Ecology : where we live and how we live

ANMA’s approach to urban ecology and to ecological design is based in the very meaning of the word Ecology. “Eco” comes from the Greek “oikos” meaning house, or living space. This term helps us to understand how the spaces that we design – where we live – are also closely linked to how we live. ANMA is a leader in this field in Europe designing the largest solar roof in Paris, as part of the largest public building in France, the Ministry of Defense (construction planned for 2012), and has designed sustainable buildings over the past 10 years.

Our architecture – where we live, and work, and play – is closely linked to our urban plans and designs, both of which aim to influence how we live.

Cities, as ecosystems, and our houses, dwellings and workplaces as the main nodes of these ecosystems are at the core of the way that we think about the city. Our urban plans encourage pedestrian and public transport access, shared green space, dense and mixed use living. Designing Compact densities, even on suburban sites, is the norm for our designs.

Our architecture implements sustainable solutions in all of our architectural design and urban planning projects. We also aim to influence the way space is used, through the creation of winter gardens on many of our projects such as the our social housing project in Nancy, we have created rooms which need neither cooling or heating at any period of the year. These “interclimatic” zones encourage a reduction in the use of mechanical heating and cooling but also a new way of using of internal space.

We do this in a number of ways:

1. Integrated Designs for natural ventilation

A key design feature in many of our structures is the “solar chimney”. Using black photovoltaic panels or dark thermal treatments air is heated at the top of the structure forcing air to rise, wind currents channel hot air away and cools the building in the summer. Solar panels harvest energy to contribute to the heating of the structure.

2. Living Spaces for Resource Economy

Experimental spaces, including small apartment scale winter gardens or larger shared “interclimatic” zones ensure energy is economized by the apartments but also encourages the use of these new spaces for socializing within blocks. Vegetation within these spaces cools during the summer and photovoltaic gauze provides extra surface area for energy harvesting but also acts as sun protection. In our landscape and architecture projects rain water management is systematically used and green surfaces are used to protect from storms and to encourage bio-diversity.

3. Made to Measure thermal design solutions

We also design made to measure structures which are adapted to a particular site and the energy needs of a particular structure. For example the Zero energy student residences in Paris uses an on-site energy storage structure which also serves to protect the building from the nearby road noise of Paris’s peripherique. The Rouen Water Board offices use an internal river to cool the structure and an automatic system which cools the building through its glass roof at night. Finally, ground energy is systematically used through the use of Canadian chimneys to use the cool of the ground in the summer to cool buildings as well as its warmth to warm spaces in the winter.

ANMA is widely solicited for our approaches to green building and continues to develop new research in the area. Going beyond certifications such as LEED or HQE, we believe that green building comes out of an overall vision and understanding of the built environment and its relationship to nature.