Collaborative Consumption And Architecture Dissertation Or Thesis Complete

Length: 24 pages Sources: 24 Subject: Art  (general) Type: Dissertation or Thesis complete Paper: #88518479 Related Topics: Ecological Footprint, Fracking, Modern Architecture, Roman Architecture
Excerpt from Dissertation or Thesis complete :

¶ … architects in the 21st century is the issue of sustainability. Not only is there no consensus opinion on how to approach the issue of sustainability in academic circles but there is also no formula of integrating sustainability into architectural curriculum (Wright, 2003). This deficiency underscores an even more stressing problem, however: as Edwards and Hyett (2010) note, "the techniques and technologies of green design are now generally understood -- what is still lacking is an architecture profession which gives priority to ecological issues" (p. 5). In other words, there is no connection between the myriad academic approaches and the professional architectural life. Wheeler (2015) asserts that this issue is due to an inadequate definition of sustainable architecture. In the capitalistic, consumerist global environment of the 20th century, the concept of preservation and connectivity to nature was largely overshadowed by corporate demand and higher margins.

Yet the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century has witnessed a revolution in thinking about community-based standards, thanks in large part to the impact of the Internet and its ability to connect individuals from around the world and share information essentially free of cost. This sharing and connectivity has given rise to the share economy of today and the concept of collaborative consumption, seen in enterprises from AirBnB to ZipCar. These new enterprises correspond to Wheeler's (2015) assertion that what is needed is "a philosophical reconsideration of relationality" in terms of generating a "sustainable built environment." Relationality is understood as the way in which two or more persons or things interact and relate. Thus, understanding the gap between what is theorized about sustainable architecture and what is practicable in the dynamic and changing world of the 21st century is essential to overcoming the challenge of depleted resources, shrinking economies, and failing community infrastructures (Escobar, 2014).

Sustainability, Form and Function:

Historical Trends in Theory and Concept

American architect Louis Sullivan wrote in 1896 that "form ever follows function" (p. 403). Sullivan noted that this was "the law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman" -- in short that "life is recognizable in its expression," an architectural manifesto that gave birth to America's first real burst of architectural creativity and design.

The 20th century gave way, however, to Marcel Breuer's Brutalism, and this can be viewed in one sense as a result of the loss of a sense of function. Tenement dwellings were not viewed as housing people (of an inexpressible worth and value) but rather as serving a bureaucratic purpose -- boxing up as many bodies in so many meters as could be possible in a city block and then forgetting all about it. Surfaceless, oblique, anti-aesthetic, cold and unattractive, these dwellings became the soul of modern architecture, as various architects attempted to utilize this conceit and twist it or add to it their own peculiar sensibilities. The result ranged in expression from the Guggenheim Museum to the Whitney Museum of Art (Johnson, 2003). In the absence of function, form fell apart, and minimalism and abstraction filled the void.

In the 21st century, function again is becoming important. This has come about as a result of a new socio-cultural trend that has roots both in economics and environmental studies. The short of it is that sustainability is now a growing concern among developers and designers: how to create a building that is efficient and sustainable and leaves as little environmental footprint as possible yet maintains a diversity life. This was not an issue for the Brutalists of the 20th century. And for Sullivan at the end of the19th century, the issue centered more on how to create an aesthetically pleasing skyscraper that did not crush the human spirit (Morrison, 2001). Having lost sight of this manifesto over the course of a century, architects can now return to it with a renewed focus as they seek to solve the problem of sustainability while addressing both the needs of the environment and the people who will use the structure.

In collaboration with the economic ideas of "collaborative consumption" sustainability in architecture can be viewed in terms of resource efficiency. Imagine, for instance, an architectural system that can accommodate various functions and programs no matter the day, time, year or season -- and then ask: what resources will need to be consumed in order to sustain this system in an efficient manner? Consuming less and utilizing more (in terms of space, aesthetics, as Sullivan was in 1896, but the essence of the problem is more nature-driven (in terms of respect) than the architecture of the 20th century.

The notions of share economy and collaborative consumption serve as the foundation for this study in sustainability in architecture. From AirBnB to ZipCar, the share economy is revolutionizing the way in which the modern world comes to terms with the changing needs of society. The concept of utilizing more and requiring fewer resources to do so is what this notion is all about. A share economy structure is relevant to this thesis because, like HBNY (Parenthetical Space) and co-housing projects, there is an architectural basis for addressing this need. The architectural design proposition of this study is that a share economy sense can be and should be incorporated into architecture in order to advance the aims of the 21st century in terms of preserving energy, space, time, utility, and maximizing function, potential, affordability, and scale.

The question this study poses is: How can the notion of share economy be facilitated architecturally?

Problems of Consumerism and Capitalism: Theory and Trends

The consumer culture that exists as a result of our current global economic system has resulted in the destruction of the environment on a substantial scale. As Calvo and Mendoza (2000) note, the crisis in developed (and developing) worlds is coming to a head with economic collapse a high possibility. One of the economic reasons (at least in the West) for this collapse is that the means of extracting and processing the fuels needed by industry have become too expensive in relation to the profit margins (Hadley, Rennell, 2015, p. 29). Other corporate entities are destroying the environment by attempting to "modify" nature's organisms, like wheat -- which as a GMO has been shown to be toxic to both people and land (Engdahl, 2007). Yet, the consumerist culture that for so long kept Industry in tact is now shrinking as the financial world continues to rape and pillage unchecked on a global scale and the purchasing power of the middle class continues to decline (Lewis, 2011). That the demise of the middle class is coinciding with the demise of the environment is only ironic since it is primarily the excessive waste and materialism of the former that has brought about the latter (Kasser, 2002). One might be tempted to call it karma, but as Calvo and Mendozza (2000) suggest, the factors of modern collapse have been forming for decades.

Share economy is thus an important aspect of the 21st century and is relevant to the field of architecture because architects are the ones who will be providing the space for the people of tomorrow, the projects of tomorrow, the businesses of tomorrow, and the dwelling places of tomorrow. In a share economy, such as has arisen in recent decades, architects should understand the implications of their designs and how they impact and are impacted by the environment in which they create.

Any number of examples may be used to illustrate the point that global-scale consumerism leads to environmental devastation. The need for greater and greater results or for more and more supply (as in oil production) is one: the demand for oil and for bigger oil profits has led to the implementation of questionable and/or environmentally harmful methods of extracting the needed energy source from the earth. In the case of oil, these methods are found in fracking and in off-shore drilling, both of which are incredibly expensive and are only profitable if the cost of oil per barrel is high (Hadley, Rennell, 2015, p. 29). With the recent decline in the cost of oil per barrel as a part of the energy wars being waged in the Middle East (Escobar, 2014), more and more oil extraction facilities are shutting down. Ironically, the consumerist culture that spawned the industry of fracking is now responsible for its collapse: consumer demand does not match the oversupply of oil and with the impending global economic collapse that many foresee it is all just another sign that the consumerism (Kasser, 2002) which…

Sources Used in Documents:


About SsD. (2016). SsDArchitecture. Retrieved from

Botsman, R. (2010). What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.

NY: HarperCollins.

Bovill, C. (2014). Sustainability in Architecture and Urban Design. NY: Routledge.
Busta, H. (2105). Splacer brings commercial space into the sharing economy. Architect Magazine. Retrieved from
HBNY. (2006). SsD. Retrieved from
NZTA Projects. (2015). NZTA. Retrieved from

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"Collaborative Consumption And Architecture" (2016, February 18) Retrieved November 30, 2021, from

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