Expert Voices

Five Reasons Why You Love Sustainable Architecture

View of wedge courtyard at ECO Modern Flats
View of wedge courtyard at ECO Modern Flats with additive stairs, balconies and ground terraces. The rainwater harvesting cistern (silver cylinder) irrigates the community garden at the eastern entry to the site. The original buildings provided tremendous opportunity for reuse — the structures themselves, as well as plumbing fixtures and the pool were refurbished rather than destroyed, saving countless resources. (Image credit: Timothy Hursley)

Chris Baribeau is principal architect and co-founder of Fayetteville, Ark.-based architecture firm Modus Studio. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The images in this article depict ECO Modern Flats, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Multifamily Platinum project located in Fayetteville, Ark. — the first in the state to achieve that designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. The project was designed by Modus Studio.

The experience of architecture can be inspiring to all people in a daily, practical and sustainable way. Everyone deserves good space derived from good ideas — and this is the mode in which our firm, Modus Studio, operates.

I draw daily inspiration and experience from the Ozarks, inhabiting the threshold between the natural and man-made world of the region where I live and work.

View of new serpentine retaining wall and cable trellis system at ECO Modern Flats. Serpentine retaining walls addressed erosion on the sloping site and carve out patio areas for ground level units. A green screen of flowering vines shades the south faces of the buildings, providing another layer of comfort in the summer sun.v (Image credit: Timothy Hursley)

My colleagues and I founded the studio with the belief that awareness and observation of the world is a constant source for design and an unwritten instruction manual for living. We try to bridge the design profession with architecture, graphic, prototyping and fabrication work.

Over the last several years, we've worked on a wide range of well-received sustainable architectural projects in the region and nation, driven by sustainable design.

Now, let me share why I believe you should love modern and sustainable architecture.

Humans love nature

Mankind spends much of its existence overcoming the natural elements. We seek to strike a balance between modern comforts and our connection to nature. Sustainable and modern architecture, when done well, provides a kind of balance between the natural and the artificial environment by blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor in sensual material palettes while offering the expansion of smaller and more efficient spaces. People can harvest and control the natural elements as resources to enhance their lives.

It's cool (or warm, or perfectly comfortable)

Healthy living is underlined by superior indoor air quality, control over thermal comfort, and a high level of energy and resource conservation and efficiency. When you can have all three of these things in a beautiful and functional space to live, why wouldn't you?

Views of the public roof deck at the apartment complex. The public roof deck provides the entire tenant community with an elevated space affording interior site views to the "eco courtyard" as well as views of the University of Arkansas, downtown Fayetteville and mountains beyond. (Image credit: Timothy Hursley)


At the heart of sustainability in our modern built environments is the connectivity of community. Making real changes in our world through smart design and construction requires people to recognize the power of community. We must reinforce the connections between people through good design to make safer, better maintained and long-lasting spaces. Sustainability is inherently found in providing a built environment that is embraced by those who use it.

Low-VOC paints and finishes and a concrete floor partner with the updated building envelope to improve and protect indoor air quality in each apartment's kitchen. (Image credit: Adaptive Creative)

You might get lucky

Clean lines, open spaces, warm materials, natural environments and modern forms are all independently sexy ... now put them all together.

It's now

In this age of high technology and mass communication, so much information is available to our society. Our continuing evolution demands that we progressively seek new ideas, thoughts, patterns, relationships and forms. Each of us only live once, and being part of something modern, sustainable and obtainable is ideal. Somewhere between our high-end gadgets and the possibilities of low-tech simple design solutions is a happy space waiting for each of us.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This article was originally published on .

Modus Studio