Environmental & Ecological Design.
'University has begun, conversations with new faces have started, international field trips have been booked and projects have been announced. My premeditated assumption that this would be a very fast pace 53 weeks was correct. Shall we begin?
Our first task is a research one, which is perfect as the research stage can be heavily under looked and labelled as a 'tick box' stage of the design process, however designing without any knowledge of a subject area is a recipe for failure. This task is a perfect example of how assumption on a subject area, without any thorough research, can do just that.
The subject area I chose to research with my group of ten other fellow product designers was environmental & ecological design. My first thoughts were:
'Oh look environmental design! Fantastic I love green and sustainable subject areas - I'll choose that one'
shortly followed by
'What's ecological design? Money? I guess I'll work it out along the way'
This a great example of a. assumption based on prior knowledge and b. not reading the question correctly. This was my common downfall in exams and why I opted for further education in an exam-anxiety-free zone. The second mistake is almost embarrassing to admit as I read it back however I think common error was the reasoning behind grouping the two subjects together. It will be intriguing to discover them both separately and how they converse with one another.
My first mistake was assuming environmental design was the same as eco-conscious or 'green' design as explained by the website wiseGEEK as I notoriously Googled the term:
'Environmental design is often confused with ecodesign, also known as green design, but the two are not the same. Ecodesign is one aspect of this discipline, and addresses sustainability concerns, but environmental design is a much broader field that involves taking the surrounding environment into account when planning a design. When successful, it is a synergy between a building, landscape, or even a product and its surroundings, to the benefit of both.'
I am almost relieved it isn't what I initially thought as I was infuriated with myself later on in the day for choosing a safer option of a topic I was already very familiar on. The phycology behind environmental design that benefit's both it's placement and what the design adds to said environment is a concept I have never fully delved into but am excited to explore.
The second is ironically what I believed the first to be.
'For centuries, humans have chosen to force their natural environments to conform to their wants and desires. This attitude of transformation rather than conformation has led to a host of problems. Buildings and other structures are built without consideration of their environments. This leads to inefficient energy use, pollution, and water shortages. Ecological design seeks to conform to the environment and substantially reduce energy consumption. By carefully considering the impact the natural environment has on a structure, it is possible to utilize the environment to improve overall energy consumption and quality of life.' (1)
I had misread the term as 'economical design' and related it to money is some way or another however the link between my newly discovered environmental design and previously explored ecological design makes much more sense. I could design the most innovative, functional, aesthetically stunning solar-powered hot tub in the world however if it's not in a sunny spot it would be inanimate, and honestly, a totally useless waste of valuable resources. In this same light, even if it was placed in a sunny spot, would this ground-breaking green hot tub be appropriate in a natural environment, it would only be benefitting the designer and not it's surrounding. If anything, it would be hindering the surroundings for the sake of the design. (2)
And in what way is that ecological?
That is the question and those are my initial thoughts based upon two generic Google searches. However, this week and the next I will explore broader research tactics and hopefully even conduct some primary research.
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