Alejandro Zaera-Polo delivered a provoking lecture on the meaning of sustainable design and globalization at Shimizu Hall in Tokyo on June 5, 2015.
He was joined by Professor Yasushi Ikeda of Keio University and Professor Yusuke Obuchi of the University of Tokyo, as well as Naruki Ohashi of Shimizu corporation. Currently a professor at Princeton University in the Unites States Zaero-Polo is the architect of the revolutionary Yokohama Ferry terminal, which was begun some 15 years ago (http://www.archdaily.com/554132/ad-classics-yokohama-international-passenger-terminal-foreign-office-architects-foa/).
The hour long lecture was especially fascinating because it focused on issues that would normally be called sustainable design, without actually using the term. Zaera-Polo explained that he is not against the term by any means, but that it is perhaps time to think further, to address much more subtle issues than energy use and the hyper-rationalised solution to an over-production of carbon.
In the 15 years since winning the competition his office has gone on to do a number of significant projects, and more recently he is advocating for a theory of design that he calls a new cosmology. In essence this refers to the idea that architecture can become more useful if it is treated as a thoughtful modification of the 4 elements (earth, fire, water, air). You can see what this means in reality on his website here (http://azpml.com/)
photo caption: Alejandro Zaera-Polo (Princeton University), speaking with Yasushi Ikeda (Keio University) and Yusuke Obuchi (University of Tokyo)