From Equator to Pole: Designing for Ecology, Equity and Economy

Estefanía Campos  | 28 de mayo de 2019  | Vistas: 35

What is sustainability? How do we think better about opportunities that improve people’s lives according to ecology, equity and economy? Rick Petersen shares his experience designing sustainable projects and his discovery of the triple bottom line in Africa and Antarctica.

Petersen gives an overview of the geographical characteristics of Konza in Kenia, Africa, and explains he was given the mission to create in 5000 acres, a new city that’s sustainable and a major economic driver for the nation, with world-class technology for businesses, workers and residents.

Then talks about Antarctica, a continent mostly covered in ice, bigger than the United States, mostly populated by people doing scientific research and shares how his firm got to work on those projects.

We were chosen on our capability; (...) we had done work sustainably in very environmentally sensitive areas around the country, but we were not hired for our experience in cold and remote areas”.

Later Rick describes the objectives and aspects of sustainability in each project and then goes into how did their responded to these needs and very different contexts. In Konza, in consideration to the wildlife movement he explains their building strategies. In Mcmurdo it was all about the response to climate, specifically the deposition of snow and strong winds.

We are really inspired by the kind of scenery and the physical aspects outside, so we combined these two elements, both physical movement of snow and wind, and the reflection of the environment, that is in the design solution”.

Rick describes the actions taken to achieve logistical efficiency, also equity, through cultural intersections and multi-purpose collaborative spaces to gather people for different activities. Also what they did to create resiliency and reliability to allow for aspirations and opportunity.

Finally Petersen talks about the economic part of the Konza and Mcmurdo’s projects and the use of local resources to build.


Master of Architecture and principal, OZ Architecture


Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín