Narrator/Interviewer: Last year a new building project located outside Amsterdam started. It’s called the 20/20 Park Project. The idea is to have buildings that have a positive, beneficial impact on the environment. We asked the architect, Mr Zicari, to discuss the 20/20 Park Project with us.
Interviewer: Good morning, Mr Zicari. And welcome to the programme.
Mr Zicari: Good morning. And thank you for inviting me
Interviewer: First of all, tell us something about yourself. You are considered the father of a new concept in architecture: Building for a better world. When did you first think about this?
Mr Zicari: Well, I first thought about this while I was a graduate student at Yale University in the U.S., and I designed and built the first solar house in Ireland. I got help from NASA at the time. I was very interested in green architecture and so, I think that my ideas evolved from that.
Interviewer: So what exactly IS green architecture?
Mr Zicari: Green architecture is a philosophy to building which has become more popular in the last 25 to 30 years. It is also known as sustainable design. Green architecture is a way to minimize the impact of building on the environment.
Interviewer: So how is your idea of architecture different from green architecture?
Mr Zicari: I do not only think we have to take care of the environment. I think we have to improve it.
Interviewer: Are you talking about the materials we build with? Or the way we build?
Mr Zicari: I’m talking about changing our ideas about building. We know that we don’t inhabit an infinite planet. The concept of throwing things “away” has, in effect, itself gone away. Nothing disappears forever. When I began my architecture career in the late 1970s, I was already thinking about the permanence of things.
Interviewer: Why is the 20/20 Park Project important to you?
Mr Zicari: The 20|20 Park Project became the opportunity to bring all my ideas together.
Interviewer: Could you tell us something more about this project?
Mr Zicari: When I started the project, I realized we were designing buildings that were dangerous for the soil, the air and the water. Why would anybody do that on purpose?
Interviewer: But that’s what we have been doing for years, isn’t it?
Mr Zicari: Exactly, we have used materials that damage our environment. But, instead, we should be asking a different question: How much can we give for all that we get? And that’s what I did. Not simply protect, but rather improve the environment.
Interviewer: This project started during the economic crisis. So what about money? Could people buy such houses?
Mr Zicari: The financial crisis has been going on since the start of the project, but the 20/20 Park Project has been very successful. We didn’t think it would be so successful. In fact, we’ve done about 40 percent better than we anticipated. And I believe this is because we’ve done things thinking about what the world should be like.
Interviewer: Do others agree with you?
Mr Zicari: Most people agree that the project is quite successful. We are proud of the buildings that are complete, and of how comfortable the people living there find them.
Interviewer: So you believe that people prefer green architecture.
Mr Zicari: Well, yes. The concept of green architecture is great, but it’s more than green roofs and permeable pavements. It is not just a question of managing water.
Interviewer: Could you give us some examples?
Mr Zicari: Green roofs can also be used as parks, farms and natural habitats for wildlife. Green infrastructure can lower air temperature. All these things are really important for making our buildings more sustainable.
Interviewer: So, is the 20/20 Park Project green architecture?
Mr Zicari: Yes and no. It is more than green architecture. The 20/20 Park Project is green architecture but it is also a project where people are more important than business. The things that we value are quality and beauty. The questions are “How can we make it more beautiful? How can we make it healthier? How can we make it more effective through the use of clean energy?” It’s always about better, better, better.
Interviewer: And can ordinary people pay for it?
Mr Zicari: It is expensive but people pay for it. Numbers are important, but what makes people happy? That matters, too. That’s what we try to do —and maybe change the world a bit, too.
Interviewer: We’ve run out of time. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us.
Mr Zicari: My pleasure.