We need a radical shift in how we collaborate for the sake of the planet

Kayla Friedman

We have the power to shift the built environment towards sustainable development. We just need to seize it

The recent IPCC special report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, makes it resoundingly clear that the built environment has a crucial role to play in meeting carbon targets. We also know that the built environment sector has been very slow to act, and that our designs have long-lasting consequences.

We cannot keep working in the way we have been working and imagine things are going to change on their own. The built environment sector needs a radical shift towards more sustainable development. This starts at the very beginning – the strategic definition of our projects, the development of the brief, concept design and developed design.

When I explain to people that I am the course director for the Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) courses they nearly always start to talk to me about architectural design or engineering design. Occasionally someone will talk to me about specialist design – for example, lighting design, sound design, waterproofing.

What no one ever talks to me about is the finished product, that piece of built environment now operational and in use, as a holistic design.

Writer and educator John Heskett in his 2005 book, Design: A Very Short Introduction, presented the design community with the seminal sentence: “Design is to design a design to produce a design.”

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