ARCHITECTURE THAT MAKES US FEEL GOOD
Have you ever stopped to think how you feel when you step into an office or when you get home after a long day at work? Or when visiting a hospital? Many of our emotions are interconnected with spatial layouts, although we aren‘t always aware of it. Architecture plays a fundamental role in this aspect.
In this article, we are going to talk about architecture that makes us feel good. Will you join us?
Architecture and health
The first thing we must ask ourselves is if it is possible for architecture and decoration to have an influence on our personal well-being. The answer is more than evident: yes. More than five thousand years ago, Taoists explained in their Feng-Shui doctrine that aesthetics and placement of objects, as well as spatial layout, are directly related to the flow of energy that surrounds us. And this, of course, affects us on a daily basis.
«Designing buildings means taking an ethical position with respect to people who are going to occupy them. Creating architecture for people means taking many factors into account, such as using light, design and acoustics in best way», explains Spanish architect Luis Vidal –pioneer in healing architecture– in statements collected from Portafolio.
On the other hand, the World Health Organization explains that «whether people are healthy or not is determined by their circumstances and environment. To a large extent, factors like the place where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income, level of education and relationships with our friends and family all have a considerable impact on our health».
A practical case: a hospital
Let‘s use a hospital environment as an example. We often find hospitals designed in a purely functional way. However, the patients in these buildings require something more than just treatment. They need to be listened to, to stay calm in stressful situations, to be comfortable, etc. The architecture of hospitals can alleviate pain.
Built almost a hundred years ago,Paimio Sanatoriumnear Helsinki (Finland) represents this idea. It was created by Alvar Aalto, who revolutionized modern architecture by adding humanity. Despite its age, it is a perfect example of a building that covers the needs of the ill; from its yellow stairway –providing a sense of hope– to the low railing on the rooftop so tuberculosis patients could sunbathe or enjoy the views of the surrounding birch tree forest. Today‘s regulations, for example, do not allow this.
Slow architecture and wellbeing in homes
Six factors influence wellbeing in homes: physical space, psychosocial, thermal, acoustic, lighting, safety and maintenance, as explained in the study Wellbeing in Homes. Design Guide for Sustainable Living, published by the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Housing Institute of the University of Chile, the Technical University Federico Santa Maria and Fundacion Chile.
To achieve wellbeing in homes, certain disciplines are necessary, such as slow architecture, which seeks to slow down the fast-pace lifestyle of our society. This is achieved by creating open spaces and taking maximum advantage of construction materials and energy consumption. Natural ventilation, open structures for light to enter and natural insulation are essential for architecture to provide wellbeing.
At AYMA we undertake all areas of construction: from industrial buildings to ports to housing developments. And not only projects. We also take care of licenses, permits, expert witness and other reports.
NEW STANDARDS OF SUSTAINABLE MINING MANAGEMENT FOR UNE
The Subcommittee 3 ‘Sustainable Mining Management’ of the Technical Committee of Standardization CTN 22 has worked intensively to develop new UNE standards of sustainable mining management, which update those of 2015. These standards have been published and can be seen on the UNE website:
- UNE 22480:2019 Sustainable Mining Management System. Requirements.Replaces UNE 22480:2015
- UNE 22470:2019 Sustainable Mining-Mineral Processing-Metallurgy Management System. Indicators. Replaces UNE 22470:2015
Expanding the area of application of standards for metallurgical transformation and extractive metallurgy is one of the main novelties of this regulation. It adds to mineral processing and concentration in the previous version, which made it necessary to create and include UNE Standard 22470, with various indicators and parameters applicable to the expansion.
Facilitate environmental objectives
This new standard seeks to provide a political mechanism to promote responsible behavior in organizations that operate in mining industries, mineral processing concentration or transformation and extractive metallurgy. An attitude that maintains quality in products and services provided.
It also specifies the requirements of a system of sustainable mining-metallurgy management with the idea of giving organizations in the sector a tool that helps them achieve environmental, social and economic objectives. Requirements that do not depend on the size of the organization.
Advanced initiatives related to sustainability
This standard is aligned with the most advanced initiatives related to sustainability in general, as are the Principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the guidelines of the OCDE for multinational companies, the governing principles for companies and human rights of the United Nations, Ecuador Principles, the performance standards of Environmental and Social (IFC World Bank) as well as a specific field of the mining sector such as Bettercoal and sector supplement for mining and metallurgy of Global Reporting Initiative.
At the root of all this, it is important to emphasize that the extraction of minerals is not a problem for conserving the environment. On the contrary. The extraction industry in Europe can be a great ally of biodiversity and conservation. Although to do so, it is necessary to break down stereotypes and prejudices.
In this way, the EU directives of the Natura 2000 Network can consider the development of economic activities in protected areas only if they guarantee the objectives of conservation. The idea is not to create sanctuaries of nature that exclude all human activities.
Extraction sites in the Natura 2000 Network
There are almost thirty thousand mines in Europe. Among them, almost one fourth are located in protected areas of Natura 2000. This shows the potential that these resources have to contribute positively to the conservation of nature. When managed correctly, the extraction of rocks and minerals does not have to be harmful to its environment, yet can be beneficial.
Among European environmental experts, the belief exists that sustainable mining has a place in these areas of Natura 2000. It is also true that the European Commission has the Guidance on Non-Energy Extractive Industries and Natura 2000, which explains how to proceed with new mine areas located within these areas.
Protection of habitats and biodiversity
While the extraction phase of a mine or quarry is in progress, it is usual to find species that coexist with the presence of workers. That is why it is crucial for mining techniques to be adapted to protect the biodiversity and existing habitat. Always with consultation from experts.
Safety and surveillance are also important aspects of what mining companies do in these natural environments. We must consider the fact that mining areas cannot be visited by tourists, unauthorized vehicles cannot pass through, and in addition, hunting grounds are excluded, making these areas a refuge for endangered wildlife.
In Spain, mining is a strictly regulated and controlled activity from an environmental standpoint. Rigorous impact studies are necessary to authorize mining projects. Financial guarantees are even required for the possible restoration of areas affected by extraction.
SUSTAINABLE CITIES, THE CHALLENGE OF THE CENTURY
The transformation of cities into more sustainable places is without a doubt one of the main challenges of this century. Institutions play a huge role in this sense, as they are responsible for facilitating and promoting green projects to make our communities cleaner and more efficient. In big cities we are beginning to see electric solutions to make transportation easier for citizens and to help reduce the large beret of pollution that hovers over some of them.
Cities have the continual problem of pollution, which, without a doubt, affects the health of their inhabitants. This is due to various factors, including transportation and construction. At an international level, communities, settlements and big cities are all candidates to receive one of the most prestigious awards in urban sustainability. The Global LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction awards technical innovation to face problems like waste management or water treatment. It also places a high value on social integration and the use of construction technologies.
At an international level, there are two sustainability levels for buildings that guarantee quality of construction and of the environment. The Breeam and Leed seals are increasingly studied in the sector and are taken into consideration when planning new urban spaces.
Leed and Breaam focus on the comfort of citizens and the problem of pollution. In addition, the areas that are certified with these labels must be well-connected by public transport, have charging points for electric cars, easily accessible recycling systems on the streets and sound pollution control.
Spain has a long way to go to catch up with Great Britain and the Nordic countries; however, innovative solutions are arising in Barcelona and Madrid that are aimed at constructing cities that are more sustainable for the environment.
One of the most complete propositions in our country is Madrid Nuevo Norte, which consists of a planning model that will completely remodel an area of the capital city to make it more sustainable and efficient. In this area, buildings will be constructed under efficiency, health and safety standards. This project seeks to revitalize the north area of Madrid by integrating existing neighborhoods and new spaces. In addition to housing, the goal is to make this part of the capital city a central point for big companies and business centers.
Changing the way we build cities to make them cleaner and greener. Stress, pneumonia and lung cancer are some of the diseases caused by pollution according to the World Health Organization. Taking care of the planet we live in means investing in our health.
MATERIALS FOR SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE
In recent years, the world of architecture has been placing a strong emphasis on sustainability and efficiency in buildings. 84 % of Spanish buildings are energy-efficient according to a study by EuroACE, the alliance of companies for energy efficiency in buildings.
Buildings have different energy efficiency ratings, just like the appliances in our homes: from G to A, A being the most energy efficient. Buildings rated as A consume 55 % less than the average and 90 % less than those rated as G. Therefore, the new goal of architecture is to create buildings that reduce energy consumption, which has resulted in the search for more efficient materials for sustainable architecture.
To start with, we have wooden buildings, which save between 50 and 60 % per year on heating and air conditioning. Houses made from wood usually take less time to build and are 30 % cheaper. This system is good for single-family homes, not for construction overall.
But not only is wood a growing trend when talking about energy efficiency, but we also have concrete. This material has many negative aspects attached to it that may not be as true as you think.
Firstly, once this material‘s lifespan is up, it is 100 % recyclable. In addition, concrete has thermal inertia –it saves energy– and allows for using renewable energy to heat the slabs –thermal activation of structures– that can increase energy efficiency by 60 %.
Continuing with the list of materials for sustainable architecture, we find baked clay. This material has to be heated at a temperature below 950 ºC. It must also undergo a series of natural treatments so it conserves its earth properties, such as hygroscopicity, insulation, low radioactivity and very good thermal inertia.
Lastly, we have insulation boards made from wood fibers on the list of materials. This product comes from waste generated by sawmills and other wood industries. It is made through a technique of applying glue and pressure. After this, the board is made with mechanical strength that is used for thermal and sound insulation. Through using different additives, different properties can be added to make it fire, insect or humidity-resistant. These panels are not suitable for the exterior, as they can absorb humidity and swell.
There are many more materials in the market that can make our buildings more sustainable for the environment. These are the most well-known and are the easiest to find to take the first steps towards sustainable architecture.
THE GREAT BOOK OF CONSTRUCTION IN SPAIN
If the Catholic religion has the Bible, gastronomy the Michelin Guide and sex Kamasutra, construction in Spain now has its own great book: White Paper on the Construction Industry in Spain. Construction 2018/19. Trends. An initiative of Cluster Mejores Edificios along with National Construction Confederation and edited by Interempresas Media.
The book was presented as part of the fair ePower&Building in Madrid, and it makes an exhaustive and detailed review of the current situation of the sector, as well as future prospects. All this draws from over fifty articles signed by representatives of major companies, institutions and experts on the subject. Because of this, the book has become the best report on the current situation, in addition to interesting proposals for the future from experts on key topics. An introduction, a presentation signed by the Minister of Development, José Luis Ábalos, an executive summary and an ending dedicated to information about sponsoring companies and entities make up the rest of the document’s structure.
The importance of the publication of this book lies in the topic of construction and addresses what it should do first and foremost. Construction is one of the sectors holding the most weight in the economic fabric of this society. Around 80 % of production is related to the current situation of construction in Spain. It makes up 10.7 % of PIB and 7 % of employment. To this we must also add the carry-over effect of other sectors and indirect job positions. As a matter of fact, gross fixed capital formation for construction in 2017 recorded a year-over-year growth of 8.1 %.
With this data, it was time for a guide, a bible, a great book of knowledge that established the where are we coming from andwhere are we goingfor construction.
TRENDS IN CONSTRUCTION: BUILDINGS OF THE FUTURE
If anything shows the history and evolution of civilizations, it would undoubtedly bearchitecture:buildings, monuments and houses and the materials and techniques used to construct them. Buildings change with the passing of time. Comfort for the citizens that use them has been what determines these changes. However, for some time now, other factors have intervened, such as sustainability and respect for the environment.
During the past few years, advances in construction and usabilityhave been implemented in avant-garde cities like Dubai, where an office building was constructed in just two weeks with 3D printing technology, which is gradually making its way to the rest of the world. We look forward to embracing new trends in building that await us in the future.
This aspect is probably the main challenge in construction. Nowadays, contamination, climate change, etc. are the main problems on a global level, and any company that makes changes to landscapes is responsible for taking these problems into account. Saving energy, recycling and durability of materials, and regulation and development of renewable energies using solar panels, wind power generators, biogas or purification and re-use of water are all on the list of things to doin construction.
During the past few months, this innovative building system has been the choice for various construction companies. Steel framingis a building technique that creates a structure of cold-rolled galvanized steel sheets that make up the skeleton frame of the building. In addition to giving the building a strong infrastructure, steel is a material with environmental benefits due to its low corrosion and high durability, and it is easy to recycle.
As in the case of Dubai mentioned above, 3D printing is poised to revolutionize the construction industry. Although some aspects still may need some work, especially in the quality of the final result, there are already projects that opt for futuristic construction. Advantages of 3D printing include facilitating the construction of models with higher precision, integrating sustainable materials like bioplastics, and reducing the need for human labor.
Passive systems allow for efficiency in energy consumption by maximizing the use of the building’s surrounding natural sources. It is a kind of architectural Aikido in construction that uses techniques, such as optimal orientation to let in natural light for as many hours as possible during the day, working with site landforms for a better distribution of space, or using natural ventilation systems, and many other techniques.
The main advantage of modular structures is to be able to build on practically any surface. Build the unbuildable. As these buildings are assembled through prefabricated cubicles or modules, they can be set up on almost any surface, at a low cost and in very little time. The modules can be put together like puzzle pieces. Although they have only been used in small projects until now, these techniques are already being considered for more ambitious plans, such as a football staduim for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
In addition to techniques directly related to construction, buildings of the future integrate other aspects like automation or Internet for everyone. Innovation is inherent in construction, and even if we don’t know exactly what is yet to come, we can be sure that any novelty must look to create a more habitable planet, both indoors and out, but more importantly, outdoors.
SOCIAL RESPONSABILITY: GOOD MANNERS IN MINING
Since AYMA Mining Solutions was founded, our way of operating has been based on sustainability and social responsibility, aspects that we have discussed publicly on more than one occasion. Because of the nature of mining, bad mining practices, such as those that occured in the past due to a lack of means or technological advances, can bring problems both for the environment and for communities near the mines. This is why good mining practices are necessary, and they are the reason that starting from 2019, AYMA will begin to offer mining companies a new service that specializes in this necessary field: social responsiblity.
Mining is fundamental for our way of life, and we must be responsible with it.
What exactly are good practices? Good practices mean exercising social responsibility. They are a series of actions that have more to do with a company’s professional ethics and collective concsiousness than with its regulations. Good practices start with the basics, such as saying good morning to your neighbor, eating with your mouth closed or letting someone out of the elevator door before you go in. They are a matter of manners, but on a higher level, and they are voluntary.
A series of actions that seek to contribute to the well-being of society.
What can these actions achieve? What purpose do they serve? These responsible practices aim to achieve the following objectives:
- Control, minimize, and eliminate environmental impact, and look for ways to compensate should those impacts occur.
- Ensure compliance with environmental laws.
- Guarantee adequate use of natural resources.
- Look for and achieve the highest level of cost efficiency possible. In other words, optimize resources.
- Avoid potential problems that could arise in mining operations.
This new service will not only benefit the environment, but it will also allow our company to improve our clients’ corporate image among the general public, communities, and competitors, which is one of the main reasons why it is important for businesses to improve in this aspect.
Just as the expert in sustainable development Jorge Alberto Velásquez says, «good practices make responsible mining development and the sustainability of affected communities possible».
BIM TECHNOLOGY MAKES ITS WAY TO MINING CONSTRUCTION AND FACILITIES
BIM technology, Building Information Modeling, has been used in the construction sector during the past few years and has resulted in many improvements, especially in SMEs. Although this method has seen most of its growth in construction, the similarities among the field of engineering in building and mining operations have allowed BIM technology to expand to this sector, where more and more practical applications are being found.
But what is BIM exactly? It refers to the modeling of information for construction. In other words, BIM is the process of generating and managing data during the construction of a building using dynamic building modeling software in 3D and in real time. If we apply it to mining, we see that in both types of operations, BIM technology provides complete information and constant updates about the building or excavation, along with attention to geometric parameters, spatial relations and geographic information. In addition, it provides precise data about the quantities and characteristics of components.
Now that we have explained what BIM technology is, let’s talk about its advantages for clients of AYMA Mining Solutions since we have integrated this technology into our company:
- Multidisciplinary workflow. BIM allows for collaboration through one single platform so that different professionals –engineers, consultants, architects, etc – can share information and perform actions.
- 2D and 3D technology. This improves the vision of the overall project and helps to avoid potential errors.
- Documentation of the project –budgets, plans, etc..– are generated automatically, which increases productivity and saves money.
- BIM also lets us know the energetic impact of the materials used in construction.
Using BIM technology implies necessary changes in a company that uses it, and it requires having the necessary conditions for its implementation beforehand, especially in the area of human resources. At AYMA Mining Solutions, we have qualified technicians both in production as well as initial phases –3D scan, thermography, digital photogrammetry, drones, modeling of landscapes and existing buildings, etc.– and post-construction phases, during operation and maintenance of the building, to complete each project.
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF CIVIL WORKS: TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD
Infrastructures are just as much subject to change as the society that uses them. It has been this way since human beings came into existence. Cities were built along the coasts or near rivers because it was practical, and through the centuries, their infrastructures have been modified for the needs of tourism and leisure.
Times change, and so do cities.
Civil works is responsible for adapting cities to these changes. Traditionally, it is the branch of engineering responsible for the construction of bridges, highways, parks, buildings, train tracks, ports, etc. In other words, it designs and modifies the environment to benefit the management of a territory and to improve quality of life for the community that lives there.
If we take a look at the evolution over the last few years in the Spanish sector, we find a period of high emigration of engineers abroad in search of construction projects, but this tendency is now coming to a stop. The reasons for this don‘t have so much to do with whether or not there are enough construction projects (the main activities related to civil works that we mentioned before), but with versatility and new alternatives that the profession is acquiring and that there are new options for the future for engineers. A great example is Bernardo Gómez Delgado, director of the Madrid headquarters of AYMA Mining Solutions, who has lead important civil works projects and currently does both that and consulting, which is non-traditional.
It may be that Spain is not yet considering the construction of a bridge like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao, the world‘s longest bridge that connects Hong Kong to Continental China; however, we are not Chinese and flights to the Canary Islands are still working just fine. In an age where changes in population and transportation and housing are occurring faster than ever, civil works must fulfill its role. The ability to take on any challenge, not just those directly related to engineering, but also a high capacity for project management will be reinforced in the education of new generations in technical colleges and universities.
In closing, we‘ll mention another example of reinvention in the sector. The article, I am an architect and I don‘t build: Welcome to the future of urban planning (Arquia Foundation), explains the need for a form of social civil works that improves the usability of large cities with respect to the needs of citizens, without spectacular architecture. It talks about a future where consultants act as “social agents” who are responsible for improving the quality of life for cities and their citizens, making sure everyone benefits from strategies, and also creating social and economic opportunities. Urban planning of the future is about new professionals who don‘t necessarily need to build”.
CAÑADA REAL GALIANA: BUILD THE UNBUILDABLE
A place like this deserves a future but better still, a present. The Cañada Real Galiana is a stock route that runs between La Rioja and Ciudad Real. The stretch that passes through the south of Madrid –the Vicálvaro district– was from the 1960‘s, an area of self-constructed and irregular buildings based on a model that was not planned by the city, Ciudad Lineal. The area is on non-developable land and is currently a settlement of people who are in many cases at risk of social exclusion. However, an agreement in 2017, which was signed by various government agencies to manage and recuperate the area, could give La Cañada a second chance.
As part of the actions taken to achieve this, the EMVS of the Madrid City Council wants to install a community activity center. This is where our team comes in.
The main goal is to build something on land that, as we said before, is non-developable. Adding to this difficulty is the need for a modern, removable and self-sustainablemodel of construction that is at the same time modest and cost-effective. It doesn‘t hurt to ask. At AYMA, this situation sounds familiar. As you already know: optimize, optimize, and optimize.
For these difficulties, AYMA‘s answer is an intelligent alternative to fixed on-site construction: Self-sustainable, prefabricated modular buildings.They are arranged in a plaza that will function as a public cultural space – a plaza that will bring a significant improvement in the area. The citizens of La Cañada will be responsible for its modifications and management. This space will also be designated for activities and workshops. The same will go for the modular buildings, which would be delivered with basic installations so they can be personalized by their users.
AYMA‘s proposition is based on the following premises:
– Industrialization. Prefabrication makes it possible to work at a factory and take the pre-assembled modules to the location. The construction time decreases, and the industrialization of the process lowers costs, leading to a satisfactory outcome.
– Application of BIM methodologyallows the factory to get the exact cutting of the prefabrication.
– High standards energy efficiency. The proposal incorporates geothermal energy, heat exchangers in ventilation and ETICS external thermal insulation composite system; reuse of rainwater and photovoltaic panels. An energetically self-sustainable building with thermal insulation above industry standards is what marks the new requirements for zero-energy buildings.
This proposal responds to all the needs concerning the rehabilitation of the area. It is not a development project. It improves living conditions.Self-sufficiency saves money and is sustainable and respectful towards the environment of this area, which was before characterized by rural and farming activity and today demands a change.