Value-change and self-reflective practice in ecologically sustainable design
Authors: Mellersh-Lucas, Susan ; de Jong, Ursula ; Fuller, Robert
ABSTRACT: Ecologically sustainable design is a transformative design paradigm based on the theory
of interdependence. This theory requires that the transformative agenda of design is holistic in
practice. In effect, the requirement is for value-change on the part of the designer along with
transformation of the built environment.
This paper, based on recently completed research into design practice, argues that value-change rests
on certainties that are drawn on intuitively while designing, and that this intuitive process is
characteristic of design as praxis. It is further argued that design, as praxis, requires a
phenomenological approach for inculcating value-change. A phenomenological approach relies on
self-reflective practices exemplified by meditation and yoga that can focus on the designer’s ethical
know-how. A model for this approach to value-change, the biopsychosocial approach, already exists
within clinical medicine.
This paper presents findings from interviews with key architects practising self-reflection and/or
ecologically sustainable design. These highlight the premium placed by these architects on both
certainty and empathy, and how these values influence design as praxis. Formalising techniques for
closer scrutiny of these values will highlight design as praxis. Doing so will critically strengthen
ecologically sustainable design as holistic, transformative practice.