Sustainability has moved from being a lifestyle choice to an absolute necessity. We are staring at a stark resource crisis wrought upon the planet due to years of exploitation, mindless consumption and increased consumerism. As we march toward development, we are greeted by multiple environmental and social threats, including housing shortage, water and waste management, pollution and ageing infrastructure, among others.
The unchecked and unplanned growth of cities has threatened the future of the built habitat across cultures, making it imperative to incorporate sustainable approaches in planning, designing and built environment and innovations. The need to devise sustainable solutions to these challenges that can sustain for generations has become greater than ever.
Climate change and ecological concerns have proved that designing sustainable environments is a team effort. Key stakeholders such as architects, planners, designers, engineers and researchers must come together to solve critical problems and provide relevant and responsible solutions for the built environment.
Design innovations have made our lives easy and more efficient. Adopting an empathetic approach led to the rise in human-centric designs but failed to recognise its implications on the environment, thus sustainability taking a backseat. Climate change has forced designers to work in a dynamic environment, which often needs them to reach or adapt to new challenges, while being mindful of their innovations’ impact. This led to an urgent need of introducing sustainability in design education.
Sustainable design education is vital at all stages for students to be educated and trained, before they embark on journey in design industry. Sustainable design education involves consideration of impact of innovations on the environment and the people at all stages, from materials to assembly stage, taking it to the market and reintroducing it back to economy. It equips students with knowledge and skills to create socially and environmentally impactful yet responsible innovations, thereby making better designers and innovators.
Education must incorporate sustainability approaches in architectural studies to provide holistic design solutions. Architects and designers need to work as collaborative practitioners to create a healthy built environment.
Sustainable architecture education must involve design studios grounded in ecological concerns and village immersions to study the impacts of sustainable architecture. Educators must train budding architects in sustainable architecture, encourage them to enquire into the traditions and leverage the indigenous architecture methods to respond to climate and reduce carbon footprint. Educators must apprise students of the technical understanding of new materials and ecological implications of the design intervention and help them build a responsive attitude towards sustainability.
Educational institutes need to rethink and redesign their pedagogy, get professionals to work in a cross-disciplinary manner, derive learnings from their traditions, instill empathy and integrate their roots and concern for the community and nature with sustainable contemporary technologies and practices to offer contextual solutions. Institutes must go beyond including sustainability-centred approaches in curricula and establish industry connections that will help professions communicate their importance in a commercial setting. Sustainability should be the key approach. This will ensure that the planet and its people live healthy life.