Demonstrating sustainability

  • YEAR
    Wallace, Andrew
    Ward, Stephen
    2004 Conference Papers
    Architecture and the environment


ABSTRACT: An ironic outcome of the debate on sustainability has been its use as a marketing tool and
a device to promote increased consumption of products. In the built environment, it is used to sell the
services of architects and designers and the products of those services.
This paper references research findings from a collaborative project between the Schools of
Architecture and Design, Marketing, Sustainable Energy Centre, Urban Water Resources Centre and
the School of Natural and Built Environment at the University of South Australia.
The research formed the basis of a masterplan and design proposal for a mixed use ‘demonstration
building’ at Mawson Lakes in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. The building seeks to demonstrate ideas of
living systems and responsive environments to the local community and beyond. These ideas are
communicated in a way that responds to the values of key stakeholder groups identified through the

Futuristic visions are common in the design of contemporary consumer goods such as the concept
vehicle, but rarely achieved in the construction of the built environment. Optimistic views of the future
are often tainted by the arguments of ecological doomsayers and economic rationalists. As a result,
buildings conceived from a sustainability viewpoint often focus on technical means to achieve an
environmental outcome but rarely offer readily transferable ideas or reflect the aspirations of
contemporary communities.

This paper examines a method of enabling demonstration projects to tap into contemporary values and
facilitate the transference of more visionary concepts of sustainability into the broader community. It
considers the role of market research in the design of the built environment and in particular its ability
to generate creativity in a project.


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