Traversing Sustainable Architecture: Between discourse and practice

Publikation: AndetAndet bidragForskning


Concepts of ‘sustainability’ have increasing informed architectural discourse since the environmental movement of the 1960s, yet practices of construction have proved resistant to change. As Hunter Lovins describes, the construction industry is “dynamically conservative – it works real hard to stay in the same place.” This quote resonates with the premise of this research: ample information, knowledge and technologies exist; so why is integration of sustainable architecture into practice so slow? Existing literature indicates that despite the immense array of existing information and knowledge, the discourse of sustainable architecture is still vast and ambiguous. Additionally, the practice of sustainable architecture is fragmented and often overrepresented by ‘shallow’ approaches adorned in technological add-ons.
The focus of this research is to investigate sustainable architecture discourse and practice, identifying the key themes which bridge or act as barriers between these two paradigms. These bridging or barrier themes are then analysed to develop understanding as to how they interrelate, and are positioned within the field of research.
The methodological approach for this research brings together bricolage and grounded theory. This approach employs six interrelated qualitative and quantitative studies to construct five key themes using information collected from a variety of primary and secondary sources. Based on the ‘grounded-bricolage’ approach, methods include: (1) diagramming and mapping of recent history, (2) a questionnaire and (3) series of semistructured interviews with leading experts in sustainable architecture from industry and academia, (4) architectural website content analysis, (5) qualitative periodical content analysis and (6) visual content analysis. The six studies have been designed responsively as new insights emerged and constructed in overlapping iterations throughout the PhD process to contribute to a cohesive body of research.
The original contribution to knowledge of this dissertation is an articulated
understanding of the relationship between sustainable architecture discourse and practice, specifically identifying the five key barriers:
• Definitions, terminology and language
• ‘Greenwashing’ and techno-centrism
• Information, knowledge and communication
• Approaches, perspectives and attitudes
• Visual language
Analysis of these themes explores their connections, content and potential to better bridge the gap between discourse and practice. The findings offer insight into how we discuss, practice, learn, communicate, approach, perceive and view sustainable architecture and prompts a re-thinking of traditional understandings of discourse and practice within the field.
UdgiverRIBA Publishing
Antal sider1
ISBN (Trykt)978-1-85946-941-5
StatusUdgivet - 2019


  • bæredygtig arkitektur
  • diskurs

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

  • Nej