Traversing Sustainable Architecture: Between discourse and practice

Reinterpreting sustainable architecture theories for improved knowledge share

A PhD project by Elizabeth Donovan

In reaction to the implications from the industrial revolution, sustainability has become a crucial and prominent issue worldwide, particularly in the last 30 years. Subsequently, sustainable architecture has grown in importance, with significant contemporary discourse emerging. However, despite the immense array of existing knowledge and literature, the discourse of sustainable architecture is still a vast and vague paradigm. Parallel to this, the current connection between discourse and practice can be seen as linear and disjointed, this is even more evident with the ambiguous nature of the discourse.

The research project is focused on exploring and understanding the relationship between sustainable architecture discourse and practice. Acknowledging sustainability as being a complex and holistic field, the project investigates different themes which influence the relationship between sustainable architecture discourse and practice. The methodological backbone of the research is an explorative in nature, employing a bricolage approach which makes it possible to investigate the field from different perspectives.

Within the bricolage methodology a number of methods of both primary and secondary data collection are thoroughly selected and utilised at different stages of the research, these include: diagramming and mapping, questionnaire with experts, semi-structured interviews, content analysis, qualitative content analysis, visual analysis and design process studies. Each method is chosen to study and triangulate different findings which materialise as knowledge and insights evolve.

Period: 1 February 2015 – 31 January 2018