Design Sustainability and Green Communities Bassam Abu-Hijleh (13/01/2015)




Bassam Abu-Hijleh

Head of the Sustainable Design of the Built Environment Programme (SDBE)
Fellow, Cardiff University (UK) - The British University in Dubai

How would you define in your own words ‘sustainability’?
Innovative solutions that enhances the human experience while reducing the demand on the environment & the pocket (i.e. cost).

Should sustainability be controlled by government / global legislation or should it rely solely on architects’ ethics and why?
I think both the stick & the carrot are needed. This is especially true at the start when people are not “educated” about the need and the cost of early adoption is high.

Can sustainability be compatible with experimental / progressive / innovative design and why?
Sustainability is a great driver for new designs. They challenge the architects to revise their priorities and their way of address design challenges. Architects will be challenged to produce function sustainable designs that are still esthetically pleasing and “economical”. This means thinking outside the box, looking for new innovations/technologies and enhancing the holistic design team approach.

Will you decline a commission if your clients declare that they are not interested and they will not pay any additional cost to your sustainable design and why?
I am not in a position to answer this, do not work with clients, but would try to “educate” the client.

It is astonishing that in the last five years or so, almost everybody claims to be ‘sustainable’. Do you think that the world is really now so much more sustainable and why?
It is a little better. Unfortunately most of the talk is for public consumption. There is a long way to go before those claims are translated to real change on the ground.

Describe your ideal sustainable design.
Pleasant, comfortable, in touch with nature, versatile, economical and environmentally friendly. As you can see, personal concerns tend to come first, which means that a sustainable design must recognize and meet the personal needs and not just focus on the big picture and risk sacrificing/alienating the end users of the design.

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