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Ecobuild and how to create sustainable communities

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While roaming in the alleys of Ecobuild I was surprised by some of the exhibitors and the products they were exhibiting. It made me wonder what the “Eco” of “Ecobuild” stood for and if it actually meant anything. Even though there were some rather dubious stands I have to admit, I did come across some truly “inspiring places” like the Future Materials area or the Ecobuild Arena, inspired from Biophilia…  however what stood out most of all, was the quality and diversity of the seminars.


 I attended a really interesting conference hosted by Gary Young (Farrell) with Liane Hartley (Mend), Sue Riddlestone (Bioregional) and Wendy Shillam on : “How design can help create sustainable communities?”.

Once we all agree that Sustainability should be fundamental while designing a building or a district, we recognize that the human dimension living there has to be taken into account.

The humanity with all its complexity and character, its modern way of living, its habits, its traditions, new technologies, trends, the way the individual fits in the community… All these aspects have an impact on the conception of the building. And if we want to create sustainable communities, architects and designers have to consider that lifestyles are as important as green buildings.

Architects and Designers have considered places and cities from an economic and physical perspective for too long. We need to consider the social dimension too as well as the messy, fluid character of the community. I really liked this thought from Liane Hartley “We need to acknowledge the importance of mess”.

Another idea presented at the seminar was that “Designing a sustainable community” is a work of many hands. People making the community are taking part in the project too. Solutions have to be co-created for sustainable livings. It’s no longer the architect drawing a concept in his/her ivory tower, it is a bottom up brief to extract from and build on the existing.


To create a sustainable community the main point is the continuity. We have to draw on tradition and on local knowledge to ensure that the people living there dont’ feel eradicated or lost in this new architecture.

Cities are social networks, they act as a platform of exchanges, of continuous communication, perpetual movement, they connect people together, it’s no longer a place we design for individuals to live but it’s a place that is adapting to the people.

For a sustainable world, we need sustainable buildings but most of all we need to design for sustainable living.


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