10 Pages

Acting up: architectural practice as ecological performance

ByKarin Jaschke

In a recent lecture Australian design theorist Anne-Marie Willis invited architects and

designers to leave aside the issue of sustainability for a moment and instead focus

their attention on ‘the unsustainable’: ‘Can we see the unsustainable?’ she asked

(Willis 2008). Do we really understand what is unsustainable about the present state of

the world? It has become de rigueur to act ‘sustainably’ and a particular type of sup-

posedly sustainable design solutions offer themselves so readily that they may by now

obscure rather than reveal the extent of the problem that the world is facing: by instill-

ing a false sense of relief, by thus deflating the debate, and by potentially sustaining

the unsustainable.1 Asking for the unsustainable may be a corrective to this but given

that most architects, like other modern urban citizens, are intimately familiar with and

dependent on an unsustainable lifeworld – and largely unfamiliar with sound ecological

environments – it may be difficult to answer the question.2