centric approach, which is what I’m proselytizing today, and then with the human-centric approach, where we look at the impact on human environment, on humanity Now sure, the world has all sorts of problems It’s got poverty, it’s got starvation, poor sanitation But all these issues– wouldn’t it be much easier to address these issues if we have clean environment, clean air, and clean water and clean land? And so in some ways, you have to do both simultaneously It’s not sequential, but you have to look at– provide a clean built environment, a clean biosphere And while, at the same time, we look into trying to address all these other anthropocentric issues that we have that are important to humanity Yes sir Hello Thank you for the presentation From the example you showed, the regions and surrounding environment helps on maintaining the ecosystem, like rain, humidity and temperature But how would you sustain this level of ecosystem in a region with a hot and dry climate like the Middle East? How would you find a balance to meet the healthy ecosystem, but at the same time, economically efficient to irrigate the plants for a reasonable cost? You know, that’s a very sensitive question every time I speak in Middle East, because I would say, don’t live there, move somewhere else! [laughter] Because you know, you’ve got the Middle East, where does the water come from? Water comes from the desalination It was ridiculous You have to use energy to make the water desalinated, so you can use the water, and not be wasting water So why can’t you move to an area where there is natural water rather than treat it? And that’s the– the only species we have are the desert species and insects and that type of fauna So we should not be living there Dubai is a mistake! But you go to the Middle East, give a lecture and talk about this, my god, I’ll be chopped into pieces, you know? I’ll be [inaudible] sushi in the Middle East! [laughter] With the weather outside, I would say, why are we living here? Yes, over here Just in relation to the issues that you’ve been discussing, how would you define your boundaries, from ecological perspective, when you work on a project? Is it the building, Is it the neighborhood, is it the island that you’re working with, is it the world, right? Is it tyrannical in a relation to the different elements that you’re working with? A material has a certain boundary conditions, versus the other systems that you’re working with, the humans, the animals, and so on and so forth? Yes, good question It actually starts– you have to design, at a number of levels, from the macro, to the meso, the micro, to the nano Nano means the microbes and the organisms in the ground Micro means the ecosystems and it’s biome, and then there’s the bioregion, that’s the meso, and then the macro will be the biosphere as a whole And so you have to make choices You cannot cover everything

One of the best conversations I had is with the famous Indian architect called Charles Correa And then one day I was having a conversation with him, and I said, Charles, there’s so many things you have to consider in designing And those of you who are around in the 60s will know that there was a huge movement in design methods, particular people like Chris Jones, who wrote the book on design methods There’s so many things to consider in design, which one do you take, what should you consider first? And Charles said to me, you can’t, you cannot cover everything Impossible But you have to use your intuition to select the best and most correct way, because that’s the best you can do as an architect Then I said, but that’s very variable He said, that’s why, being an architect, you have to heighten your sense of intuition, so that after a while, you know that your intuition is almost, you know, almost spot on You know when I did a National Library in Singapore, we won that in a competition We had a pretty manager, who was a general from Oklahoma You know, a real OK type accent, and whenever he wanted, it slips out And I did 25 designs before this scheme was effected Can you imagine doing 25 designs for a particular project? Until [inaudible] comes out and says, stop pissing around kid, just do whatever he wants, and then let’s get on with life, you know? So I said, no no no, I just want to do what I think is good for the site So finally I went to the boss of the library, and I said, look, Dr [? chia, ?] I said, this is what your project manager wants me to do, and this what I want to do But I brought a professor from the National University of Singapore, and the boss of the National Library couldn’t decide He said, well, talk to Dr. Lam, who is now a professor at Pittsburgh, at Carnegie And Dr. Lam says, go back to Ken’s design, because it resembles his first design that he did intuitively, and not the 24 other designs he did afterwards, because that’s the best design Because the first design, you did it intuitively, you got it right the first time But don’t try and think too much about it and change it And so in that sense, the way that he would answer your question, accept that you have to intuitively heighten your sense of your gut feeling and intuition, that you try post-rationalize it later on This is a great sort of design debate, whether design is a priori or post priori Do you design first and justify later on, or do you justify it first and then you design later on? And so, most times, I design it first, and then I’ve said, have I done the right thing? If not, then I’ve modified, intuitively choose the right solution That’s the best we can do, because if you start thinking too much about it, the project will go to another architect, you know? [laughter] My question is– over here Oh, there you are Oh yes, ma’am Oh, it’s you So it’s about whether– it’s about whether your building produces knowledge? Buildings what? Produce knowledge, ecological knowledge Have you considered doing a bio blitz of these corridors and landscapes that you put on buildings? A bio blitz or is a count of biodiversity and then measuring what’s there against the target And I think– have you convinced, you and your ecologist, of asking the client to fund this kind of research afterwards? Because it would be a fantastic, fantastic form of producing knowledge about the strata of ecological– Well, you know, we treat our workers as research, in the sense that we cannot do all the research at the same time We do research different levels, and then have a computer project where we put everything together and compile these into a book So that explains my books But one of the things we’re trying to do now is, what you say, is to assess the biodiversity diversity of the site Now that again is controversial, because sometimes, most ecologists don’t agree, and they get real annoyed with you, because I said, I would turn the one man’s flowers into another man’s weed And the method– there are different methods of measuring biodiversity The latest one is called ESII It’s just an acronym we should Google, because it’s developed by somebody in the west coast But that system they developed is only particular to the climate conditions in the west coast of the US They will finally extend it to the east coast,

and throughout the whole world, but they haven’t got to that stage yet But it’s a pretty good system You should check it out, because– for measuring the biodiversity consequences of a particular design Well, otherwise– you can’t just go all over the place I mean, ecologists, you know, with due respect to them, they’re not particularly mentally organized people, you know? Not like architects Yes sir Back here You know, I admired your work since I was a student here a long time ago, and I absolutely share your Arcadian dreams, so to speak But I have a question about transformation, and about the conceptual difference between the robust precision of a machine on the one hand, and the resilience of an ecology on the other hand So the question is about, how do you deal with the transformation, with life cycles, with adaptation, with the kind of flexibility which we need and enjoy in truly natural systems? How do you apply this type of thinking to your built work? Well, to be honest with you, I don’t know I have to think about it But in retrospect, you having all of this experience, would you want to have more flexibility in your buildings? Would you– do you think they work well as they are? Do you think there should be more flexible? Because I think the biggest danger of green buildings is they’re featurism That we believe we have solved the problem by reaching certain KPIs, but in the end, we just solidified a particular expectations into concrete and glass, and these expectations might be completely wrong Well, everything you say is true, because I’ve done some– not for all my buildings, maybe 10% of them, we’ve done post occupancy evaluation, and– well, a lot of times, a lot of things that we did don’t work And so we try and learn from what we’ve done, and that we try correcting in our next building For instance, back in the 80s, I did a building where I put– have planters And we didn’t allow for an irrigation system that removes the rain water from the planter And so sometimes the rain was so intense that it covers the whole planter, it overflows to the balcony, into the floor, destroys the carpet, which we had to compensate So now we have to design the roof gardens and balconies with secondary irrigation, not just below the planting area, but on top of the planter, so that if you get any water that overflows above the surface of the planter area, it is drained off And so these are some of the things– these are some of the things that we live and learn, and that is an expensive lesson But what I’m trying to say is, not everything we do works And I have to admit it, because what we do is very experimental And we have to be honest about it, it’s not 100% effective We just– it’s an ongoing experiment, if you like There are not enough people to do what we do, because to be frank with you, my generation is a dead loss, because none of us have been brought up in ecology The future is with you guys, you have still the opportunity to learn ecology, whereas most architects that I meet today, all the famous architects, all the Pritzker Prize winners, you know– the level of arrogance is incredible They deny ecology, they ignore it, and you talk to them, they just brush it aside And so my generation is a bit too late But not too late for you guys, and for the next generation I think this will be the last generation– Sorry, let me answer this quickly Because in 10 years’ time, all of you will design green buildings as authentically, and even better than, any of us can do it Now that’s a good sign, because you see, architecture– the purpose of architecture is to make people happy Green buildings is just one part of process, one of the sort of separate things that we do So when you’re able to make buildings green, then you’re focused on what architects should be doing, which is to give pleasure and give happiness to people And that’s the power of architecture And that’s what you’ should be focusing on, beyond just green buildings, because I just happen to work in green buildings because nobody’s doing it, and nobody is doing it to the level that I would like it to be done And so the future is with you guys If you just make– not just green buildings, because you should do buildings, green buildings are second nature But to design buildings to make people happy,

to give pleasure to the lives Now let’s say, if you do an office building that gives pleasure to its users, or design a house that makes the family extremely happy and live a wonderful life Your whole purpose of being an architect is fulfilled Because that’s what we should be doing And it doesn’t cost an awful lot of money to do this, I can give some examples of why you don’t need an awful lot of money, but we run out of time So, well, thank you very much Time to go get some nosh Thank you for coming [applause]