Green architecture is not entirely new, but rather a reworked concept helped along by a good deal of 21st century wizardry, says French-born Nathalie Curtet.
‘‘European architects have traditionally been trained in green principles like how to site a building and establishing the right orientation for maximum energy conservation, but it had been lost over time through greed and loss of workmanship,’’ she says.
Curtet is one of the few Illawarra architects who is a green-star accredited professional of the Green Building Council of Australia.
While studying at the University of Marseille-Luminy in France, Curtet says she became fascinated by the relationship between built form and the land, choice of site and the layer of time.
Well before green became the buzzword, she says she began to develop a design philosophy focused on sustainability.
‘‘It’s about integrating design and looking at all aspects of how a building impacts on the environment and the community,’’ Curtet says.
‘‘It starts with the design and building process and then continues through the life of the building because running costs and maintenance can also become a great leech on energy resources.’’
Curtet believes that if a building creates an imbalance in the environment by either pollution or through environmentally unfriendly materials it can cause illness among those who work or live within.
‘‘Studies, for example, have found children perform better in schools where harmful chemicals have not been used in the paint,’’ Curtet says.
‘‘The rate of asthma attacks among sufferers is also far less.’’
Curtet has worked on houses and commercial spaces in the Illawarra but says one in Coledale designed five years ago ranks as one of her best.
‘‘It looks good and ticks the boxes when it comes to a softly, softly approach to energy consumption.’’
Curtet says green living is not just for those who can afford architectural design.
‘‘You can live in a rented flat and still do a lot to lessen your environmental footprint – there are many websites devoted to this sort of thing."