The Gherkin in London, the HSBC Building in Hong Kong, the Apple Park in Cupertino, La Garenne Colombes in Paris, the South Beach in Singapore—all of these properties have challenged the notion of what traditional architecture is, and showed the world how the architectural envelope can be further pushed once you design for the community which inhabits it and the natural spaces it will inhabit. “[A building] has to [participate] in the life of the city. It has to, obviously, work very well for its use and intentions,” says David Nelson, Head of Design at Foster + Partners, the international architecture firm whose resume includes the aforementioned properties, among a diverse portfolio of award winning developments. Something else all Foster + Partners developments have in common is they have sustainability at the heart of each structure. They take a holistic approach to this: from the detailed research they do on the physical and anthropological context of the area they’re developing, to the commitments they have made to numerous green organizations globally, to the transparency they exercise to ensure that their own best practices do not violate the commitments they’ve made.
It takes someone with particular experience to remember buildings do not exist in a vacuum, they’re meant to be inhabited, to be used, and to thrive in the context in which they’re built. Foster + Partners does extensive research on the community and surrounding areas their developments will inhabit. Having a full image of the community they build in informs any sustainability feature they apply into the design. While weather patterns are the more obvious contextual clues which helps the firm make design decisions, Foster + Partner takes it a step further by exploring the anthropological context: what kind of person is using the space? Are there any historical building best practices that local culture may have that already solves the problems we encounter in the space? Making these the guiding principles of design ensures any Foster + Partners development is not only futureproofed, self sustaining, and community building, but also useful and optimized for its target audience.
Read more: The Philippine Star