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Eco-Design's Cultural Context - Essay Example

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Eco-Design’s Cultural Context Introduction Built environment design has evolved over the years as influenced by changing client requirements, trends, political, social, and most recently, environmental factors. The demands of ecological, environmental and sustainable developments have dictated the need to adjust design especially for long-term built environment…
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Eco-Designs Cultural Context
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Download file to see previous pages All these factors have merged together to enforce a more compliant design of built environments and human processes. This paper will present the cultural context of “eco design” or ecological design as presented by Ken Yeang and other proponents of green or eco design. Discussion Ecological design emerged from the threat of industrialism as towns turn to cities and populations exploded. Social problems escalated as natural resources become depleted or damaged beyond repair. This called for emergency actions that pushed considerations for life outside of the earth. An early advocate for ecological design was African ecologist John Phillips who coined “the biotic community” as a holistic approach to ecology (1968, 17). It further provided links between individual actions and the dynamics of an entire biotic community. Philips introduced the holistic approach to architects and planners and the need to include ecology and all forms of life in their designs. It was said that Ian McHarg who wrote Design with Nature (1969) was influenced by Phillips and the lectures of Walter Gropius in Harvard who warned his students of the human greed that has interfered with the biological cycle of human community and the organic social structure (29). Gropius told his students to “love and respect the land almost religiously,” (Gropius, 1945, p20). He stressed that humans must act appropriately for survival and as true agent in evolution. Phillips enumerated the causes of the ecological crisis as the reckless laissez-faire economy, individualism, Western capitalist greed, chaotic urbanization, fragmentation of social structures, and lack of planning. His proposal was the oriental approach: non-anthropocentric, implicit but orderly planning, and respect for the biotic community. From here, McHarg promoted science-based modernist architecture and planning that integrated respect for nature such as that of the Tennessee Valley Authority in a time when space exploration was the trend globally, linking the moon traveller’s perspective of the Earth as a whole and not the westernized compartmentalism. McHarg’s proposal was for a landscape design of an organic community of plants, insects, fish, animals and birds that would allow human consumption based on the self-sustained capacity of the capsule equivalent to the self-sustained cabin. It mandates an inventory of the environment with energy as the currency thereby determining limitations, allowable and prohibited changes, and determination of stability and instability (McHarg, 1968, 93). He advocated a need for designers and architects to fit in well with the ecological system through their landscapes and buildings with design adjusted on the basic human needs. Enlightened but guided by space explorations, the 1970s had ecological designers adopted space technologies, analytical tools, and ways of living for a respite from the doomed industrial society: space cabin-like structures that could allow men to survive once Earth has become a dead planet like Mars. It was an ecological future outside of Earth exemplified by closed, artificial, liveable environments in space (Anker, 2005, 529). By 1969, the New Alchemy inspired by McHarg was launched with the slogan, “To Restore the Lands, Protect the Seas, and Inform the Earth’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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