“Work with nature.” The words are simple to say, but the practice is difficult, reflecting the almost infinite complexity of the relationships, systems, and interactions found in the natural world. The tendency has been to think of our ecosystems as fragile and prone to disarray given the slightest imbalance or degree of human influence, but as presented in Constructed Ecosystems, we may actually possess the tools needed to not only lessen our negative impacts on the environment, but achieve harmony with it.
The book presents a series of real-world projects and thought exercises by Ken Yeang, an architect with over four decades of experience incorporating ecological principles into developments of varying scale and type. Each chapter focuses on different “ecoarchitectural” design elements, like the skycourts of UMNO Tower (Malaysia), the diagonal light shafts of Solaris (Singapore), or the vertical landscaping of IBM Plaza (Malaysia). Case studies move from a clear explanation of the design element, to a breakdown of its bioclimatic functions in a particular project, to computer simulations of the system, and finally to key performance indicators (where applicable).
The inclusion of post-occupancy performance studies is perhaps the most valuable contribution of the book, as the widespread implementation of green subsystems will continue to require extensive documentation. Performance indicators would have been appreciated for all the completed projects in the book, but readers will still find value in the extensive simulations documented throughout.
Reviewed by Jason Gabel, CTBUH