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Not every sustainable design feature on a new building can be, or should be, visible. Sometimes the smartest architectural decisions about energy-efficiency are impossible to see from the sidewalk. But in other cases conspicuousness is precisely the point. In its design for Colorado Court, the first green affordable housing project in the country, the Santa Monica firm Pugh Scarpa argue that sustainable strategies and aesthetic strategies can be one and the same. The building, which holds 44 single-occupancy units and sits on a busy street in Santa Monica not far from the beach, is draped in a series of photovoltaic solar panels. As architect Lawrence Scarpa concedes, arranging the panels vertically on the facade of the building -- rather than flat on the roof or at a slight incline facing south, as they are usually positioned -- may not be the most efficient way of deploying them. But there was also a rhetorical, even polemical point to be made with the building. The architects -- and their client, the Community Corporation of Santa Monica -- felt strongly that the design should signal to passersby as well as to its residents that this collection of affordable apartments was also green.

Channel: Sci & Tech Channel

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