Sustainable designs by DGT

The same idea of sustainable design is shared by Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, as demonstrated by their latest projects: from the Estonian National Museum to a new design for Paris. 

At the Venice Biennale, the Parisian studio DGT (Dorell Ghotmeh Tane / Architects) was awarded the Grand Prix AFEX 2016 of French architecture in the world, with the design for the Estonian National Museum in Tartu (Estonia), which will be inaugurated this coming October.
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, Estonian National Museum in Tartu (Estonia). Photo Takuji Shimmura

It was this design – the competition dates to 2005 – that gave birth to the architecture studio with multiculturalism in its DNA and in the origins of its three founders: the Italian-Israeli Dan Dorell, the Lebanese Lina Ghotmeh and the Japanese Tsuyoshi Tane. They share the same idea of sustainable design, of inventing unexpected and unique solutions so that architecture doesn’t have a considerable impact on the environment and the planet’s increasingly limited resources. Indeed, for DGT, buildings should really be “productive”, that is, able to regenerate and give the environment resources in an active way.

Therefore, all the of the Parisian studio’s designs – many have been built, while some have not – treat the theme of sustainability between architecture and environment in a non-conventional, absolutely inventive way.

Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, Estonian National Museum in Tartu (Estonia). Photo Takuji Shimmura
The realization of the Estonian National Museum – from the competition to the actual building phase – lasted about ten years. A symbol of an emerging Estonia, this design aims to salvage a Soviet military base, extending the landing strip in cement and outlining a form that lifts off from the ground and emblematically takes flight. Of particular interest is the study and identification of this architecture’s energy aspects that – with a surface area of 34,000 sqm – hosts an impressive collection of 140,000 objects. Energy is saved thanks to a simple design solution, without resorting to complex technologies that would require constant and costly maintenance. In fact, the museum’s archive runs the ecological machine. With 10,000 sqm of ethnographic archives containing very delicate objects – made from textile, wood, paper – the archive must be kept at constant a humidity and temperature, without any surges. That’s why, besides being found below grade, it’s built with a material that absorbs surrounding dampness like a sponge: therefore, no special system, just appropriate and targeted construction choices. Outside, the building’s insulation is guaranteed by triple-chamber glass panels, along the side facades, and by cladding with a thick insulation layer.
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, single-family house for Oiso. Photo Takumi Ota
In the single-family house for Oiso, built for a private client in Japan, simple and ancient traditional housing techniques were employed. The house is made up of two distinct parts: the level on the ground floor has walls that were built with dirt from the excavation worksite, which allows the rooms to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Instead, the top floor – a large, wooden, primordial-shaped shed – is ventilated thanks to a long ribbon window. The studio has taken part in many competitions – some of which were won and later built – that deserve attention for their creative solutions regarding energy issues.
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, single-family house for Oiso. Photo Takumi Ota
In the contest for the New Science Centre of Naples, in Bagnoli, destroyed by arson in 2013, DGT studio – which ranked third – faced the theme of an area with enormous ecological problems due to pollution. Therefore, the building takes on an active role in renewing the polluted grounds due to the industrial activities of the former steelworks, Ilva Italsider. Through phytoregeneration, that is, the use of plants as veritable “biofactories” that eliminate pollution, the land could be reclaimed.
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, contest for the New Science Centre of Naples, in Bagnoli. © DGT
This entails eco-friendly technologies already employed in other European projects, including recuperating the former Falck industrial area by Renzo Piano. The fundamental innovation of the design for Bagnoli lies in compensating the excessive costs of decontaminating the land with an – economically advantageous – linked activity that creates and makes organic energy and materials, like paper. The ecological goal, according to DGT, must therefore always be supported by an economic incentive.
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, design for the stadium in Tokyo. © DGT
The design for the stadium in Tokyo also includes vegetation that is used as a resource that turns the construction into a “biomachine” active in balancing out the environment’s energy. Here, the totally green cladding transforms the stadium into a hillside the public can enjoy. In the Expo 2015 Italian Pavilion design – never built – the construction is the scenario of an itinerary that starts from a seed and ends with trash: a ramp, similar to a field, allows visitors to experience nature from sowing to harvesting, including organic waste, which is recycled, according to circular economy.
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh e Tsuyoshi Tane
Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh and Tsuyoshi Tane, design for the nineteenth-century Gare Masséna in Paris. © DGT
These concepts can also be found in the prestigious competition “Reinventer Paris”, promoted by the City of Paris, that selected, from among 360 proposals, the finalist urban designs, aimed at twenty-three locations in the capital. DGT won the contest in February 2016, with a design for the nineteenth-century Gare Masséna, a noteworthy historical example of Paris’s belt railway: a new tower-shaped building becomes part of the existing station, developing as a spiral that hosts various functions related to food and the food chain. Described by the French daily Le Monde as the most ecological design in the competition, this sort of farm tower of Babel perfectly epitomises the ideas of these architects: optimise waste – both concerning food and architecture – in an overall vision to reuse the dwindling resources of the planet while offering, at the same time, public and open spaces to live.
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