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Architectural form and environment through the lens of integral theory

Lavaf, Yahya; Meraz, Fidel


Fidel Meraz
Senior Lecturer in Architecture


Much of contemporary discussions in sustainable design have focused mainly on objective attributes whilst overlooking the importance of environmental design factors as sensory qualities. The criticism to current approaches in sustainable design is that over the last three decades environmental design methods have mainly dealt with directly measurable criteria. That is mainly, to maximise energy efficiency and building performance.
These approaches have largely neglected the phenomenological effects of design as rather ephemeral human connections with the environment. It has also overlooked anthropological qualities that manifest as culture and rituals. This study proposes to shape architecture’s form and spaces as media for designers to drive productive environmental experiences. The framework is derived from the lenses of integral theory that is to entangle four dimensions of knowledge and experience, i.e. subjective, objective, intersubjective and interobjective aspects of designing with the environment. These four dimensions of sustainable design shape form to engender experience, manifest meaning, promote efficiency of resource use and shape form to fit to ecological context. To contextualise this theory, this paper presents a qualitative analysis of Glenn Murcutt’s work contrasted with some accepted environmental design standards.
The argument set forth here claims that the fast-growing environmental design standards could lead to risky design patterns detrimental to a sustainable future. The paper is set to establish a conceptual framework capable of making meaningful connections between experiential, ritual, and ecological aspects of environmental design. To that end it considers Murcutt’s design as a successful mechanism to suggest a paradigm shift from “design for the environment” to “design with the environment”. The concepts thus obtained can then enrich future environmental design standards that up to date have mainly delt with measurable aspects of design.


Lavaf, Y., & Meraz, F. (2021, September). Architectural form and environment through the lens of integral theory. Presented at RAPS 2021 Radicality, Bristol

Presentation Conference Type Speech
Conference Name RAPS 2021 Radicality
Conference Location Bristol
Start Date Sep 17, 2021
End Date Sep 18, 2021
Deposit Date Mar 4, 2022
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