Author(s): Sasha Plotnikova
This paper challenges architects to consider a political economy that allows for social and ecological sustainability in the practice of architecture. At a time that bears witness to scores of radical proposals for re-shaping the field, we have the opportunity to reconsider the foundations of the field, and to pinpoint systemic injustices in which the building industries are complicit. In engaging a conversation about alternatives to a market-driven design field, this paper opens up a conversation about the ethics of sustainable design as it’s been practiced under the prevailing growth-driven economic model, in comparison with how it might fortify the longevity of a community under an alternative framework. The paper will point to examples of existing practices that apply principles of degrowth in furthering sustainable build- ing and living practices in the context of their community. Using the framework of degrowth, this paper expands the notion of sustainable design to include the social dimension (ie, whether a project sustains a community or displaces it); provides an analysis of “green growth” and “green-washing,” and equips architects with an understanding of ecology that considers the biosphere and the community where the project is sited as being inextricable from one another.
Phoebe Crisman & Kyle Konis