The Built Example as Design Tool for the Making of Sustainable Architecture
Conference contribution, 2004
This paper discusses on the one hand the challenge of sustainable architecture from an architect point of view as well as barriers to the process of making mainstream building more sustainable, and on the other hand the relevance of built examples as a design tool for sustainable architecture, i.e. sustainable development concerning building activities and the built environment. The paper put forward the architects as having a key role in the processes of making mainstream building more sustainable. However, the paper describes numerous barriers to implement sustainable architecture. One barrier is the controversy between aesthetical values and sustainable architecture. Aesthetical values have so far been overseen in the discourse on sustainable architecture, in national programmes and guidelines, and also in many built examples of sustainable architecture. Another barrier is the complex nature of architectural practice which often implies that either aesthetics or sustainability is in focus in the design process. From interviews with architects and studies of articles in the Swedish Architectural Review a third barrier was found as good quality architecture is often considered to be sustainable architecture without further effort thus neglecting pure environmental aspects in the long-run, social aspects, equity etc. in favour for durability, good quality building materials and aesthetics. Accordingly, there is a risk that sustainable architecture on the one hand is set outside the agenda of architectural practice as the discourse on sustainable architecture fail to address important aspects of good architecture. On the other hand there is a risk that that the concept of sustainable architecture is watered out as sustainable architecture often is understood as equal with strive for good quality architecture (literary business as usual). The built example is of major importance in the communication of architecture among architects. However, the tangible aspects of the example are usually over-emphasized and the non-tangible aspects hidden in system and in the practice, the realisation process are overseen. Furthermore, there is in general lack in feedback and learning among architects.