Conventional methods of building construction consume huge quantities of material and natural resources. Many of the building materials are non-renewable and have negative impact on the environment. Building sector is the single largest contributor to climate change with the used phase of buildings alone estimated to be responsible for 30–40% of total global greenhouse gas emission. Almost 3 billion tonnes of raw materials i.e. 40–50% of the total flow in the global economy are used in the manufacture of building products and components annually. Building construction and demolition waste contributes about 40% of solid waste streams in developed countries.
In response to this destruction, building construction professionals and community at large has come with standards, guidelines, rating systems and a barrage of technological developments that improve the efficiency of production and performance of building components. However, by and large, these have been ineffective in mitigating the impact of this sector, which is only second after agriculture in its ecological footprint on the planet. There are green buildings but these are devoid of sensitive and caring residents.
A new environmental approach has recently emerged which advocates that measures be focused on the consumer rather than efficient technology. New tools in the fields of behavioral science and behavioral economy are emerging directing towards alternative economical paradigms that challenge our traditional definitions for “growth” and “profit”.
The theme of the workshop, ‘Small is Beautiful’ adopted from E.F. Schumacher’s work addresses the optimization of resources at the individual and community level. Participants are asked to engage in questions such as ‘what is small? What is beautiful? Is it with people and their spaces or their shared values? The workshop also invites participants to ask ‘what can you learn from these spaces that you can adopt and recommend?’
The course is a seven-day interdisciplinary design workshop that will take place simultaneously at the Rachana Sansad Institute of Environmental Architecture in Mumbai (RSIEA) and at the Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts in Jerusalem. The course will focus on integrating practice and knowledge from different design disciplines in order to develop innovative design solutions for micro living spaces.
During this process we will address various issues related to sustainability: current trends of increasing housing size, different opportunities of resource, space and infrastructure sharing, design for low-income families, cultural and behavioral driven design, etc., all of which will lead to the saving of resources and the reduction of pollution.
Participants from different design disciplines will work in mixed groups. The groups will be assigned case studies of dense living spaces in Jerusalem or in Mumbai and they will explore different aspect of their living and environmental conditions. Based on this analysis, the students will be asked to design solutions of various kinds: architectural configurations, products and services that will advance a more efficient use of space, energy, food etc., as well as to design campaigns that will encourage changes in behavioural patterns that influence human habits of consumption.