The Field of Architecture

In last 10 years the nature of sustainable design has become a core debate within the field of architecture. With numerous highly publicized 'green' projects being built in the last decade it is unsurprising that there has been a significant amount of coverage been given to the development of a new, environmentally friendly, architecture. However, the majority of literature and research on the topic is largely limited to the technical and scientific approaches (Owen and Dovey 2008) rather than the theoretical clarification. Furthermore, although some have suggested that architectural design is suffering as a result of sustainable design (Van der Ryn and Cowen 1996; Wines 2000b; etc) but few have went on to discuss the role and the impact aesthetics could have on sustainable design as an approach to architectural design.

Within the framework of sustainable design, we are seeing, not just a demand for buildings that perform ecologically, but also a demand for aesthetic pleasure to drive environmental design foreword. Aesthetics are viewed as a key component to architecture, therefore is vital that some distinction is made as to what is perceived as good architectural design. Susannah Hagan claims:

"Aesthetic pleasure is as necessary as ethical concern to a society that seeks the greatest good for the greatest number. An alliance of aesthetics and environmental ethics unleashes the possibility of architecture taking new directions, with typologies of sustainable form as yet unimagined" (REF).

In her book Taking Shape, Susannah Hagan (2001), a lecturer and researcher for the University of Brighton, explored the emerging relationships between the built and natural environment. Notably, the book sought challenge the existing framework for sustainable architecture, proposing that environmental architecture has to encompass within it aesthetics and intellect on top of its existing innovations in technology. As environmentally friendly architecture becomes demanding, with stricter regulations in place, the impact on the design could be harder to avoid. The author holds aesthetic appeal in high regard, arguing that aesthetic pleasure is as important as the ethical responsibility to design sustainably. As long as aesthetics and sustainability remain exclusive, there is no visible "instruments of persuasion" (Hagan 2001 p.97) to change to current perception of sustainable architecture. Unquestionably, aesthetics and architecture are inextricably linked is sustainable design is to develop into a dominant paradigm within contemporary architecture.

Such claims of aesthetics having a key role to play in the development of sustainable architecture have been made before, most emphatically by journalist Jonathon Glancey (2001), The Guardian's architecture and design correspondent. Glancey (2001) asks the age old question: "what is a 'green building'?" a question that has been deliberated over many years by many authors and architects. According to the writer, when many think of a 'green' building, they typically think of "an architectural pot-pourri of miniature windmills spouting from conservatory roofs hedged in by ineffable solar powered gadgets and ostentatious compost heaps"; yet others think about organic architecture made from wood or mud. There is a great deal of bewilderment to what sustainable architecture looks like, with the diversity of responses making it harder to clarify. Glancey (2001) demonstrates this by citing Swiss Re in London, believing that no one would think of contemporary, hi-tech architecture as being sustainable. They always return to the narrow minded views that sustainable architecture is architecture that outwardly expresses environmentalism throughout its design. Sustainable architecture is viewed to have a stereotypical aesthetic expression made up of green indicators-objects and materials that suggest 'green' subconsciously. This has led to the emergence of a green aesthetic, whereby any building that looks green will be seen as being green and the others, designed like any other contemporary building, will be criticised for not being sustainable.

The confusion surrounding sustainable design, what it should look like and how it should be practiced, has resulted in criticism of architects. James Wines (2000a) felt that "a major proportion of the architectural profession has remained oblivious to the magnitude of its irresponsible assaults on the land and resources", while contemporary practices are more likely "to confuse, rather than reinforce, a progressive image of earth friendly architecture" (p.11; cited in Guy and Moore 2007). Though true, yet shocking, this can only be described as the current state of sustainable architecture. Many sources of literature criticize overtly sustainable design, similarly, many allude to the core problem being the unwillingness of architects to address the environmental issues surrounding architecture (Owen and Dovey 2008; Hines 2007; Hawthorne 2001; McLennan 2004; etc). Wines'(2000b) book acts as a critique for much of the modern and contemporary design practices, claiming that many architects continue to design buildings "rooted in the style, spirit, and industrial technology" (p.9) identified by Le Corbusier. He highlighted the increasing importance of architecture and architects in the battle to save the planet. There is an assumption that architects are not fully tuned into the situation, where they continue to practice as normal without ever considering the impact their buildings are having on the environment. An ignorant attitude towards sustainable design, coupled with a negative opinion towards the practice, can be deemed as a barrier to the inclusion of sustainable design. However, is this perceived or a real problem facing the architectural profession?

[Van Der RYN, Mclennon]-current aurgument

Currently the arguments between competing theories of reconstruction are limited. Only the work of Lebbeus Woods (1993; 1998) and Esther Charlesworth (2007) has begun to compare and contrast theories on post-war reconstruction, but both result at differing opinions.

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