The Shape of Sustainability |

Graduation Research | Individual essay | 2014

Part of the Graduation project 'Stacked Dutch'


Besides researching the Dutch Identity the group did some research about the appearance of sustainability. Every student has written an essay about a specific aspect of what the group thought was important. All essays are combined in a book, the 'Face(s) of Sustainability'.


My personal position on this subject is based on the essay ‘The shape of sustainability’ which is written for the M3 research, combined with the seminar ‘An autarkic dwelling’ given by Maarten Willems. The research focussed on the shape of sustainability with questions such as: Is there a specific shape which we associate with sustainability and what can shape do to make a building more sustainable? It came out that shape can be an excellent tool to make a building more energy efficient in an active and a passive way. An example is given in Figure 2.5. To be more complete about this topic the abstract of the essay is posted:


It would seem logical that shape and sustainability are directly connected to each other. Reality however, shows that this is not the case. Since 'sustainable buildings’ are mostly sustainable due to technological addons and not because of their sustainable shape. This is peculiar, since the shape of a building characterizes its environmental behaviour. So is it used barely? And when architects use it, they use it in a non-academic way and more on intuition. The essay explores how sustainable buildings and their shape are related to each other, but more important, how shape and sustainability should be related. This relation is explained on the basis of three strategies by Lance Hosey: Conservation, attraction and connection. First buildings could be shaped in such a way that they use less energy and materials secondly they must be shaped beautifully so people appreciate them, and third, their shape should relate directly to its context. By combining these strategies it becomes possible to use shape and sustainability in an integral design approach that people actually appreciate. It is of great importance that sustainability is part of the design from the start of the project, otherwise only technical add-ons will be possible.


It is difficult to interpret the essay in a new design, since some relations are clear but very intensive while flexible measures are less recognizable, this would suggest that sustainability has no recognizable face. In the design explanation of this thesis it is explained how the new design copes with sustainability



2015 © Patrick van Dodewaard