Concrete is everywhere. That’s understandable, considering its lifespan is a fair bit high as far as building materials go. Plus, concrete absorbs and retains heat well. Aesthetically, however, it leaves a lot to be desired. As it turns out, we can have aesthetically pleasing sustainable architecture without sacrificing why concrete has been used so frequently.
You can use local materials to build buildings, like blocks of compressed earth, sandbags, durable bamboo, or all sorts of other things.
Cork works great as an insulator. Even the roots of mushrooms can be used to build bricks. Most importantly, people like being near nature. We don’t always design the things around us to suit what we like, but that doesn’t mean we can’t.
Architects like Kengo Kuma aim to use local materials to give a sense of ease and healing to those who see their works of sustainable architecture. Turning away from the high-rises, he prefers to build toward the ground with whatever suitable materials he can find. Bamboo is one he turns to often, not only because it soothes him, but because the individual pieces can be more easily repaired than an entire concrete building.