‘When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves'Orr (n.d.)
Environmental damage to our planet has increased. One of the issues that may lead to fatal destruction is the climate change caused by global warming. The issue of climate change will affect the urban heating process that will cause the increase of earth temperature. It will then becoming the root of melting of ice cube in North Pole and sinking of island zone, as the ocean zone is getting bigger and bigger. As the earth is facing a lot of destructions, there is a need for us to keep our planet safe as the mutual gratitude of what have we taken from earth.
Unconsciously, vegetations and greeneries may become one of the solutions of unravelling this urban heating issue. Substantially in urban area, there are a great amount of land that is supposedly the area of natural elements being taken to construct buildings and establishments. This is why preserving green is a crucial part in a city.
2. Preserving Green With Ireko Concept
2.1 Green Preservation
2.1.1 Photosynthesis Cycle
Green preservation is a way to have more vegetations and plants in an area that lacks of them. This is commonly seen in a city whereby there is only a minimum area of greeneries. As the application of Ireko in this topic is to pursue natural element as the interlocking zone, vegetation and greeneries are the chosen natural element to be focused on as the reaction of fighting urban heating process. This is according to the benefits of greenery from the photosynthesis process.
The photosynthesis process begins with the absorption of water and decompose dead organism from soil by the tree roots. These two ingredients will then be transferred to the leaves where the process takes place. Using the carbon dioxide and sunrise from the air, the water and decompose organism will be changed into food and oxygen. The food is transmitted to the whole parts of the tree where the oxygen will be released to the air.
At night, there is a respiration process as plants will absorb oxygen and release CO2, contradicting the photosynthesis process. As it is the cycle process, at night during the respiration process, oxygen is taken from the air and carbon dioxide will be released to the atmosphere. Therefore there is the need to not getting close with the plants at night.
2.1.2 Advantages of Preserving green
From the photosynthesis cycle, it is mentioned that plants will absorb carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen at daytime. This will prevent any more increase of heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide absorption will help to release the heat from atmosphere. The infrared of sunray that trapped inside our atmosphere is due to the amount of carbon dioxide that covers the air. It will shield the sunrays and keep them inside, not allowing them to release from the earth. Meanwhile, the oxygen that is released to open air will allow people to have clean and fresh air for the benefit of one's health.
The other advantage of having plants and greeneries is to reduce the use of air conditioning. Some of the carbon dioxide that released to the air is caused by the use of a lot of air conditioning system. It is another process of fossil fuel burning, and as the result is more carbon dioxide being loosen up to the atmosphere.
As the respiration process of the plant will be the opposite process, there is no issue that this will be harmful to the environment. There is no sunray at night, which means there is no heat that can be trapped by carbon dioxide released from the respiration process of plants.
2.2 Ireko Concept
2.2.1 The Rise of Ireko Concept
Ireko is a Japanese word with the literal meaning of nest. Ireko concept in traditional Japanese architecture is a term used of having interlocking spaces or more often recognized as shell space concept. The concept was firstly introduced at Meiji period between the years of 1868 - 1912.
Sander (1963, pp.24) states that ‘the Japanese love of nature made them disinclined to shut themselves up in a kind of big storehouse even though the winds might blow'
This is the main cause of Ireko concept arrival. Japanese people are very concerned about living close to nature. Japanese architecture is always planned in such a way that it gives the impression of being planned form inside outwards, that one must not look at it from the outside. Everything is already inside as a whole component.
The basic idea of this concept is to have another space inside the main area, which is the intermediate zone, or known as interlocking space. The interlocking space allows people to have spatial flow in their spaces. They will experience the flow of outdoor area to semi indoor or semi outdoor and at last to interior space. The semi indoor or semi outdoor space is the intermediate sector of the main building. Verandas and balconies are classified into semi indoor and outdoor. They are the connector between interior and exterior zones. They are creating heterogeneous environment that can be used in flexible ways.
Nowadays, there is an alteration in applying this concept, adjusting people's necessities whereby not only semi indoor can be the interlocking area, but outdoors and interior itself may become the interlocking spaces. In this particular writing, outdoor area that provides natural element, in this case is vegetation and plants, as the interlocking space or intermediate zone is the main focus point.
2.2.2 Application of Ireko in Architecture
18.104.22.168 Traditional Architecture (Semi Indoor as Interlocking zone)
Noh Theatre is a major classical Japanese drama theatre firstly performed in the 14th century during Meiji period. It is the classical drama of historical plays by wearing a mask that the actor can act as both men and women. The stage is the intermediate area, which is a veranda that becomes the connector from outdoor space to the theatre itself. The theatre is located at the backside for the actors' preparation purpose. Outdoor space is used for the seating's placement where people will enjoy the play in an open space.
22.214.171.124 Contemporary architecture
- Indoor As Intermediate Zone
The above picture is the newly built Noh Theatre at Nagoya, Japan. The stage is not located at semi indoor area, but instead becoming an interior space, part of the theatre itself. As the structure of the stage with all the roofing and columns are brought inside, people will experience being in another space whereby actually it is still inside the theatre.
In this particular house by Ong & Ong, the pool area acts as the outdoor intermediate space, whereby it is the connector of other living areas such as kitchen, lounge, and even the bathroom. It is a complete a different experience from having another interior as the interlocking zone. For this one, people will get closer to nature wherever they are, as the pool is in the centre, all other spaces will encompass the pool.
From the two case studies, there are developments in nowadays application of Ireko concept. Not only semi-indoor may become the intermediate area, but indoor and outdoor also.
2.3 Applying Ireko with Outdoor Intermediate Zone in Singapore
2.3.1 Green Areas in Singapore
In Singapore, the awareness of preserving nature has risen in the past few years. According to the data taken by National Park Boards Singapore, 13.6 percent of the total land area in Singapore (9000 ha) is nature resources area. Of this, around 3326 ha is nature reserve, such as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchement Nature Reserve, MacRitchie Reservoir or Thomson Reservoir. Other areas that are part of 9500 ha include parks, park connectors, playgrounds, and roadside gardens.
The records by National Park Boards Singapore shows that green areas in Singapore are basically located at nature reserves, parks, and gardens in suburb area. Nature has not been used to its maximum limit that people will be directly connected to it in their daily activities, and not by any chance need to take a journey getting to a park or reservoir.
As written by Chew (n.d.) ‘Singapore in general still tend to think that nature is a luxury, a benefit that people could or should only indulge in if a country has reached material affluence.' People in Singapore still look at nature as something they can be achieved only after accomplishing other needs and not as part of their daily living environment.
2.3.2 Buildings and Establishments as The Tool to Preserve Green
Nevertheless, by applying Ireko concept with outdoor as intermediate space in Singapore may get people closer to nature, experiencing nature as part of their daily life is a possible living scheme. With Ireko concept, apart from having parks, gardens, and reservoirs for preserving green, buildings and establishments may also contribute themselves.
Ireko will affect the design of a building to have its own outdoor space inside, as the intermediate zone. Greenery such as plants and other vegetation are then be brought to this outdoor space whereby there will be sufficient sunlight to keep them alive. By doing so, nature becomes part of people's daily life and not something luxurious and hard to get. People will be living closer to nature every single day. Imagine in the heart of Singapore such as the business centre in Raffless Place or leisure area at Orchard where all the buildings have their own vegetation and greeneries inside. Moreover, it is also a way to global warming solution. Although Singapore is just a small nation, but this tiny little contribution hopefully will help reducing the global heat.
2.4 The Advantages of Ireko Concept with Outdoor as Intermediate Space
2.4.1 Effect to The Environment and People
The effects given by using Ireko concept are divided into environmental effect and effect to the people. For the environment, there are the advantages to energy saving (air conditioning minimalisation), as by having more outdoor spaces inside there is the reduce in the needs of air condition. Moreover, there is the extension of environmental life of the buildings with the use of plants and vegetation. This will help to extend the durability of the building.
Nevertheless, there are also effects for the people in the environment. The first one is the health approach, whereby clean and fresh air produced by plants will be good for people's health. The other effect is the mental approach of people. Having green preservation will be a good way to achieve sanctuary and meditative spaces that is lacking in the city. People may find calmness and for a moment get rid of their hectic life in this area of green.
2.4.1 Fighting Global Warming
The most crucial benefit from having vegetation as intermediate zone in a building is that it is one of the ways to reduce urban heat that it would be the way to solve the problem of global warming that our planet is facing. This will hopefully avoid any more destruction to our planet and therefore lengthen the age of our earth.
2.5 Applying Ireko Concept in The Studio Project
2.5.1 Day-spa Project
The studio project aim is to design a utopia environment which then focussing on designing a day-spa. The day-spa is located in Dhobby Ghaut area, next to University of Chicago Booth, Singapore Shopping Centre, and Istana Park. It is also close to Dhobby Ghaut MRT station. From the survey of supply and demand of day-spa in Singapore, people in the city will definitely seek for relaxation to escape their hectic life while going to a spa. A day-spa is preferred where it is located in the city centre that can be reached easily. The survey also indicates that most of the spa goers would likely prefer to get treatments in the nature or close to nature, whereby in Singapore most of the day-spas are located inside shopping malls or stand alone buildings, where nature is miles away from them.
The concept of this day-spa is Chakra, which is the relaxation and energy point in a body that will bring balance to a person's general health. Chakra has seven points with one as a centre in our brain, connecting all the other six chakras. Ireko concept is being applied into the design based of Chakra concept and also from the survey of Singapore day-spa demand. Ireko comes in the form of outdoor spaces as intermediate / interlocking zone.
Indoors garden is being placed as the intermediate (outdoor) zone to the reaction of the spa goers need and as part of contribution to undertake the urban heating issue. There are three indoor gardens inside as intermediate zones, one in each level that will overlook the other garden below, as can be seen from the floor plans.
The flow of the spaces inside the day-spa will be from indoor to intermediate zone (indoor garden) and back to indoor again in each level. Each garden in each level acts as the outdoor interlocking space. This will affect every space in all levels to have chance of closely experiencing nature.
2.5.2 The Use of Indoor Garden as Intermediate space
126.96.36.199 Based on the Supply and Demand
As from the survey that customers will mostly prefer to have treatments in nature, Indoors garden are being used inside the day-spa. All of the treatments will be overlooking the garden itself.
188.8.131.52 Based on The Chakra Concept
The indoor garden at level one has become the centre of all spaces in the building. The design of this particular indoor garden as triple volume space is as a connector to all other spaces inside. This is based on the concept of Chakra to have one centre that will connect all of the others as a whole.
The other aspect from the indoor garden is that all of the treatments will be overlooking the gardens, that it will also bring balance for customer in physical and also mental approach. They can stabilise their daily hectic life in a city with a massage in nature. Bringing balance to a body is a main advantage of our seven chakras.
184.108.40.206 Reaction to The Urban Heating Process
As to take action in reducing urban heating process, positioning vegetations inside the day-spa as the intermediate space is being applied in the day-spa. From the total area of 664-meter square, 122-meter square is used as the intermediate spaces, which are the indoor gardens. Hopefully this design of the day-spa will not only bring satisfaction to the customers, but could also defeat the global warming effect.
‘There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.' Gandhi (1869-1948)
When we take too much from earth, we have to bare the consequences of the result. Urban heating process as one of the reaction of global warming is what the earth is facing nowadays, and we as the people in charge behind this issue need to take an immediate action. Without realising the natural effect of having greeneries and vegetation around, actually it might be one way to solve urban heating process.
Particularly in the city area, there is not sufficient green area around. A large portion of the land is being used as establishment properties. This is why preserving green is very much needed. The issue of green preservation in an urban area is mostly about the lack of spaces to be used as green area, whereby usually we can only find vegetation and greeneries at the parks, gardens, or reservoirs. There is still a great zone of buildings and establishments in town, it would be great if we can capitalise on this section to have greeneries and vegetation also.
By using Ireko concept with outdoor as interlocking or intermediate zone, green preservation in buildings and establishments may be achieved. The outcome given to the atmosphere could be bizarre, when all buildings have their own green areas inside. There is still possibility and chances for us to help our own world, It is the time for us now to pay attention for the earth, not to keep taking more and more and at the end leaving it dying.
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