Ecoweek, an international non-governmental and non-profit organization aspires to provide useful information which will be really helpful for all professionals of the sector – architects, engineers, designers etc, concerning the environmental requirements while at the same time, it will enhance the awareness towards sustainability and ecology issues. Elias Messinas, founding chairman of Ecoweek, coordinates all actions of the organization in Greece and talks to Interiors from Greece regarding the upcoming event in Aghios Nikolaos, Crete in July 3-10.
- What the Ecoweek project? Which is the target group that is addressed to?
The idea of Ecoweek started in 2005 in Aegina, as an ecology festival (the name derives from here) addressed to a wide audience. This festival focused on three main topics: energy efficiency & RER, recycling & composting and ecologic building. Since 2008, the idea of Ecoweek has been evolved into a week dedicated to sustainable design and ecologic building, including lectures and workshops. During all this time, Ecoweek has invited plenty of international professionals of the sector to take part – such as Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, BIG, Michael Sorkin etc – while principal receptors are architecture, design and landscape architecture students along with young sector - related professionals.
- What is the role of the sustainable factor in architecture?
Architecture and constructions in general has great responsibility (and perspectives) concerning sustainability. Buildings consume 40% of the produced energy and a significant rate of the first materials – wood, minerals and water. Also, buildings and cities determine and affect people’s behavior, e.g. if they will work next to their houses or they will have to commute in a daily basis, with anything this may mean for local society and environmental effects. If we change the way we design and construct, from a building to a city, given that half population lives in urban centers, we can intervene in a substantial way to our ecological footprint thus managing to live within the frameworks that local conditions and the planet allow us (One Planet Living).
Additional, the design method is of exceptional interest for the architects. In sustainable design, the architect operates as member of a group and does not provide a top-down solution. Sustainable design offers cooperation, participatory design and place making opportunities, in order for the project receptors to be also part of its formation process. This changes the up to this moment design standards as the solutions provided may concern big projects or “LQC” ones, that is to say, “lighter, quicker, cheaper”. Also, they may be more focused and relevant to the real needs of the place and the society/community around.
The principles of sustainable design, understanding of local needs and the creation of focused sustainable solutions as well as the development of interactive process in design, are the main features of the Ecoweek workshops.
- What sort of workshops and other parallel events will be held during Ecoweek 2016? Which are the objectives?
Workshops focus on the triptych “Public space – Tourism – One Planet (One Planet Living)” and will examine sustainable solutions in several levels and programming needs. The workshops agenda and locations, just like in every Ecoweek organization, were selected in cooperation with the workshop curators, Municipality and the specific needs of the city and the organizers. In this way, workshops cover a wide and varied range of topics: from workshops in the limit of urban design – such as the redesign of the seafront (which is a project scheduled by the Municipality and as a matter of fact, we will give some ideas that will be adopted later on), to workshops about interventions in parks (City Hall & Aghios Charalampos parks) and schools (interventions in the facades and yards together with pupils, parents and teachers). Moreover, there will be a workshop which will proceed to measurements and suggest interventions in several parts of the city. Finally, there will be two more which will be occupied almost completely, with constructions using ecological materials and construction methods – stone, straw, clay and earth tubes.
The workshops will frame lectures by Greek and foreign specialists from Canada, Italy, UK. Israel and Turkey, along with discussions and movie screenings such as the movies “The Human Scale”, inspired by Jan Gehl’s work (Danish planner) and ““The Secret Life of Materials” concerning the nanotechnology applications in design.
The participating students and young professionals will have the chance to expand their knowledge, get experience by examples of sustainable design application, meet and networking with other colleagues, work in real sites and see, during the week or later on, their ideas being carried out. Additionally, from a wide range of approaches regarding the sustainable design, they will be able to select among design and construction workshops as well as to discover his/her field of interest or the part of sustainable design and ecologic building that interest him/her the most.
- What is the objective of Ecoweek, in Greece and abroad?
Principal objective of Ecoweek is to inform and alert concerning environmental issues as well as to promote the principles of sustainability. During the sustainable design workshops, we draw the participants’ attention to a wider range of topics that have to do with sustainability, so as to receive stimuli, not only as architects but as inhabitants (and future successors) of the planet as well.
- In which way the Ecoweek organizations are connected worldwide?
All Ecoweek organizations recommend a different approach of sustainable design learning, compared to the ones provided in Greek and foreign universities. As a matter of fact, given that many universities have not adopted sustainable design as main topic yet, many students who are informed, well awared and eager to learn more, attend the Ecoweek workshops. Not only for enhancing their knowledge but also for meeting, cooperating and networking with other colleagues on sustainable design-related issues.
- Which are the reasons for selecting Aghios Nikolaos Crete for the organization of Ecoweek and not a more “popular” urban center?
Aghios Nikolaos is one of the most touristic destination where the Ecoweek weeks will be held this year. The other ones are Eilat-Israel and Thessaloniki-Greece during the Hotelia show, where the scheduled workshops will be focused on tourism and hospitality. Tourism and hospitality, even though they lead the visitor away from reality, providing a sense of abundance, relaxation and wellbeing, contribute to the environmental effects of the planet. From the right moment the visitor gets into the airplane until the moment he swims in the swimming pool: in order for the services high standards services that tourism offers to be maintained, energy and natural resources are required, and quite often with all these modern facilities and their operation, there is a degradation of the natural environment. Tourism has direct interest in preserving the ideal environmental conditions, especially in Crete, where the temperature increase of the planet threatens to lead tourism in the north. With the cooperation and participation of tourism-related bodies of the island and local society, we hope that through the Ecoweek organization, we will contribute to the attempt to make Aghios Nikolaos a sustainable touristic destination.