Architecture & Sustainability

Architecture & Sustainability

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Higher Education & Research
1971
Centre for Development Studies at Trivandrum; Lawrence Wilfred Laurie Baker

Humans have transformed ecosystems across most of the terrestrial biosphere causing major global changes in biodiversity, biogeochemistry, geomorphic process and climate. Environmental change is an inevitable consequence of human history and archaeological evidence present a story of increasing human impact on the environment over time. In-fact a visibly changed environment is often thought of as a principle hallmark of culture.

The importance of energy efficient buildings has assumed a great urgency today in consideration of fast depleting energy resources, energy scarcity and increasing environmental pollution and innovative ways to cut down energy consumption are necessary. For a very long time, we have looked at architecture as a building filling a void. There was a great focus on the physical space, without much vision as to how people would interact with the space.

Architecture and sustainability is not about mere tech readiness or even new materials. It is not an individual corporation, company or builder’s sole objective. It is about many small sub heads that make up a larger whole and these sub heads go beyond the lingua franca of architecture terminology and extend into the realm of social and economic sphere. Similarly, sustainable architecture is not a homogeneous universally applicable set of rules, practices or technologies. It needs to be defined in the context of an understanding of history, culture, climate and social mores. Sustainable development perceives architecture from a modernistic angle. For a truly sustainable development, haphazard, unplanned and illegal construction prevention should be the first priority. Rapid technological and scientific developments have led to a total rejection of age-old ways, substituting in their place a rootless expression of mere industrial functionalism. This has given us an art and architecture that is more or less uniform throughout the world. Non-affective and materialist expression over the last few decades has awakened many people who feel uprooted; they are trying to understand the cause and reason for abandoning the ideas of the past. The challenge here is as much about reconciling traditional ancient practices with modern technology as it is with implementing the rules which we roll out of as ‘Then’ and ‘Now’.

Sustainable architecture should be the use of locally available, recycled and natural construction materials (ie: Earth constructions, Adobe, Compressed Earth Blocks, Stone, Bamboo, Wood, Brick, Concrete blocks…). Over the last few years, the government and its agencies have been working hard to raise awareness about green buildings. The thrust has been on highlighting that green buildings create a more sustainable environment through efficient use of energy and conservation of resources and all stakeholders – from consumers to developers should take up responsibility in this mission. Implementation of green buildings can be promoted by standardising norms, offering better incentives, providing robust financial support systems and crating awareness among all stakeholders. Increased awareness will boost the green buildings sector and lead to a faster expansion of this important market segment.

After all, architecture is not merely about the ‘aesthetics,’ it is about functionality, about a ‘way of living’, about how the profession can affect us. It is about understanding, connecting, emphasizing and being considerate of the needs and attitudes of those who are going to inhabit those spaces.

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