SonnenCityProjekte - Energy++Buildings by SonnenCityProjekte
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Additional comments from the Judges:
I support the "design thinking" approach that the author/s have incorporated in the proposal, but my main critique would be that they have sacrificed depth for breadth in their description. I would like the author/s to continue to work on the proposal and make it sharper.
The content of the proposal is unchanged so does not provide the clarifications being sought in the last round of feedback which is unfortunate. The financial table is still in German which makes it difficult to review the information provided. Having said the authors have include some good responses in the evaluation area and have addressed some of the key questions raised in the previous feedback. I feel this remains an interesting proposal with the possibility of having a large, direct and positive impact on our urban communities. However, I feel the proposal still lacks important information and justification of its novelty and overall feasibility.
As already stated in the first evaluation round I very much like the holistic approach that agreeably many conventional building projects of this size are missing. Many things have been thought of in the proposal, and this is how it should be done when designing such a project. That things are not commonly done does not necessarily mean that they are innovative. All parts of the concept, from ‘Level 1 - technologies’ to ‘Level 3 - interdisciplinary design’ are in the market, widely applied in many exemplary projects of this scale in Europe over the last two decades, from participatory design to stacked housing to pus energy etc,.. For this reason I find the proposal overstated. Also, some of the aspects the authors claim they cannot influence, for example where people work, and if this is nearby. It is state of the art of urban design that the workplace should not be too far from the home however this needs to be addressed at a much larger scale and seems infeasible on such a small project scale. I also doubt that cities would adapt their regulations because of such a project, and this is not only because of economic feasibility but also related to design and aesthetics. Regarding the latter I am sorry to say that I find the design of the projects not only very aesthetically unpleasing but also representing a ‘eco-tech’ design that was predominant over the last 20 years and which is the reason for the lack of a broad public acceptance of such projects. To promote renewable technologies in buildings we desperately must find new ways of design integration that are aesthetically and socially more convincing. I find the arguments in the response concerning the economics very optimistic and partly hard to follow as the technical system setup they propose is not ‘low tech’ (already heat pumps and PVT collectors cost significantly more then other ‘green’ technologies, not to mention conventional ones).
Thoughtful sustainable design ideas, and a specific proposal for 20 homes to be built in a development in Berlin. I don’t see a fit though with the nature of this contest as while every sustainable project architecture has benefits as a demonstration, it doesn’t suggest how this funding would leverage the project or ideas forward.
We are pleased to inform you that your proposal is advancing to the next stage.
This is an interesting proposal, although this seems to be more of an offer of design services than of a specific proposal to reduce emissions from the building sector. The design principles presented are good pragmatic approaches to urban design although these principles are not unique to this proposal. Similar principles have been adopted in many landmark projects. The project title refers to solid wood construction, it would have been good if the proposal had provided more information on this build system and the associated benefits in terms of lower embodied carbon etc. The Sonnen City Haus level 3 sets out some very significant efficiency improvements, however the proposal would benefit from providing some form of road map for how this can be achieved, rather than just listing the pros and cons.The proposal does not address the specific issues of regulatory reforms/ incentives etc. which would be required or recommended to support this approach. It is a very utopian idea to allow all future occupiers to drive the design of their environments but more detail is required to understand the framework within which this could happen. It has certainly been shown in similar projects that the potential impact of these design principles is significant and can positively impact those living and working within these new or regenerated communities.
The project aims at a holistic approach that addresses and combines many important issues of sustainable cities such as mobility, mixed use, user participation and others. By stacking, combining and densifying the authors aim at achieving a diverse and desired mix of living units with small footprints, right in the inner city of Berlin. The project is very detailed up to a cost / price calculation of the living units. The concept compares to similar designed and partly built examples, for example in the Netherlands or in Freiburg, Germany, however this one seems to be more strongly focusing on sustainable building technologies. The technologies and concepts are well known, in the market and applied in Europe. The interest is in synergies between different technologies, which is an important and underestimated aspect. Unfortunately which synergies and how this is different / novel is not really described. Experience also shows that this setup of technical systems mentioned is far from being ’simple’, neither in design nor in operation. Also it remains unclear how the manifold innovative yet expensive technologies will ‘decrease’ investment costs, especially if they are to provide energy surplus. Given the current low energy prices in Europe a return on invest is probably only feasible over decades, if even. Also other statements are hard to follow (why should the use of electric vehicles reduce traffic) and are lacking detail and / or evidence. I would recommend concentrating on less and providing more insight in how this is going to be achieved. The feasibility of the approach in inner cities, such as proposed, seem questionable mainly for two reasons: As these spaces are mostly maximized for revenue as land prices are high. It is hard to imagine that a commercial developer would waive exploitable space for courtyards and roof gardens etc. Moreover, programmatic, visual and building regulations are especially strict in inner cities. In general it would be good to know more about the intended economic model (less the cost calculation that is provided), development process and owner structure. It is often mentioned that participation and responsibility is desired but it is not stated how, by which means and how this is reflected by the ownership.
The proposal could benefit from a clearer structure, less redundancies and less yet more important information. The authors should provide more abstract conceptual schemes rather then detailed cost calculation that are hard to read without the context and proper description / comparison. I think the holistic approach is good and correct. Currently the proposal however reads more like a marketing brochure, some statements seem overstated. I can imagine this project in the next stage, the authors however need to address the points raised above and especially highlight originality and economic / participatory models. Otherwise this is state-of the art (in Europe) but nothing unheard of.
Jul 14, 2015
Dear Jury and Commentators – our answers to your questions, statements and suggestions: First of all we would like to thank you for the very constructive criticism you have offered us, which shows us, which parts we have to edit and improve and translate better from German to English. We realize how difficult it is to translate complex and holistic concepts in a simple and understandable way into a different language. In total we do feel understood in our ideas. We are representatives of a diverse, active and individual CityDesign based on the tradition of the historical growth to be an alternative for the 'Modern city of the 20th century'. We see one of the deeper reasons of our global energy problem in the drastic growth of our cities: the once necessary separation of structures, social standings and culture in the city itself nowadays lead to a huge -and often unnecessary- traffic volume. Statistics and economic surveys have proven that regarding the worldwide energy input of economy policy the topics of city growth and traffic cover 50%-75% of said input. That is the reason we try to set mixed building structures as our top priorities, to help support a more fluent traffic and reduce the energy used by it, which is why our focus lies upon a vast variety of target groups for users and owners: we are convinced that a reasonable combination of buildings within the city can help lighten the traffic, without constricting its inhabitants in their mobility. Your question concerning Level 3 refers to our determination, not to see every object on its own but to combine it synergetically with many other construction techniques, economic parameters and social requirements. Only with the synergetic combination it is possible for us to use energy benefits to their full potential: e.g. areal proximity can help lessen the energy used for mobility. The collective energy production can help to strengthen the social structures to the out- and inside, which would lead to an imitation effect, which in turn would lead to further social, cultural and 'demographic' bridges in our society. We were also very pleased that you immediately recognized the restrictions the regulation in most European city centers would put upon our concepts, opposing it, even if politics demand our procedure. Of course it is a huge step and task to adapt the communal city regulations for construction, but we have developed an economic concept, which would allow said adaption of regulations without larger financial expenses for the respective councils. Concerning your request about our way of building with solid wood we would like to point to the homepage of construction companies specialized on solid wood: … Of course we are very well aware of the fact that our resources of wood are limited and can only be managed to a limited extent. If theoretically we globally used nothing but solid wood for all our future buildings, we would very quickly face the problem of lacking wood for them. That is why we do not only fancy one single technique, being interested in a synergetic procedure of SunCityProjects. In some points we would like to contradict our jurors: In our opinion it is absolutely no utopic idea to allow the users to have an influence on the design of their surrounding, no, on the contrary, it belongs to the basic needs of the majority of people in this world. Unfortunately it is only possible for inhabitants of suburbs to satisfy this need in a way. We are the ones to foster this direct, immediate participation right from the beginning. The vendees can design their own surrounding themselves. Therein the vendees design the texture of their architecture, what they do not design, however, is the common construction. The jurors have brought up the question, why the use of electrical vehicles should reduce the traffic. We would like to highlight that by no means the use of electric vehicles reduces the traffic. We aim at significantly reducing the traffic by an adequate mixture of urban construction. It is only for the additional “rest of traffic” that we consider it a sensible thing to reduce the waste of fossil fuels by means of electric vehicles. We do not postulate the inhabitants to be homogenous in the way of always getting along with each other perfectly, sitting together peacefully to sort out the issues together…no, on the contrary, we base our ideas on the real situation we human beings dwell in: everyone has got his property, his limited views – inside and outside…and for the additional communication with the surrounding we offer adequate communicative areas in front of the houses that invite but not oblige to communicate. We have consolidated this the following way in our logo: handing over bearable personal responsibility + linking renewable energies + living together independently in communities = protecting resources. With great pleasure we would like to bring forth more transparency to our jurors as to the question, in how far the diverse innovative and new, partly expensive technologies can sustainably reduce the costs of investment and the operating costs, although we want to yield an energy gain with our buildings… Indeed, though, every calculation is based on the fact that every construction of building has got a focus of its own depending on its geographical position and on the purpose it is supposed to fulfill. As to this we would like to frankly explain that both our buildings and the parcel of land usually are significantly more expensive than comparable buildings per square meters of effective area outside the city. Like this we make use of the parcel of land more efficiently offering a house with a garden hidden from view in the middle of the city: We included the daily costs for trips… - also repeated trips – that can quickly sum up to costs of some hundreds of Euros per month, if a house were built away from the city – …we included these costs into the monthly financial burden of a user of our house, thus always gaining housing space with a significantly lower monthly burden. An additional effect of our City Sun Houses is the fact that their inhabitants have significantly more spare time daily. We presume that the period of amortisation will take between 10 and 15 years for the technique we use and with the currently low energy prices. As our technique which rather represents a low technique is little maintenance intensive and does not tend to easily fail, this means for the ones owning it that after five years already the energy will be free of charge. As we are convinced that the first thing our customers decide about are the costs, the “ecological rest” ranging in the second place, we have made up our mind to provide the marketing of our houses on two levels, where appropriate: We offer the house itself for the end user to a comparable price (to the one outside the city) and the technique of energy as an energy fee due for monthly pay basing on a price equal to the market price frozen for ten years. Our technique is a proven one, what is new, is the massive, concentrated, synergetic and autarchic application in the middle of the city, different and characteristic for each single project.
Jul 14, 2015