Design for sustainable building
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2004

Building is an important enterprise concerning sustainable development. In order to contribute to the transformation, designers have to learn from existing building, not least successful demonstration projects. However, although findings on how to deal with for example the environmental effects have been available for a long time, the rate of implementation is alarmingly low. This paper is part of a research project that approaches the issues of sustainable architecture through contemporary design theory. The aim is to reach both a theoretical development and improved methodologies for implement ting sustainable strategies in integrated building design. The paper is a result of the initial phase in the project. It has been carried out through literature studies in design theory, discourse theory and “ecological” design. The investigation points out that information about sustainable building is not suitable for designers; mainly the place and project bound context and models from which you can learn from built examples. A framework has been developed, based on design theory and a systems’ approach. The basic features in the framework are the differences between ideological, open or compact concepts, and how they influence information about sustainable building. Furthermore, design processes are seen as related to complexity system levels instead of temporal phases. The framework has been used to analyse existing handbooks and guidebooks about “ecological” architecture, regarding their ability to function as guidelines and tools in the different complexity levels of design processes. The results are tentative, and will be investigated further in the research project. They point out five possible explanations to why findings and experience about sustainable building are not used to their full extent among architectural designers. 1) Representations of sustainable development are ideological and open, but not clear enough concerning the cultural-esthetical dimensions and the long-term perspective, which both are of importance for architecture and building. 2) Information is not adapted to the difference in systems’ complexities in different design phases. Especially in the early phases, when the building is handled on a level of high complexity there is a lack of useful, “open” conceptual models. 3) Experience from the use and maintenance phases do not seem to be enough present in current pre-design and design phases. 4) The information about environmental design provides mainly “solutions” with a generic scope – space - independent of local prerequisites - place. There is a lack of models that focus on the more or less unique prerequisites in specific localities. Consequently, there is also a lack of models that combine the “space” and ”place” approaches 5) Sustainable building calls for dialogues, within the design team and with participators and builders. Information is mostly focused on technical elements and less of moments of handling information in integrated design processes.

Architectural Design



Integrated Design

Sustainable Building


Michael Eden

Chalmers, Sektionen för arkitektur

In proceedings of the conference “L’architectura de la Indiferència”. School of Architecture, Barcelona, June 30 – July 3, 2004