'Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood'. This was recommended once by Daniel Burnham, US architect and author of The Plan of Chicago. His message is still apt today; only someone whose thinking goes beyond the humdrum concerns of everyday business and considers the whole in all its detail will create lasting values in architecture.
In the current issue of DETAIL Green, we also present a selection of buildings that address some of the great challenges of our time. These include the reconstruction of our shrinking cities, the creation of affordable accommodation in growth regions, the upgrading of existing buildings and, of course, the reduction of their energy balance to (almost) zero.
However, thinking in detail about the entirety also means looking beyond buildings alone. Climate strategies for entire cities are as necessary for the 21st century as shared concepts for buildings and mobility. In December 2011, the German Federal Ministry of Building, Transportation and Urban Development therefore completed a ‘plus energy home with electro-mobility’ in Berlin. This building (or to be more precise, its pioneering recycling concept) is also presented in the current issue of our magazine.
The building is CO2-neutral, can be completely dismantled and can generate enough solar electricity for the household needs of its occupants as well as for the operation (i.e. recharging) of an electric vehicle. It is a model for the future - at least it would be were it not for some fundamental questions it poses: Can a detached single-family house with a garage – even if this ‘only’ houses an electric car – ever be a model for sustainable building? There is, of course, a market demand for single-family houses, and the less energy they consume, the better. Moreover, electric cars store electricity; they are facilitating the transition to the post-fossil era.
But why should politicians be content to merely follow the laws of the market instead of actively helping to shape them? Even if there were only plus-energy houses with electromobiles in all areas with single-family houses in Germany, not a hectare of housing land would be saved, not a square kilometre less of natural space would be criss-crossed by roads and traffic jams on motorways would not be a single metre shorter. A really sustainable mobility culture must therefore start on the urban level. Plus-energy buildings with electromobility can be a component of this – if they are planned in a typology that is compatible with the city and are also actively marketed against this background. A mere replacement of technologies in existing structures – electric drive instead of combustion engine, PV-powered heat pump instead of gas heating – does not go far enough.