Sustainable design: a counterpoint to globalisation?

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Much of the body of analysis and synthesis within the realm of sustainable architecture has focused upon the physicality of the built environment, leaving the complex relationship between culture, climate and place largely undisturbed. Examination of ancient cultures has shown that this complex matrix has been fully accounted for in determining an appropriate synthesis in the formation of place. Indeed, climatic and cultural dimensions were traditionally central in informing the making of that which we now call architecture. With the rise of international modernism and the seemingly endless expansion of globalisation, the particularities that cultural dimensions overlay in the design process have been largely left behind. Yet, in a complex and dichotomous world which simultaneously strives towards globalisation whilst pleading for ethnic, social and political diversity, it is the largely ‘undisturbed’ dimension, implicit within the many ancient cultures that may provide the key to unlock the paradox. The hypothesis that underpins this paper is that for an architectural proposition to represent a truly sustainable design solution, reference to the cultural domain must be implicit. The paper will explore historical and contemporary paradigms that affirm the role of particularity, exposing the potential of grounding the concept of place within recognisable cultural identities. Such an approach may indeed provide a counterpoint to the seemingly relentless march of globalisation, reinforcing particularity in an increasingly homogeneous world. Sustainable design providing a point of resistance?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegional identity in the age of globalisation. Vol. 1
EditorsJ. Al-Qawasmi, A. Mahmoud, A. Djerbi
Place of PublicationDhahran
PublisherCSAAR Press
Number of pages464
ISBN (Print)978995860226
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Architecture
  • Theory
  • Sustainability
  • Globalisation
  • Regional Identity


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