In Europe, the construction and use of buildings is responsible for 42% of our final energy consumption, 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, and more than 50% of all extracted materials. The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from 2018 states we have until 2030 to limit devastating global warming and remain below the 1.5-degree target. In the face of these global challenges, what can architects do? How can architects deliver the necessary professional activism?
There exists a variety of approaches applicable to sustainable building design with different focus and involved actors, e.g. zero-emission buildings, circular economy and product-service-systems. However, there is an increasing understanding that we are in an urgent need for a more radical transformation and innovation covering technological, institutional, business practices, and social and cultural change. Such systemic societal changes are the subject of a field of research dealing with system innovations and sustainability transitions. The emerging field of transition design is aiming at defining the role of design in such transition processes.
This PhD work sets out to explore and define the possible scope of action available for practicing architects in advancing sustainability transition in the built environment with the theoretical background of transition design. The research methodology for the dissertation will combine design approaches relevant for sustainability transitions developed from the literature review and interviews with a practice-led research. Selected approaches will be implemented and tested to maximize the transition potential of a number of projects in the architecture office Pir II during the dissertation period.
In Europe, the construction and use of buildings is responsible for 42% of our final energy consumption, 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, and more than 50% of all extracted materials (European commission, 2011). The latest UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report states that we have just 12 years to limit devastating global warming and remain below the 1.5-degree target. (IPCC, 2018) In the face of these global challenges, what can architects do? How can architects deliver the professional activism that is necessary today?
In the field of system innovation and transitions theories, Geels argues to address the persistent environmental problems, socio-technical transitions are necessary that involve not just changes in technology but also changes in consumer practices, policies, cultural meanings, infrastructures, and business models. (Geels, 2018) A new emerging field of Transition Design aims at providing the theoretical background for such socio-technical transitions and innovation in design context. Some of the core areas for theoretical and practical advancement of Transition Design are creating consortiums for applied research of large network of stakeholders, advocating for open innovation across open networks, and investigating how established and new sustainable design approaches could complement the theory and practice of Transition Design. (Gaziulusoy, 2019)
This PhD work sets out to develop a framework for sustainability innovation in architectural practice with the theoretical background of Transition Design. The work will investigate an expanded future role of the architect as an intermediary of sustainability transition through exploring, systematizing and combining relevant approaches to sustainable design, building interdisciplinary networks, and exploring collaboration methods that support experimentation and innovation in architectural practice and more generally in the building sector.