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Ecological Modernisation

Part 2 Dissertation 2004
Peter Brittain
Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne UK
This dissertation discusses current environmental concerns and their relevance to architecture. Beginning with an overview of the variety of definitions and models utilised to define environmentalism, it looks at the question of how best to create 'sustainable' architecture. This leads to a detailed examination of the social science construct Ecological Modernisation Theory (EMT). EMT provides a framework with which critically to appraise contemporary sustainable architectural practice and creates a 'new evolutionary trajectory founded on aggressive innovation' (Cohen/2001)

Using EMT it scrutinises the narrow approach to sustainability common within architectural practice. It discusses the possibility that the latter is a fundamentally flawed, and insufficiently ambitious approach for achieving either sustainability or society's desire for progress. It examines the implications of an architecture based upon EMT and the ideas of radical innovation contained within it. It further examines the views offered by architects who advocate an innovative technocentric approach to sustainability as well as projects that can be interpreted as precursors to such design. Recognising that ecocentric environmentalists view technocentric environmentalism and EMT with suspicion, some of the doubts that this approach create is analysed.

Peter Brittain

A well structured, written and researched dissertation which demonstrates a mature treatment of the subject matter. There is evidence of wide research beyond the conventional sustainable atchitecture literature. The student obviously has a good grasp of wider philosophical and theoretical themes within the sustainability debate and a reasonable command of their practical implications.

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