Photo Credit: Sergio Grazia

Celebrating Earth Day: Reimagining Our World with Sustainable Design

This Earth Day, we celebrate two projects that used the power of architecture to create a more sustainable future. Two remarkable projects, MULTI in Brussels and Art’chipel in Marseille, showcase how innovative design can respect the environment to help us feel a connection to our surroundings.

MULTI as an Example of Urban Regeneration

The Brussels-based MULTI, designed by CONIX RDBM Architects, is a shining example of sustainable transformation. What used to be a dark and uninviting building, has been transformed into an urban space exchanger, a catalyst for the pedestrian zone and a connector for the public spaces in the area, with a focus on environmental responsibility.

MULTI is an exponent of ‘Brusselisation’ and a part of the Manhattan Project, an urban planning project for Brussels in the 1960s. Investigations into the current performance and potential of the existing building in the areas of sustainability and transformability have led to the creation of a high-performance, city-living project. The creation of the pedestrian zone was possible by maximising public access through the building, updating several public places and their potential—such as the urban terraces and city gardens—and by establishing the open spaces around the building as urban public areas with character.

The project prioritized circularity, reusing 87% of existing materials. This impressive number involved preserving the building’s structure and incorporating materials from other projects through a process similar to “urban mining.” With an additional 11% of recycled materials, the project’s total use of circular materials reached a remarkable 89%.

But MULTI’s green credentials go beyond reuse and urban transformability statistics as the building is carbon neutral and completely fossil fuel-free. This achievement contributes significantly to a cleaner urban environment.

Art’chipel’s Harmony in Urban Living

In Marseille, France, Oxo Architectes’ Art’chipel project takes a different, yet equally compelling, approach to sustainable design. A stunning residential complex with 344 apartments, designed by Manal Rachdi, blends perfectly with the lush greenery of its former site, the MGEN regional headquarters.

Respecting existing biodiversity was the most important part of the project’s vision. Fostering a harmonious coexistence between nature and urban living, two of the six buildings have already been completed, while the grand unveiling of the remaining buildings is set for September 2024.

Both MULTI and Art’chipel prioritize energy efficiency. MULTI’s innovative design minimizes the need for artificial cooling, while Art’chipel’s form optimizes sun protection and encourages natural ventilation within each apartment.

These projects are more than just an example of functionality. They create livable urban spaces that promote a connection with the natural world. MULTI’s open spaces create a vibrant public area, while Art’chipel offers residents access to their own little piece of nature.

As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s use the innovative spirit of these projects to inspire us to demand more from our built environment. By prioritizing sustainable design practices, we can create a future where humans and nature thrive in harmony.