Over the past year and a half, a striking building has been taking shape on the campus of National Cheng Kung University in the southern city of Tainan.
This pathbreaking structure, the Y.S. Sun Green Building Research Center, named in honor of the former ROC premier who died in 2006, is also known as the Magic School of Green Technology (MSGT). Its exterior has several nautical touches, including a ship’s prow, and railings like those on a cruise liner. However, its uniqueness goes beyond outward appearance.
One of the functions of the MSGT, which was inaugurated January 12, is to help people understand why sustainable architecture is important, and how certain design and construction methods can lessen a building’s impact on the environment.
With four stories and 4,799 square meters of floor space, the school is expected to consume just 43 kilowatt hours of electricity per square meter of floor per year—65 percent less than similar office buildings in the ROC.
The design is so remarkable that the building and its principal designer, NCKU architecture professor Lin Hsien-te, were featured in a Discovery Channel documentary while it was still under construction.
“Natural ventilation is the key issue for this building,” architect Joe Shih explained when asked how such large energy savings are possible. Throughout the project, Shih has endeavored to reconcile Lin’s sustainability targets with the properties of conventional building materials, budgetary limits, NCKU’s requirements, local building codes and his own “ways of dealing with light and space.”
“Extensive computer modeling and experimentation were conducted to find the best natural ways to increase indoor ventilation,” Shih said.The school’s three solar chimneys are a result of these efforts...
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