The academic world has always been a driving force behind the virtuous change it wants to promote, so the same architecture created for universities often becomes a manifesto of the innovative ideas they propose to the community. For our best-of list, we have chosen three projects relating to universities and one to schools.
We begin with a project that is particularly close to our hearts, namely, the work carried out by the Lebanese architect Karim Nader
in Beirut, in response to the damage caused to many school buildings by the devastating explosion in its port just over a year ago on 4 August 2020. The Lebanese architect, together with architect Ivana Nestorovic
, supervised the renovation of 10 public schools
in the western part of Beirut with the specific aim of giving children the chance to return to school as soon as possible. This is an essential gesture in a city already suffering from a highly compromised political and economic situation, where educating children is fundamental to giving them at least a semblance of a "normal" life. In this sense, Karim Nader's interventions lead to tangible innovation for the benefit of the students. And they do so through new opportunities and the necessary stimuli to overcome their traumas.
The three projects for research institutions presented here, on the other hand, are based on the exact intrinsic sustainability, which is helpful for creating genuinely innovative structures.
The Naturalis Biodiversity Center
, by the Dutch architectural practice Neutelings Riedijk
, was renovated and expanded as the National Biodiversity Research Institute in Leiden, the Netherlands. The result is a set of sustainable, existing, and new buildings in which space has been created for more than 200 researchers and the institution's important collection dating back to 1820. All this in a now truly spectacular container.
The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design
at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, designed by Lord Aeck Sargent in collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership
, is an example of excellence in sustainability. The building also won the AIA COTE® Top Ten Awards. This academic building reduces embedded carbon through its primary wooden structure. In contrast, the secondary structure uses wood salvaged from an adjacent building, 100% recycled bricks and other timber from trees felled during a hurricane. All of this, of course, following the Living Building Challenge standards.
Now let's move on to the Institut des Mobilités et Transports Durables (IMTD) and the Institut International du Management (IIM)
of the Polytechnique Hauts-de-France (UPHF), both built by French architecture firm Coldefy
in Valenciennes in Northern France. They fall into the category of international science parks. In their construction, in addition to the materials and passive strategies used to minimise environmental impact, much attention was paid to landscaping. So now there are several landscaped areas, including two patios in the centre of their basement and a large green terrace on the roof.