Counter-Histories of Sustainability

In issue #18 of Volume, Panayiota Pyla writes in an article, Counter-Histories of Sustainability:

As the meanings and goals of sustainability are debated by architects and academics – because the planet’s problems are real and architecture has its share of responsibility – we must also remember a lesson from the history of architecture: a great cause is not enough! However noble, heroic models have pitfalls.

The concept of sustainability is not without its pitfalls of idealization nor immune from politicizing or commercializing over-simplifications. The article warns us of its many dangers, and well-worth reading.

Can architects have partnerships with techno-scientific fields without subsuming design to managerialism and anti-intellectual postures? Can ecological problems be debated in architectural circles without resorting to eco-determinism? Can architects embrace an ethical imperative without resorting to moralistic prescriptions or grand metanarratives? Maybe, but to walk between these fine lines it is important for both the profession and academia to constantly interrogate and contest emerging strategies.