As we move further down the path of adeveloped planet, the structures we are designing and building are becomingmore and more sophisticated. Innovations in technology, integrated buildingsystems and construction techniques have given way to a new generation ofarchitecture where automation and environmental adaptation have edged the builtworld a bit closer to a balanced symbiosis with our ever-changing ecosystems.
And it’s more important today than ever to besmart ourselves about how our impact on the planet is shaped in the future. Ifwe apply rigorous design principles to the cities we develop, the architectureitself will act to lessen that impact without the need for us to constantlyfiddle with the thermostat settings. The buildings on this list are smartbecause they react to changing conditions and react accordingly, resulting inenergy efficiency, durability, or just making our lives a little bit lessstressful.
These are the world’s smartest buildings.
This Middle Eastern marvel is a modern take onthe traditional Arabian wind tower. It consists of two opposing sail-shapedtowers, spanned in between by three massive wind turbines that providerenewable energy to the structure. The building also features an integratedsecurity system and streamlined communications, electrical, and mechanicalapplications. This structure responds not only to the growing needs of thebusinesses that occupy it, but to its environmental and cultural context as well.
This energy efficient smart building is one ofthe Middle East region’s very first LEED Platinum awarded designs. Thearchitects and engineers have installed an integrated system composed of wiredand wireless sensors that actively monitor energy usage, sun exposure, andinterior temperature control. It also happens to be the central hub for whichPacific Controls remotely maintains off-site structures that have institutedsimilar systems contracted by the company. This building led the charge forDubai to become a mecca for some of the world’s most sustainable buildings.
These twin towers in Abu Dhabi are wrapped ina responsive, active shading system that opens and closes like a flower’spetals depending on desired exposure to light. The design for these shades areinspired by the geometric patterns and designs found in ancient Islamiclatticework, which imbues the design with a direct tie to the past. It is one ofthe most impressive dynamic curtain wall systems ever built, and is controlledby a central nervous system that is constantly monitoring changes in weatherand temperature.
While NASA is better known for their effortsto explore the furthest reaches of our universe, this building proves theirdedication to all things planet earth as well. This facility in Californiautilizes technology typically found in guidance control mechanisms in airplanesto monitor and adapt the structure to fluctuating ecological and functionalcontext. The system also provided real-time data on air flow and temperature inorder to establish a zone-based computer model of how to best regulate interiorclimate and air quality.
This towering skyscraper in the heart ofDurham, North Carolina features a sophisticated monitoring system that allowstenants to view energy usage, HVAC efficiency, data consumption, and lightingloads on a floor-by-floor basis. This information is analyzed by a team ofengineers who look for specific issues in the building’s performance, thentweak things accordingly. In addition, two large tanks beneath the buildingharvest and collect data on rainwater, all in an effort to best irrigate arooftop garden and a park that sits adjacent to the structure.
Hong Kong’s first zero-carbon emissionsbuilding is a world leader in integrated building systems, sustainability, andeco-friendly design. It couples a variety of passive climate control featureswith active ones like a cool beam system, high-volume-low-speed fans, and acentral nervous system that controls efficiency and reduces energy consumptionby over 25 percent. This central hub also gathers real-time informationregarding solar collection, data usage, and climate control and then adapts theother systems to establish a balance with the surrounding environment.
Heralded by many as “the world’s smartestbuilding,” this office complex in Amsterdam is leading the charge inintelligent design in Europe. It features a 15 story atrium space that acts asboth a bustling social space and a temperature-controlled buffer between theactual office spaces and the outside environment. Additionally, the officeswere designed with the future in mind, relying on a flexible collection oftechnologies that allow workers and businesses to use them as their needs ebband flow. All of this is wrapped in a technology-driven approach to systemsintegration that keeps the building operating at maximum efficiency no matterhow it is being used.