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Arts 2015, 4(2), 34-48;

Framing the Field: The Award for Sustainable Architecture

School of Architecture and Design, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 1-323 Launceston Tasmania 7250, Australia
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Volker M. Welter
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 18 March 2015 / Accepted: 18 March 2015 / Published: 8 April 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Architecture)
Full-Text   |   PDF [578 KB, uploaded 8 April 2015]


In this paper, we explore the effect that the increasingly powerful discourse of sustainability is having on the field of architecture. The term “field” derives from Bourdieu’s conceptualization of fields as dynamic spaces of social relations tending towards transformation or conservation. While the overlapping fields of sustainability and architecture have historically been characterized by resistance, shifts in environmental discourse towards complexity and systems thinking and the inclusion of cultural, social, political and economic concerns within the broader mandate of sustainability signal a more synergistic ideological terrain. We use methods of narrative analysis to explore these shifts through the localized discourse of the award for sustainable architecture within the Australian context and offer a brief comparative analysis of the sustainable architecture awards discourse in Britain and North America. As arguably the most public elucidations of the profession’s ideology, architecture awards are a productive place in which to explore constructions of “sustainable architecture”. The narrative analysis reveals a trajectory towards assimilation supported by the positioning of sustainability as fundamentally a social, as well as an environmental practice. Contentions surrounding the ultimate disappearance of the award, however, reveal a more perverse relationship between sustainability and architecture. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; architecture; awards; Bourdieu; discourse sustainability; architecture; awards; Bourdieu; discourse
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Owen, C.; Lorrimar-Shanks, J. Framing the Field: The Award for Sustainable Architecture. Arts 2015, 4, 34-48.

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