Green buildings

Buildings blend into landscape

Image credit: Wolbert Van Dijk

Anchor the form of the building in its surroundings

Use the natural characteristics of the site itself and its surroundings to determine the size and style of a building. Position the building according to climate, microclimate, topography, existing trees and water. Connect the building to these characteristics by providing views to and from the landscape and creating physical links for people. The urban cityscape is also a type of landscape that can guide the principles of a building’s design

Encourage the multi-functionality of buildings

By combining functions and uses within buildings, such as parking below offices or retail under housing, more room is left in the urban landscape for green spaces. Green can also be incorporated into the building itself through the use of green roofs, green walls and atriums.

Use the landscape to help create energy-efficient buildings

Energy usage inside buildings can be reduced by using the landscape as insulation in the form of green roofs, green walls or semi-underground spaces. The orientation of buildings and the location of windows should be designed based on the position of the sun and prevailing winds. Water management of a building site can be combined with architectural and landscape design. The location of the building should not interfere with the natural drainage patterns of the site. Green roofs moderate water runoff, and storage areas for water allow buildings to re-use grey water for toilets or irrigation. The use of local materials adds to the sense of place to a building while also reducing the carbon footprint.

Blend the landscape into the buildings

The surrounding landscape can also be extended into, over or around the buildings. Landscape design can be used to enhance the character of the site and create a balance between the architecture and the natural characteristics of the site and its surroundings.

Capture the sense of place and use the natural characteristics of a site to inspire the design of buildings.

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Benefits of blending

  • Saves on energy costs inside the building (cooler indoors in summer and warmer in winter)
  • Enhances the sense of place
  • Encourages sustainability practices in the design

…Ypenburg which is located next to the Delftse Hout nature reserve. “Here, ecologists, city architects, landscapers and real estate developers teamed up. The final result gave the Ypenburg residents the impression they were living in a natural beauty spot as opposed to actually living next to it…”

Willem Weeda, Mostert de Winter in The Green City Post 2011


New and existing developments

In new development:

Situate buildings based on the existing conditions of a site and use them to the design’s advantage.

In existing development:

Connect the building to its surroundings by providing views to and from the landscape. Combine functions by creating parking garages in the city to make room for more urban green spaces.