No more than two decades ago, sustainable architecture ceased to be an option.
As soon as designing for sustainability became a mainstream interest, a large number of directives and ubiquitous standards flourished to guide practitioners out of the uncertainties of the experimental phase. But sustainability turned out to be a quick moving target.
In less than three decades, our understanding of the relationship between human activities and the environment evolved, so that always new considerations come into play.
However, national or local regulations often lag behind the scientific discourse, occasionally hindering any design research about the topic. Furthermore, many standards were conceived when energy efficiency was the main concern, and consequently focus on a conservative rationalization of energy flows. They encourage considering buildings like closed system, thus missing opportunities to positively interact with the physical and cultural context.
In order to explore the role of architecture beyond the increasing rigidity of practice, the course aims to bring to the fore the design process and its interaction with the site.
It focuses on accomplishing sustainability by means of design, exploiting the specific features of architectural thinking that are most beneficial in a holistic approach: the use of design as a knowledge tool to investigate the natural and cultural processes on site, the blurring of scales of intervention, the continuous recursion from the general concept to the detail, ...
These tools respond to a double need.
On one side, they allow to reorganize the existing spatial framework to favor an adequate quality of life both in the densely populated metropolis and into the scarcely populated areas, where the conflictual relationship between natural and artifice often turns into attrition with catastrophic consequences.
On the other side, they are useful to deeply understand the tangling of artificial and natural processes that characterizes our spatial environment and our time, in order to be able to disentangle it and recombine them in a socially beneficial way by design.
The course encourages the reuse on existing settlements and the role of heritage as the ground for a sustainable future
Architects are nowadays global professionals, whose work opportunities span all over the world. At the same time, the object of their work is always site specific.The course takes in account this apparently contradictory situation, allowing working on local issues in different countries.
One half of the course takes place in Sardinia, where the natural landscape and the warm climate heavily influence human settlement.
The other half is located in Dessau, in the different climate and landscape of the industrialized north-east of Germany, close to Berlin, punctuated by famous Modernist buildings. Thus, the students get a broader scope, and can compare strategies and solutions across different countries and climates.