Design Studies: a reader

This book helped me a lot to widen my knowledge on sustainable design and gave me some useful examples. It highlights ways that we as humans negatively affect the environment, and assumptions we have made in the past about our world. Since the Industrial revolution we have just assumed that the earth will never stop supplying us with resources and that nature is something to be tamed and controlled. This led to us using massive amounts of the earths resources to power our ever growing world in the 18th century. Which resulted in resources like coal, wood and oil decreasing at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, even though we now know the implications of using fossil fuels we seemed to have taken no haste in changing our habits. We still use fossil fuels in majority and it hasn’t been until this year that some cities have made the switch to renewable energy. Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark beating the world as the most environmentally friendly counties. But that isn’t enough, we have had since 1896, when Swedish scientist Svante Arrenhius made the first claim of global warming, to do something about it, and break our habits. But by 2016 most countries are still powered by fossil fuels.


I then looked back through this book and assessed how I, as a spatial designer can use life cycle assessment to change my practice. Buildings are not the most sustainable objects in our world, they contain harmful materials, use up resources and have high waste in demolition. There is a lot architects are doing now to minimise this affect on the earth. Passive solar gain is a useful tool to use when heating a building. Passive Solar energy is heat energy stored in windows, door and walls and dispersed into the building during cold months but is rejected when it is hot. It minimises the need for heating throughout the building as the building regulates itself. But it takes a lot of site analysis and can change your preferred design, so a large number of architects don’t use solar gain for its full potential. Another way of using a life cycle assessment is to use cradle to cradle instead of cradle to grave. This closes the loop system and allows demolished materials to be re-used in other buildings. This is already used in a lot of housing as it is cheaper and faster to use already existing brick, but most large scale projects still source materials that are new, this may go with the fashion of modern, sleek-lined buildings but there is a market, to make modern buildings from re-used materials.

Harvard reference:

Environmental Performance Index. (2016). 2016 report. Climate and Energy. 1 (9), p200

Hazel Clark and David Brody (2009). Design Studies: a reader . London: Berg Publishers . p469-473.


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