adopting a sustainable approach
Since our founding in 1987, sustainability has always been at the forefront of our work. Our approach to sustainability revolves around our focus and emphasis on local context – ecology, location, history, geography, etc. as the basis for design. Our plans enhance the foundation for sustainability through the various key values that bind a design to its location, cultural context and implicitly, the end-user. As a result, our designs are site-specific and guarantee a long-lasting value. With every project, West 8 aims to develop a design which will be embraced and cared for with pride by its users. Hence, sustainability through cultural constructs is strongly embedded in our design philosophy. At the core of this approach, we address the question of true “relevance”, that will ultimately determine the project’s contribution to sustainable goals.
West 8 does not shy away from exploring design limits. Reuse and recycling, adding ecological value, energy conservation and if possible generation, where feasible and appropriate are regularly incorporated in our designs. We believe that integrated design and a holistic approach to projects provide added value to both the client and users.
Sustainable projects by West 8 are always two things: holistic and custom. To be truly sustainable, we believe it is fundamental that our designs always consider the unique site context.
On Governors Island, an 87-acre lively island oasis in the New York City Harbor, West 8 lifted the island out of the 100-year flood zone using recycled materials from demolished buildings and subway lines to create The Hills – a whimsical new landscape that acts as a protective barrier for the island and elevates tree roots
above the high watermark to ensure generations of safety for the island’s visitors and plants. As a result, the beloved island was found relatively unscathed post-Sandy. Today, Governors Island is a stunning waterfront open space, a valuable asset to New York City and all those to visit and a spectacular example of the importance of resiliency.
Likewise, our timber WaveDecks along the Toronto Central Waterfront in Toronto, Canada offer new waterside gathering spaces in areas which were once narrow sidewalks without public lake access. Beneath each WaveDeck lies a new aquatic habitat. River stone shoals, tree logs, and embankments were installed to provide shelter and increased feeding and foraging opportunities for lake fish. This important sustainable feature is subtly highlighted at night by a sublime underwater lighting display of 24 LED lights.
At Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (West 8 has been their supervising landscape architect since 1994), we had to take into consideration the glycol antifreeze runoff, sprayed onto aircraft in winter. Our design collects the runoff in basins, it is then heated by the cooling water of the nearby data center, thus creating ideal growing conditions for algae. These algae baths provide a regular supply of biomass which fuels a nearby energy center.