New Zealand Commercial Design Trends Series NZ Commercial Design Trends Vol. 30/6 - Page 54

Market sector Sustainable design PEOPLE COME FIRST High-performing buildings where people are happy, healthy and productive make sound economic sense – Paul Tuckley, New Zealand Green Building Council There is a Maori saying: He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It asks, what is the most important thing in the world? The people, the people, the people. Since the very first human settlements, buildings have been designed with one key purpose in mind – to meet the needs of the occupants. Agriculture was the primary driver for the development of Stone Age settlement, and up until the industrial revolution much of humanity remained tied to the land. We are now living in a society that is far removed from our evolutionary environment, with more than half of the world’s population now living in cities. In the developed world, we spend as much as 90% of our time in artificial indoor environments that are a vast contrast to our natural state, and for many of us this means long hours in commercial office buildings. 52 SEARCH | SAVE | SHARE AT Winston Churchill famously said, “We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us.” This is a very astute observation that suggests that the building reflects the qualities and aspirations of those involved in the creation, whereas once the building is occupied the people take on the quality of the building. While this is certainly true the impact can be both positive and negative. Many of us are still prepared to work in office environments that have more in common with zoo cages of the past. Offices that are not designed with the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of occupants in mind can contribute to psychological and stress-related illnesses and impact on productivity, learning and creativity. Biologist Stephen Boyden defined (1971) the optimum healthy environment as “the conditions that tend to promote or p ermit the optimal Above:New Zealand Green Building Council director of membership and communications, Paul Tuckley, says there is a big gap between the actual and perceived costs of green buildings. Such buildings are perceived to cost about 25% more than the actual cost. Below:The Meridian building, the first certified Green Star building in New Zealand, has a 5 Green Star rating. Right:A translucent double facade on the Geyer complex traps and utilises warm air in winter and opens up to provide cross ventilation in summer. The project, by Patterson Associates, has a 6 Green Star rating.