Special Issue "Sustainable Architecture"


A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Applied Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Volker M. Welter
Professor, History of Art & Architecture, Ellison Hall 2834, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106-7080, USA
Website: http://www.arthistory.ucsb.edu/faculty/welter.html
Interests: californian architectural history; Western/European architectural history from the 19th century onwards; Zionist and Israeli architectural history; the modern city since the 19th century; history and theory of sustainable architecture; contemporary architecture and architectural criticism; modern architecture in relation to philosophical and sociological thought

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For quite some time now sustainability has been an important paradigm in architecture. Yet in contrast to Modernism and Postmodernism, for example, which rather quickly created memorable designs and agreed upon conceptual parameters, sustainable architecture seems to struggle to define itself through exemplary, identifiable buildings, images, and ideas.

Depending on time, place, and architect or author, sustainability in architecture can mean the renewal of Modernism, the return of traditional ways of building, the continuous innovation of materials, technology, and construction methods, the reorganization of human life along collective lines, or a path to individual salvation. Accordingly, is sustainable architecture an architectural practice, a method, a style, a social, economic, or even aesthetic principle? How can sustainable architecture be defined other than as in reaction to existing ecological problems, especially when considering that mankind may face ecological issues that are still unknown? Looking back at decades of experiments and sustainable buildings, do the efforts amount to a history of sustainable architecture with recognizable patterns and emerging questions worthwhile the attention of the historian? Or is all that remains a collection of discarded, even if quaint designs?

Contributions are invited that critically analyze sustainable architecture from historical and contemporary perspectives while addressing questions as those outlined above and issues of comparable focus. Papers on any period, geographical area, and type of architecture, and of any methodological approach (including biographies of protagonists of sustainable architecture) will be considered, except those that specifically discuss contemporary technical solutions to current ecological problems.

Prof. Dr. Volker M. Welter
Guest Editor


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Displaying article 1-6
p. 34-48
by  and
Arts 2015, 4(2), 34-48; doi:10.3390/arts4020034
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 18 March 2015 / Accepted: 18 March 2015 / Published: 8 April 2015
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Architecture)
p. 350-366
by  and
Arts 2014, 3(4), 350-366; doi:10.3390/arts3040350
Received: 27 March 2014 / Revised: 25 August 2014 / Accepted: 29 August 2014 / Published: 14 October 2014
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Architecture)
p. 303-306
Arts 2014, 3(3), 303-306; doi:10.3390/arts3030303
Received: 18 July 2014 / Accepted: 19 July 2014 / Published: 29 July 2014
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Architecture)
p. 279-297
Arts 2014, 3(2), 279-297; doi:10.3390/arts3020279
Received: 10 May 2014 / Revised: 6 June 2014 / Accepted: 10 June 2014 / Published: 13 June 2014
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Architecture)
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p. 175-189
by  and
Arts 2014, 3(1), 175-189; doi:10.3390/arts3010175
Received: 2 January 2014 / Revised: 25 February 2014 / Accepted: 25 February 2014 / Published: 10 March 2014
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Architecture)
p. 15-26
Arts 2014, 3(1), 15-26; doi:10.3390/arts3010015
Received: 27 October 2013 / Revised: 2 December 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published: 3 January 2014
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Submitted Papers


Type of Paper: Article
Title: Dissolution of Hierarchy - A Further Development of Sustainable Architecture in the Time of Climate Adaption?
Authors: Kasper Albrektsen * and Mads Harder Danielsen
Affiliation: Faculty of Architecture and Design, Aalborg University, Østeraagade 6, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark; E-Mail: mdanie08@student.aau.dk; * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: kalbre08@student.aau.dk; Tel.: +45 – 40511540.
Abstract: The theme of sustainable architecture has been one of the most dominant topics within architectural discussions in the 21st century. A discussion where the dominating trend recent years has been the emphasis on technological solutions that can utilise nature to solve problems: Here the prominent conception of nature has been a mechanical conception with focus on utility where the primary task of a building is to protect nature from man. Contrary to this conception of nature is a contemporary trend - climatic adaption. Here a building’s capability to embrace not only protection of the nature, but also its ability to adapt to a given context and embrace its processes is of importance in order for serve as a means of solving contemporary climatic caused problems. The link of climate adaption with sustainable architecture therefore gives rise to a clash of conceptions of nature as the term of adaption indicates a closer and more dynamic relation between culture and nature!
This text seeks to investigate how this clash can contribute to a further development of sustainable architecture by asking: How can a holistic conception of nature further develop contemporary sustainable architecture towards a focus on climatic adaption?
Keywords: holism; sustainable architecture; hierarchy; landscape; climatic adaption

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Framing the field: The Award for Sustainable Architecture
Authors: Ceridwen Owen * and Jennifer Lorrimar-Shanks
Affiliation: School of Architecture & Design, University of Tasmania; E-Mail: ceridwen.owen@utas.edu.au; * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: ceridwen.owen@utas.edu.au 
Abstract: In this paper, we explore the effect the increasingly powerful discourse of sustainability is having on the field of architecture. The term ‘field’ derives from Bourdieu’s conceptualisation of fields as dynamic spaces of social relations tending towards transformation or conservation. While the overlapping fields of sustainability and architecture have historically been characterised 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.
Keywords: sustainability; architecture; awards; Bourdieu; discourse

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: From Differentiation to Concretization: Towards an integrated theory of sustainable architecture
Author: Graham Farmer
Affiliation: School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, The Quadrangle, University of Newcastle; UK; E-Mail: graham.farmer@ncl.ac.uk
Abstract: The commonplace interpretation of technology is based on a strong differentiation between technical and social realms. An alternative approach is presented that argues for their reconciliation, in order to develop an understanding of sustainable architecture in its full complexity. Drawing on the work of the philosopher, Andrew Feenberg and in particular his two-level theory of instrumentalization, sustainable design practice is conceptualized as a process whereby technical and social considerations seamlessly converge to produce ‘concrete’ artefacts that fit specific contexts. How this happens currently, together with the possibility that it might happen in other ways, is a crucial point for researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to consider. If the development of technology is to be sustainable in the broadest possible sense, then it has to deal actively and consciously with the way in which existing strategies, techniques and technologies are coded, and how new ones might be recoded in an acceptable way. Under contemporary conditions, the two levels of instrumentalization are increasingly differentiated, but this paper argues for integrative design practices and for a process of technical concretization that would potentially facilitate very different types of technological development.

Announced Papers

  1. David Serlin, Department of Communication, La Jolla, USA
  2. Mark M. Jarzombek, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT, USA

Last update: 10 February 2015

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