The Internet is brimming these days with starry-eyed conceptual renderings of sustainable eco-buildings and forested urban bio-habitats. Although many of these visions will forever remain on paper, a few designs manage to nudge past the buzzwords, garner commissions, and actually become realized, sometimes on an impressive scale. One of the few certainties of the 21st century is that design will play at least as decisive a role as technological innovation in envisioning new energy options. Biomimicry, minimalism, efficiency, and organic design appear to be the mainstays of sustainable engineering’s future. We’ve put together a list of intriguing projects that have actually been completed and that follow in this spirit. Each design elegantly integrates progressive ideas about energy into real landscapes and buildings.
Image credit: Design Boom
Hydroelectric power plants have historically been among environmentalists’ most loathed enemies. Although hydroelectric power is renewable, dam construction can have a devastating impact on the landscape and on river ecosystems. Italian firm Monovolume Architecture offers a somewhat less invasive alternative with the Punibach Hydroelectric Power Plant, engineered by SEL AG. While there’s nothing really new here in terms of technology, the design conceals the power station’s unsightly industrial machinery while beautifully integrating it into the Alpine landscape.