Thoughts on Sustainability
How would you define “sustainability”?
Sustainability in regards to architecture includes these basic elements; efficiency, cost-effectiveness, preservation, green energy, and optimization of comfort. But, there is so much more depth behind these elements which comes to define what sustainability can be. By nature, it is not a static thing, but rather it informed by its environment and actively adapts to its context. In this way, it becomes a source of balance between the restorative, productive, and destructive forces of the natural systems we are all a part of. Ultimately, sustainability is an intelligent, productive and adaptable system of endurance.
The Ideal sustainable design
If the human being is the ideal sustainable design, the answer really lies in how exactly we integrate that model into our environment to create structures that are regenerative and adaptable. First, we have to consider, the human in society is conditioned daily with the idea that life should be easy and comfortable to a certain degree. This desire is pursued at any cost resulting in a population dependent on a sterile and uniform environment, which by nature, further becomes reliant on the needs of such living standards. Therefore, in the ideal design, there is a need for humans to change how they view comfort and their approach to flexibility, and in doing so pave the way for adaptability and further balance.
However, what should be prime beyond these principles, is the material component of the ideal design. The design must first and foremost consider materials which are all-encompassing of the needs of the population as well as the environment. To this end, the ideal design evolves into being both contextual and indigenous (homegrown). For example, Iran is an environment with a long history of sustainable architectural practices. If we study in depth the materials and techniques, we can then begin to find a progressive balance in the materials used; those which survive, decompose, and restore. Thereby creating the most sustainable design for a specific moment and context.
Intelligence is needed to maintain such a design. Given the organic nature of an ideal sustainable design, it must grow and adapt, expanding like coral over the contours of a rock. The intelligence innate to the model of the human design fuels a system that creates the most solutions for an organism. As we move away from posts and beams, the next step in architectural practices will turn to new findings in nanotechnology and the potentials of chemical-organic biomimicry based material. We will see that materials infused with this intelligence will eventually be able to build themselves with the best structural and eternal quality. Much like the coral, new technology is allowing us to consider structures that grow autonomously and organically, programmed by nature to continuously adapt into structures of efficiency, safety and optimal comfort. Collective engagement in implementing this intelligence into the natural world is what will release the design on its own. From there, it can adapt for future generations autonomously while perpetuating its own self-improvement. From its intelligence, the productivity of the ideal design extends from resources to food, to social norms and ecological regeneration.
The final element of the ideal design lies in maintaining a balance between the destructive and inventive forces inherent within the model of the human design. As these forces emerge in our designs, sustainability is maintained through the conscious balance of these natural cycles. The warning comes when harmony is lost, and the natural flow between all of these organic systems of optimal endurance are interrupted. Without having a growth of consciousness toward the interconnected-ness of nature and humanity, sustainability doesn’t mean anything.
[Published in A2 Architecture Magazine as part of a series on Sustainability — http://www.2amagazine.com/ ]