Define Sustainability

Week 6_Makayla Hansen

Is sustainability dead? We live in a world filled with waste that has only recently identified the need for change. Reducing, reusing, and recycling is a concept that we are all aware of, and one that many people advocate, including myself. However, after reading through several articles and listening to a couple lectures, I was intrigued by the idea that even though most people seem to agree with the purpose behind sustainability, it has become relatively mundane. Many articles noted that sustainability is “missing the mark”, not necessarily appealing or “sexy”, or something practiced out of guilt. The way in which sustainability is defined seems to have become inapplicable. The Webster Dictionary describes sustainability as cable of being maintained, but it is clear that our excessive lifestyle is not going to remain viable. In Thomas Fisher’s Lecture, he noted that the human race is stressing the environmental system, and like any other system, this continued stress will lead to collapse. The US Environmental Production Agency presents what I think is a more workable definition of sustainability: “To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations”. I am not trying to prove that sustainability is pointless, but rather argue that our efforts need a shift of focus.


Lecture by Thomas Fisher, October 11, 2016.




One comment

  1. maggiekrantz

    Maggie Krantz / comment 2 / week 7

    I agree that the concept of sustainability has lost its steam. Most people see sustainability as mundane or boring. It is considered important but, doesn’t grab your eye or catch your attention. No one looks at a waste management system and says, “wow that is so cool”. However, this lack of interest can be overcome if designers, architects, and engineers work together to create visually stimulating and interesting designs that engage the public with the idea of sustainability. Instead of hiding these advanced systems underground or behind curtain walls, architects should make them a part of the facade.
    Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) located in Copenhagen, Denmark is at the forefront of this design. They redesigned Copenhagen’s mundane recycling center to double as a public urban space and a ski slope in the winter. Syndhavns Recycling Center will now have picnic areas and fitness facilities on top along with the waste management system underground, visible through a window wall at street level. This creative design generates the conversation that sustainability doesn’t have to be boring or hidden. It takes an overlooked aspect of sustainability and puts it as the focus for gatherings and fun. More projects like this one should be created and executed to make sustainability an interesting topic that is integrated into the daily lives of everyone. To enact change, professionals should use design to foster this discussion and engage the public in action.


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