Fall 2012

The Poetics and Politics of Sustainable Architecture

Listed in: Architectural Studies, as ARCH-375  |  Environmental Studies, as ENST-375

Moodle site: Course

Faculty

Gabriel Arboleda (Section 01)

Description

(Offered as ENST 375 and ARCH 375.)  This course interrogates the prevalent discourse of sustainability in architectural design literature, under the premise that "sustainability" is a politically-framed and context-dependent notion.

The main issue we explore is the often sidelined disconnect between the green design discourse vis-à-vis issues of poverty, migration, and modernization. On one side of this disconnect there is a green design imaginary—based on the idea that everybody, everywhere agrees with the global environmental agenda of natural preservation, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and alternative technologies. On the other side there are four billion people in the world living below the poverty line, and as they face socio-economic pressures, their interests are often at odds with the global ideals of sustainable design and development. If the global green imaginary celebrates exuberant forests, in the local experience the forests are viewed as wood for cooking.

By looking at canonical texts on green design, and analyzing these in light of current events and social science theory, we critically study how the sustainable design discourse relates to that disconnect. Topics include green building activism and so-called barefoot architecture, naturalism in architecture, and an ethno-architectural analysis of Third World villager experiences. We also study the discourse of green design and culture, the poetics and politics of intermediate technology, and lastly, issues of "green colonialism" and the commodification of the sustainability discourse.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Five College Visiting Professor Arboleda.

Offerings

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013