Positing a holistic approach to sustainability

  • YEAR
    de Jong, Ursula
    2007 Conference Papers
    Teaching in Architecture


Abstract: This paper uses my home institution, the School of Architecture and Building at Deakin
University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, as a case study of sustainability in context. Reflectively and
critically it looks at three areas: the Waterfront Campus which houses the School of Architecture and
Building; the underpinning pedagogy of the current curriculum in the School of Architecture and
Building; and the challenges of implementing an integrated holistic transdisciplinary approach to ESD
(variously defined as ecologically sustainable design or environmentally sustainable development) in
the School of Architecture and Building. This paper examines: Where is it taught? What is taught?
What guides the teaching? How are they related? and What would be a better way of teaching?

The School of Architecture and Building is located in a restored, recycled and redeveloped woolstore,
originally built during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, overlooking Corio Bay. As a living
example of adaptive reuse it invites consideration of the ongoing cultural, social and civic values of
heritage, and demonstrates aspects of sustainability, and unsustainability, in practice to students who
use it every day. An exploration of the underpinning pedagogy and raison d’etre of the current
curriculum in the School of Architecture and Building reveals an additive rather than an integrated
approach to sustainability. The architecture profession’s approach to ESD will be examined through
the RAIA’s policies and their impact on practice. The nexus between practice and teaching is revealed
through the accreditation process. Traditionally aspects of ESD have been taught as separate units of
study within the curriculum. This paper argues for a significant transformation in our thinking, in order
to affect a change in our teaching/learning approach, such that current social, environmental and
economic issues are addressed holistically. In a climate where we are doing “too little, too late” it
signals a profound shift in the way we must address the issue of sustainability.


To top