KENT-repreneur Episode 4: Living Architecture

Sourced from Kent Wired

The fourth episode of KENT-repreneur focuses on innovation in science. Kent State students are getting real-world experience studying living architecture, and a KSU professor, Dr. Reid Coffman, is leading the way in national research.

Before becoming a professor in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED), Coffman worked as a landscape architect and designer of habitats for threatened and endangered species, which sparked his interest in living architecture.

“I loved that stuff so much, but I liked living in the city,” Coffman said. “So I found vegetative roof systems to be a place where wildlife habitat was existing in a very unique way.”

Living architecture is more than just vegetative roof systems, also known as green roofs. Coffman said the concept is broadly defined.

“In a general sense in the way we’re using it ... it is used to describe any biological or ecological function that a building or its surfaces or processes take on to become more environmentally responsible, and to serve a larger purpose for environmental awareness,” he said.

Coffman said living architecture can be speculative, meaning the design is exploratory, or applied, where the design is physically put into place.

“Some of the very basic examples of living architecture would be a vegetative roof system that is applied to a building roof,” he said. “It may have some ecological services, such as the interception of light to keep the building cool, which would reduce its energy expenditures. It could capture rainfall, so it would reduce stormwater runoff.”

Coffman said green roofs can have more advanced environmental effects as well. “They can, in part, recover some of the lost habitat for wildlife,” he said.

Kent State has two buildings with green roofs: the Center for Architecture and Environmental Design and Taylor Hall.

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