San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Green’ architecture fair coming to San José

The 2012 Conference on Green Architecture and Sustainable Construction, running May 2-6 in San José, will feature architects and designers from around the world discussing sustainable solutions for the future of construction.

Costa Rica is a natural venue for the conference, said Ana Grettel Molina, executive director of Costa Rica’s Association of Engineers and Architects, the event’s organizers.

“Costa Rica is well-known globally precisely for this concept of sustainability, for the ‘green’ image the country has,” Molina said. “But construction must go hand-inhand with that green concept.”

In particular, said Molina, Costa Rica’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral conomy by 2021 indicates the country’s willingness to take a leadership role on issues of sustainability and green development. But the country can’t meet that goal without taking progressive steps

in multiple sectors, including housing and construction.

Costa Rica isn’t a stranger to sustainable architecture – there are examples of sustainable or green construction projects across the country – but awareness hasn’t yet coalesced into a widespread practice driven by consumer demand for sustainable buildings.

That’s where the Conference on Green Architecture and Sustainable Construction comes in.

“The conference is an event where we’re going to bring together academics and professionals,”

Molina said, adding that participation by the general public is key to developing a market for sustainable building practices.

A major part of the conference will be presentations from award-winning architects. Some of the presenters include Simón Vélez, a Colombian architect specializing in the use of bamboo. Vélez’s work resides at the intersection of sustainable design and social development, with a focus on natural materials and traditional indigenous designs.

Jorge Tamés y Batta, director of the architecture faculty at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM), will also lecture. Tamés y Batta has overseen more than 100 graduate theses at UNAM and served as judge for numerous architecture competitions.

Another conference attendee is James Wines, a U.S. architect, artist, writer and founder of SITE architecture firm. Wines has designed and built more than 150 architecture and environmental art projects across the globe. He has won 25 arts and design prizes and published a book, “Green Architecture,” in 2000.

Chilean-born architect Germán del Sol will be on hand as well. Del Sol, who is based in  Santiago, Chile, works on a variety of projects including housing design and promotion of the need to protect disappearing cultures in remote regions of the world.

Besides speakers and presentations, the conference will offer attendees a chance to get to

know local and international architecture and businesses that focus on eco-friendly products

and processes at the Sustainable Construction Fair, to be held at the Antigua Aduana building

in Barrio Aranjuez in San José.

Sustainable construction projects will also be on display.

All the better, Molina said, for attendees to get a feel for what is possible in the field of green design.

“There’s a lot of awareness already among professionals,” she said. “And little by little, I

believe that awareness will reach clients who will begin to demand [sustainable construction]

from professionals.”

An architect or designer can be “very aware of [green] methods,” but it’s up to the client to demand them, she said.

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