Sustainability shouldn’t be seen as a design strategy, but the content of a building

Author, academic and sustainability expert Lance Hosey has had a long career fighting industrial oligarchs for the protection of the natural environment but, as a newarticle he penned for website ArchDaily suggests, the problem may be with architecture itself.

A third of architects, his opinion piece points out, remain skeptical about the actual validity of climate change, with more than 13% of architects interviewed in a 2009 poll saying they thought that climate change was a “myth”.

“When many of architecture’s leaders fail to take today’s most urgent challenges more seriously, how can we expect the profession’s rank and file to do so?” Hosey asks, adding “If some architects don’t believe sustainability is essential, then what do they believe?”

What he finds is that the notion of the ‘architect as artist’ is one of the most enduring problems with the industry, justifying, he says, the most “damaging” and “wasteful” extravagances. But why is it, he asks, that the profession considers the science of building divorced from the “art” of architecture? Does sustainability change the face of design, he asks, or only its content? Conventional wisdom, he says, is clear: “Sustainability has, or should have, no relationship to style,” but the truth of the situation is often vastly different. It’s a new way of thinking about architecture – from whence to start?

His message is clear: holistic design practices are pivotal to the future of the built environment. “Following the principles of sustainability to their logical conclusion inevitably changes everything about architecture, including its purpose, process, and products. Design isn’t separate from sustainability—it’s the key to it.”

Read Hosey’s full piece here.