Symposium focuses on "Sustaining Sustainability"

February 6, 2012

“Sustaining Sustainability: Alternative Approaches in Urban Ecology and Architecture,” this year’s Hans and Roger Strauch Symposium on Sustainable Design, took place in early February and included presentations from a variety of scholars, practicing architects, and conservationists.

Focusing on how the accelerating transformation of the natural environment by humans will impact the built environment, the symposium looked at questions of how architecture can evolve to include the necessary insights, knowledge, concepts, and working methods of a non-anthropocentric model that favors the interaction of species with the built environment.

Lectures were delivered by a diverse group of researchers and practitioners spanning multiple disciplines from biology to architecture, who share a common concern for what keynote speaker and co-organizer Michael Hensel has labeled “sustainability fatigue.” In his talk, Hensel, who is the head of the Research Center for Architecture and Tectonics at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, called for a non-anthropocentric architecture agenda, defining humans equal to and not separate from nature.

Presenters included Richard Bonser of the School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University; Dana Cupkova and Kevin Pratt of Epiphyte Lab and AAP’s architecture department; Efren Garcia Grinda and Cristina Diaz Moreno of AMID.cero9; Jonas Lundberg, a founding member of Urban Feature Organization; John Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington; Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto of ecoLogicStudio; Birgir Sevaldson, professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design and principal researcher in the OCEAN design research association; and David Zeigler, professor and biology department chair at the University of North Carolina. Moderators included co-organizer Mark Cruvellier, architecture department chair and associate professor; architecture professor Jonathan Ochshorn; and architecture assistant professor Jenny Sabin. Sabin also wrote a detailed recap and analysis of the symposia, titled “Towards a Complete Architecture: The Big Rethink campaign introduces a new theoretical framework for architects,” that appeared in the March 2012 issue of Architectural Review.

The symposium was made possible by a gift from Hans (B.Arch. ’80) and Roger ’78 Strauch, which supports continued engagement with the topic of sustainability through funding the annual symposia as well as a visiting professorship for a three-year period.

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