German architect Werner Sobek grew up in Swabia, a region in southern Germany where sustainability meant survival.
“It was a poor area until car companies came in and made it rich. People had to import everything – steel, coal, metal,” Werner said. “You did not throw anything away.”
That is the mentality Sobek pitched in his presentation at the Goethe Institut Thursday as part of Architecture Week D.C. 2011. The week-long series of events, hosted by the American Institute of Architects, highlighted not only the tradition of architecture in D.C., but also creative, energy-efficient alternatives to futuristic architecture.
However, according to Sobek, who has designed structures for Mercedes Benz and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial, energy-efficiency is not his primary objective.
“You have to look at more than safe energy for one lifetime,” he said. “Sustainability – it just is a byproduct of good design.”
The rigorous recycling standards for German auto manufacturers known for good design inspired Sobek to challenge himself to do the same. The result was a 100-percent recyclable house in Stuttgart – his home since 2000.