In 1973, with the beginning of the energy crisis, the first wave of thought focused on searching for simpler environmental solutions for buildings. Architects and engineers began discussing how building and design concepts could be modified to create buildings more in tune with environmental parameters. This marked the beginning of focusing on achieving ecological designs within the built environment.
With concerns for green issues now widespread, it is hard for architects and the general public to put the various architectural attempts into context. Some designers choose to retreat from mass production and high technology, in favour of a sophisticated, knowing primitivism, while others view the mass industrial and scientific techniques which have contributed to the ecological crisis as crucial to its solution. Some of this concerned effort is constructional, some aesthetic, both symbolic of green values and issues. The changing view of nature and the organic tradition have been obscured by developing enthusiasm for technology and future progresses.
Both hi-tech buildings and those of natural and organic forms are being labelled 'ecological'. Is this an appropriate label for both building types, despite the fact that they approach environmental problems differently? Is 'ecological', perhaps, a misnomer, when it describes a building which relies on technology to solve problems of energy consumption? Is it true that technology offers the ideal solution to achieving an environmentally responsive architecture, as many architects have suggested?
It appears that there is a new ideal for ecological architecture being established among architects who believe that a more natural and holistic approach to design is required. This dissertation addresses issues of ecological architecture and establishes a definition of ecology within buildings. It suggests that this new emphasis on working with the environment may have instigated a new methodology for a truly natural, ecological architecture.
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