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  • Davide

Our mission: Ecological design

I was recently invited to discuss the 2030 UN Global Goals and summarise our mission and sustainable values. We feel that sustainability is the most exciting part of our projects: it requires a lot of collaboration with experts in their field. We like to share knowledge and hope that the below is useful.

Our mission is to expand the agency of ecological design.

Why did we chose this mission and how can we make it happen? When I started working in the UK, I chose to use my research platform, Unagru, as a host to kick start a new architectural practice. Right from the outset, I wanted to integrate urban ecology and architecture.

Unagru means ‘one crane’ in Italian and the pun of referring to both the bird and the machine-for-lifting in both languages. I like how the double meaning expresses both the natural and artificial simultaneously. Questions of how natural and artificial our environments want to recur constantly in our profession.

Unagru has now grown into a solid architecture practice that has produced many private residential projects. We always try and bring these into a wider-scale investigation into ecological and urban matters. We also like to submit ambitious competition entries that address these issues at every scale: from the room to the region. We are well placed to combine the European and the British, the urban and the architectural, and the ecological and aesthetic.

I define ecological design as consisting of three components: 1. Pragmatic, environmentally friendly design solutions

2. A focus on social justice, cooperation, and ways of living together in harmony

3. Complex design processes that take into account multiple layers and scales.

Through practice, I realised it is challenging producing effective ecological design on a small scale. We look to overcome this and make sustainable designs that are as beautiful, comfortable, and valuable as they can be: our mission is to expand the agency of ecological design(ers)… Our three strategies:

  1. Be better practitioners. As we gain more hands-on experience, our projects integrate environmental solutions in beautiful ways. We devise low-carbon systems with our clients and collaborators. We make energy efficient homes with low embodied carbon disconnected from the gas network. We always try and incorporate sustainable urban water management systems. We encourage the use of recycled materials locally sourced from our sites.

  2. Be a research hub. Every one of our projects create new knowledge and we like to share this on our website. Research & Development grants help sustain our work without imposing any costs to the clients. Long term, we will produce even better buildings that align with our clients’ visions.

  3. Be an activist. Architects can be seen to be detail-obsessed and shy. However, we can be strong advocates for the community and we all want to make the world a better place. We need to be proactive. We need to get out there and lobby, inform, and campaign.

Unagru are starting with two campaigns in the second quarter of this year:

  1. "no more gas' (#nomoregas). The Ukraine Crisis has made the phasing out of gas even more critical. In our domestic refurbishment and remodelling projects, we help the clients to find the best ways in going electric. We will share our case studies to help others become less dependent on gas. We can advise on and test new design solutions, providing new knowledge towards a more sustainable future. We will record our processes, talk to experts and provide free guides to help everyone get on board.

  2. “far less water” (#farlesswater) Today, more than 1.7 billion people live in river basins where water depletion exceeds recharge, a trend that will see two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed countries by 2025. We will introduce robust design solutions that allow clients to use water sustainably. We all have a lot to learn and we want to create a wide network of people that help each other to achieve our goals in reducing our consumption of water.

Join the campaign! Please get in touch for your comments, ideas, questions and anything else you’d like to discuss!


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