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architect@work: a holistic approach to sustainability in architecture


We believe that the most varied combination of materials and technological advances offer architecture tools to reduce its environmental impact. But the city that mankind has built over time also provides social and economic responses to its growth as essential agents in the sustainability balance.
But how does architecture incorporate all these components?

Diana Noronha Feio, a partner at Openbook Interior Design, was a guest speaker at architect@work in Lisbon, where she presented the theme “A holistic approach to sustainability in architecture”, addressing the necessary balance between the three variables that together define architectural sustainability.





When we think of a holistic vision of sustainability in architecture, we can imagine a triangle in which each vertice has its own meaning.

This concept of disseminating the idea of sustainable development, focusing on a long-term vision of sustainability in which economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection are inseparable and mutually reinforcing, first appeared in the Brundtland Report, more precisely in the document entitled “Our Common Future”, published in 1987 under the coordination of the Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtlan.



Social & Cultural Vertice

Socially sustainable architecture considers the social and cultural aspects of a community, with the aim of tackling social challenges and providing long-term benefits.



Economic Vertice

It is important to ensure that resources are optimised and correctly sized, so that projects bring returns and promote sustainable investment.



Environmental Vertice

Ecological architecture seeks to minimise the negative environmental impact of buildings through efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy and development space and the ecosystem in general.



How they work and interact with each other based on the purpose



Some examples from our work



Choupana Hills Resort & Spa

  • The hotel is located close to the airport and the city of Funchal, on an island with high tourism potential and in close contact with its natural surroundings.
  • In this process we sought to keep the memory of island culture and tradition alive by analysing architectural roots and local knowledge.
  • The complex has a discreet and camouflaged appearance in which the exterior finishing materials selected are traditional, along with the relatively small size of each building, creating the visual perception that one is looking at a group of traditional residential buildings rather than a large tourist complex.



VdA – Vieira de Almeida headquarters

  • Looking at two industrial buildings from the mid-19th century, abandoned for several decades and in a very poor state of conservation, and now seeing one of the largest law firms in the country set up there, was not an obvious solution for the future building.
  • Especially in a very run-down area of Lisbon, which was just taking its first steps towards revitalisation through catering, leisure and tourism activities.
  • The project aimed to preserve, unify and enhance the different architectural languages and through the recovery of the reference elements, maintain the memory and industrial character that marked an era, adapting it to the requirements of today’s user.



Nestlé Campus

  • A sense of community and interaction with nature was a priority from the very beginning.
  • From a holistic view of the impact of office spaces on employees’ lives, the entire architectural programme was designed to encourage maximum contact with nature, as well as areas that promoted employee well-being beyond work, such as breastfeeding rooms, dog parks and yoga rooms.
  • In pursuit of the building’s certification, rigorous procedures were put in place to ensure that the best sustainability practices were applied. From the choice of materials to bioclimatic architectural practices.
  • This project was awarded LEED GOLD V4 and WELL Plantina certification, the highest level of this certification.



Folha table

  • We also apply the values of sustainability to the furniture we design in the way we believe it should be taken into account.
  • We work with local producers to guarantee their economic sustainability and produce exclusive pieces – excluding mass production – that are made to stand the test of time.
  • This one is a unique piece produced using wood scraps, thus avoiding waste. The metal was also the result of smelting industrial waste, which has been given a new purpose.





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