The project entitled ‘Responsible Architecture: Relational Approaches to Sustainable Behavior in Design’ is a practice-based research project that strives to develop a critical framework for the integration of relational approaches to promote sustainable behavior in architectural practice and learning. It investigates the relationship between sustainable practices in architecture and the prevailing architectural perspectives (its worldviews, values, and practices), and it evaluates the necessary transformation these need to undergo in response to our time’s increasing environmental and social challenges.
Drawing from a multidisciplinary approach supplied by environmental psychology, environmental education, critical environmental studies, and participatory design, the project delineates responsibility as a critical framework and a relational tool. This framework and tools aim to facilitate the development of strategies for architects to incorporate sustainable behavior in design projects. A distinct attribute of Responsible Architecture (RA) is its acknowledgment of the root of sustainable behavior being intertwined with an architect’s emotional ability to handle the numerous psychological and social challenges in the pursuit to practice sustainability. This ability can be enriched by working on and achieving emotional attunement in our practice, such as aligning our worldviews and values with our professional practices. Thus, building on a critical framework, the project also proposes relational tools designed to assist architects in cultivating this emotional capacity.
The perspective proposed here is elaborated and cultivated through diverse experimental engagements, such as interviews with professionals in the field of architectural sustainability, participatory design workshops within the architectural studio, and research within post-graduate architectural education settings. These experimental engagements yielded insights into the construction of the RA critical framework and strategies that might challenge and modify current architectural practice and education.
By broadening the dimensions of responsibility within architecture to include a critical and relational practice, this study doesn’t provide a final answer to RA. Instead, it prompts all current and future architects to become active and conscious of their individual and collective responsibilities in practicing architecture that is more responsive to the environmental and social challenges of our time.