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Introduction to Sustainability

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Sustainable ArchitectureProf. Avlokitha AgrawalDepartment of Architecture & PlanningIndian Institute of Technology, RoorkeeLecture – 01Introduction to SustainabilityGood morning, I am Doctor Avlokita Agrawal, assistant professor at Department ofArchitecture and Planning, IIT, Roorkee. Today, I am going to start this course onSustainable Architecture. Now, before I start about what sustainable architecture is andwhat are the technical details methodologies and processes of deriving sustainablearchitecture of designing sustainable architecture I would first start with the philosophyof it, why at all are we talking about a thing as sustainable architecture.(Refer Slide Time: 01:05)So, couple of questions which we would like to answer through this introduction tosustainable architecture are why at all are we talking about sustainability and sustainablearchitecture and why at all are we worried? What is it that sustains, sustains forever andwho are we? Why are we looking for solutions? So, before we look for solutions wemust understand what is our own identity, that will help us in seeking solutions to someof the problems that we will encounter.So, we will start with the first question why at all are we talking about sustainability andsustainable architecture. So, it is not just architecture where sustainability is being talked about, we are talking about sustainability in almost every domain of life here, we aretalking about sustainable transportation, we are talking about sustainable cities, we aretalking about sustainable development and we are also talking about sustainablearchitecture.(Refer Slide Time: 02:18)Why are we talking about it? Because of some of the problems like the one on thescreen. An environment has been totally degraded there is no clean air to breath, there isno clean drinking water available or if it is it has reduced greatly in the quantity. So, it isavailable for a very small population of the world. (Refer Slide Time: 02:43)We have lot of garbage, lot of waste which is lying around us polluting our environmentsfurther.(Refer Slide Time: 02:48)We hardly have trees left environment which we require to breath to flourish to healthilygrow and also to rejuvenate ourselves. So, this overall environment in which we areliving has been degrading day-by-day. So, why are we worried? We as humans havebeen surviving for all these centuries all these ages and we are the most intelligent creatures of the world of god, why are we worried? Cannot we still survive all thatpollution?Yes, we are doing, we are developing technologies to clean the water; we are developingtechnologies to clean the air; we are developing technologies to carry ourselves to movetransportation devices; mechanisms which are intelligent which are technologicallyadvanced; we are reaching out to space; we are reaching mars; trying to buildcommunities, colonies there on mars; we are reaching moon and we have conqueredalmost the entire universe, why are we still worried?Are we worried for this polar bear which is on the verge of extinction; are we worriedabout the glaciers which are melting; are we worried about the forests which are burningon an everyday basis; are we worried off for all that, that is happening around us,probably not. So, what is it that is keeping us worried? We are worried about our ownfuture.(Refer Slide Time: 04:29)All these environmental changes which are happening because of the so calleddevelopment which is taking place our own survival is at stake. We are worried for ourown future, we will not have water to drink in the times to come, how would we survive,how would we sustain. We will have no clean air to breath how will our children go outin the open and work, play, carry on with their lives. How would we survive? that is what is keeping us worried with so much of climate change happening, so many oftsunamis and cyclones and earthquakes the intensity as well as the frequency increasing.There is more and more damage to human life and we are worried about that only. It isnot a damage only to human life, it is a damage to all other life forms as well, but we areworried about our own existence and that is the reason we are talking about solutionswhich are sustainable which will continue to go on, and we very clearly know that whatwe are doing is not sustainable it cannot sustain for a longer period.(Refer Slide Time: 05:57)So, the question is, what sustains? This is an image of an abandoned fishing village inRussia which has been left on it is own and we can very clearly see what sustains here?The only thing that sustains here is nature. Nature sustains itself anything that is lefts tonature we will sustain we will grow on it is own in it is free form. (Refer Slide Time: 06:21)And as humans, we have very clearly understood that it is only nature which can sustainitself none of the artificial human made development or structures will survive or sustainif it does not follow nature. And, who are we? When we are talking about nature as aseparate entity and we human beings are able to create something which is not nature isnot there a conflict.We are talking about identifying our own selves and that is the question, who are we?We are part of nature, we are an integral part of nature and a very small part of thatnature which has thousands and thousands of other life forms plants, animals, varietiesand species of them, we are just one small portion of that. But, we have made ourselvesso dominant that we think that we can take care or take over rest of the life forms and thenature around us, but essentially we are an integral part of that nature, we are the natureitself.The moment we detach ourselves our built environment, our buildings, our immediatesurroundings and environment from nature is where this problem comes from. Wherethis entire problem of sustainability of not sustaining comes into picture? Long backwhen human identified himself as part of the nature these problems did not arise.So, when we say that a only thing the only thing which sustains is nature. So, we have toabide by the rules of this nature and there are very clear distinct and identified rules ofthe nature, these are interdependency, efficiency, survival and change. (Refer Slide Time: 08:41)First of all let us look at the rule of interdependence. Anything in nature follows thisessential rule of interdependence, nothing in this nature is independent.(Refer Slide Time: 08:54)Everything for it is survival requires the presence of other beings around it, they may belife forms or they may not be there life forms, but we require them. And, there is aninterdependence it is not that one is dependent on the other, it is always a mutual thingfor our food, for our life, for our sustenance we require all these other forms. (Refer Slide Time: 09:21)If we realize that and we realize that no individual can probably survive, but it is only acommunity and different communities together and an entire ecosystem which willhealthily flourish and survive is when we will be able to create these systems which areinterdependent in nature.(Refer Slide Time: 09:44)The waste from one is always a useful product to the other or there are systems in naturewhich take care of that waste, and nothing is actually a waste. All our systems have torealize that and form such interdependent systems where nothing is a byproduct or a waste and everything is within a circle and utilized by the other system, it is aninterdependent system.(Refer Slide Time: 10:09)The next is the rule of efficiency. Anything that survives in the nature is highly efficientby virtue of its design, by virtue of the way it consumes resources and produces thesebyproducts which are of course, useful to the other.(Refer Slide Time: 10:30)Anything that flourishes and survives, sustains is efficient. (Refer Slide Time: 10:44)(Refer Slide Time: 10:52)However, we as humans are not too bothered about efficiency. Many our times oursystems are highly inefficient they eat up, they take up a lot of resources like energy,water, air and in turn pollute them or do not produce the intended result in an efficientmanner, this is the rule of efficiency that we are talking about. We look at any design innature anything that has survived or sustain itself is highly efficient. (Refer Slide Time: 11:26)And the one which was not has collapsed and has been taken over by other systems.(Refer Slide Time: 11:34)We by virtue of the intelligence that we possess or the power that we have, we make ourinefficient systems run for long, but in the long run they cannot sustain and that is whatwe are realizing gradually. Transportation systems which are inefficient are graduallybeing replaced, construction systems which are inefficient are gradually being replaced.And, we would realize the problems or issues arising out of inefficiency when we have agreater demand and less of the supply as long as there is less of demand and ample supply. We would not realize the problem of this inefficiency arising, but looking at theworld today. We have huge population, global population and we have we require somany resources to fulfill the needs of this population that is where we realize that everysystem has to be efficient.(Refer Slide Time: 12:45)So, from micro scale micro level beings things around us in nature to the macro onessuch as a GalaxyRealloc Sea itself, everything by virtue of its design, form, consumptionof resources it is efficient. Next is the rule of survival; so, it is always this survival of thefittest. So, it is not that our systems have to be efficient or interdependent they have to bestrong, they have to be robust to survive the test of time. (Refer Slide Time: 13:15)We cannot create fragile systems and expect them to sustain the systems have to berobust. However, when we come and we look at examples of what sustains we may alsocome across systems which are weak or fragile, but they have different mechanisms tosurvive. For example, here we look at one species which is strong, very strong.(Refer Slide Time: 14:03) (Refer Slide Time: 14:05)So, there is lesser of that offspring, lesser population because it will be able to surviveitself same with other very strong or robust species, same with very strong efficientsystems. They do not need a larger or bigger number to survive or sustain; however, ifwe look at systems or species which are weak which are not so strong, there we wouldrequire some other mechanism.(Refer Slide Time: 14:07) (Refer Slide Time: 14:11)For example, here the mechanism is larger population because large number of these thisspecie will actually be eaten up, taken up as a food as food by other species which aremore stronger and have lesser population. So, in the end it is a balance, they will stillsurvive, but by virtue of something else. So, for example, if we looking at architecturesynonym, we have a hut which consumes lesser resources.For example the dried, wood and leaves and tatchouch like that it consumes less amountof resources it is very fragile, but yet it sustains because year after year the same resourcewhich is required to construct that hard hut will be added, replaced, replenished or it willbe reformed.However, if you look at a very robust fort where the kind of material which has gone incannot be replenished or replaced every year, year after year it cannot be recreated. So,there are different strategies to how systems sustain one of them being the rule ofstrength survival. (Refer Slide Time: 15:41)The last but one of the most important rules of nature of sustaining is the rule of change.Anything which adapts itself and evolves changes with time the context and therequirements is more likely to survive and sustain.(Refer Slide Time: 16:03)If we do not change, if we do not evolve so, this is a very common and establishedtheory of adaptation you can read more from this link on adaptation; so, this is fromnature. (Refer Slide Time: 16:15)But, when we adapt when we change to the given context and circumstances situations iswhen we are more likely to sustain to survive. The answer to which we were looking forwas who are we and the answer to that was we are part of the nature, and early humanbeings very clearly understood that realized that they were part of the nature. And hence,the living the way they lived was integrally connected derived from nature and we reallydid not have problems.So, if you look at the native tribes from all over the world in different climatic zones, inregions which have different resources available with them. We see how humans wereintegrally connected to nature. For example, this tribe in the tropical part of the world thekind of clothing they have, the kind of residences, the kind of huts that they have aredirectly responding to the nature around them. (Refer Slide Time: 17:20)(Refer Slide Time: 17:21) (Refer Slide Time: 17:26)(Refer Slide Time: 17:29)If we look at some of the warmer regions the responses are very very similar. How theyrespond to the rains heavy rains which are there, how they respond to the heavily thicklygrown forest which is around them. (Refer Slide Time: 17:42)The responses are contextual..(Refer Slide Time: 17:44)That is what all the human beings across the world who are doing. (Refer Slide Time: 17:48)If you look at the colder regions, the way they cover themselves, the kind of resourcesthat they use woolen clothes and mechanisms to keep themselves warm are common,they are similar.(Refer Slide Time: 17:57) (Refer Slide Time: 17:58)(Refer Slide Time: 18:00) (Refer Slide Time: 18:02)(Refer Slide Time: 18:04)The responses in terms of architecture, the responses in terms of their food habits, theresponses in terms of our clothing they are all very very similar. (Refer Slide Time: 18:12)And this is simply reflecting the basic fundamental that humans were very connectedwith nature.(Refer Slide Time: 18:21)And that is the reason we survived, we survived very efficiently. (Refer Slide Time: 18:25)Now, each of these dress that the eskimos are wearing requires almost an year and half tomake itself, but they do not have each eskimo does not have many dresses these fluffysuits that they are wearing, they do not have many of them. They realize the importanceit is procured from one of the renders which died of which the meat is taken as the food,the fat is taken as fuel to light their homes to keep themselves warm inside their homes.So, each of the life form a resource which is available around is not wasted it isinterdependent, but even when it is available in abundance it is not abused, it is used andit is efficiently used. So, there is efficiency and it has they have adaptive, adaptedthemselves over time, they realized that they have severe cold around them, this is howthey adapt to the surroundings adapt to their context. (Refer Slide Time: 19:41)Look at any response of these early human beings and we see that they have a specificresponse to the context in which they are placed.(Refer Slide Time: 19:54)Looking at any of these pictures that I have just shown you we can very clearly identifythat this is a picture from a native tribe living somewhere in the cold and regions coldregions of the world. Looking at these pictures we can very clearly see that this isprobably the tropical region. Looking at some of these pictures we very clearly know,understand this is the drier parts and their practices, the way of living everything reflects their context. So, another thing that comes to our mind is the context to which we areresponding.Now, if we were doing all that what is the problem, where is the problem that we see,why are we not able to carry on the way they were doing, ok. So, there are severalreasons, several answers to this problem. One, which is the foremost and the major one isoura population has exploded.We will talk about it in subsequent lectures, but the problem is that there is a greaterdemand. There is a huge demand for resources because humans have increased they haveoverpowered all other life forms, all other species have been reduced greatly while we ashuman beings are just increasing in numbers, I would not use the word flourishing herebecause we are not really flourishing.We are just increasing in numbers along with a lot of problems, physical problems,psychological problems, societal problems we are just growing in numbers. So, when wehad such a wonderful past to look at the way humans responded to their context to theirsurroundings where is the problem right now in current context.(Refer Slide Time: 21:52)So, this is one of the problems, major problems. Each one of us across the world has anotion of how we should live and this notion unfortunately is becoming globalized. Wehave to have the same types of houses, we have to wear the same types of dresses, we have to eat the same kind of food even when it is not contextual at all. We are talkingabout oura lifestyle problem, it may seem irrelevant when we are actually going to read acourse like sustainable architecture, but actually the problem arises from there and alsothe solution to it is embedded in that.So, we are looking at solutions which are global, the in ignoring our local context. We donot know we do not want to respond to the local context, we only want to look at theglobal solutions and which is solutions like this we have air conditioned buildings airconditioned spaces, we do not care what kind of climate are we living in all of us wearthe same kinds of clothes throughout the year.So, we have summers, we have winters, we have rains, but when we are in an airconditioned environment we are in the same kind of attire throughout the year. Thisphotograph could be from anywhere in the world it could be from one of the very coldcountries or it could be in highly warm tropical countries, it could be anywhere, it couldbe a desert, but this will be a typical photograph.(Refer Slide Time: 23:38)This is what we are going towards we are moving towards and that is what is creating themajor problem, ignoring what our local context is. (Refer Slide Time: 23:48)And hence, since we have the same kind of expectation this is the kind of output we getin terms of architecture. Go wherever in the world, the same class of building, samecategory of buildings look the same I do not know where these photographs have beenpicked up from, I do not remember and I do not need to remember because they could beanywhere in the world. Same materials being used, we are using concrete, we are usingbrick, we are using steel, we are using glass, same types of materials are being used,same types of design responses are being used.We see the same multi storied buildings which are just similar in design, irrespective ofwhat kind of climatic context it is a response to, there is no difference so, that is what iscausing all the problems. The problem is of the resources which are dwindling which arereducing which are going down, the increased huge demand which is common which isglobal, but instead of utilizing and responding to these problems through the resourceswhich are locally available. The expertise which is locally available which we haveacquired the skills that we have acquired over years.We are looking for solutions which are global. We are procuring our resources from faroff places instead of looking at what is immediate, immediately available to us in oursurroundings that is causing greater problems. We are not responding to our immediatesurroundings, I am not saying only environmentally, we are not even looking at the context immediate context of society, we are not looking at the immediatemage atcontext of economy, we are copying it from a global culture.So, ignoring the environment, ignoring the people, ignoring the economy is actuallygiving rise to problems which can be categorized as unsustainable. So gradually, as wemove on into the course scores; we would see what are these specific problems that weare talking about when we are talking about this un sustainability as a larger problem,what are the specific problems of development of how humans are developing one.Second, we would be looking at solutions to that generic solutions.We would also be looking at problems related to architecture specifically architectureand then looking at generic solutions to that and also specific solutions to that. Themethodologies to arrive at those solutions the generic methodologies and also specifictools of arriving at these solutions.So, that is all for the first introductory lecture, couple of next lectures next few lectureswe will only be talking about the theoretical understanding of sustainability orsustainable development sustainable architecture as a concept before we really move intothe specifics of this course. So, the first week we will largely be focusing on the commontopics; hope you enjoy the sessions, hope you enjoy the course.Thank you.

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