NTU Architecture Subject Group

Atelier 2

Well-being & Sustainability

Bad architecture is in the end as much a failure of psychology as of design. It is an example expressed through materials of the same tendencies which in other domains will lead us to marry the wrong people, choose inappropriate jobs and book unsuccessful holidays: the tendency not to understand who we are and what will satisfy us.

Alain de Botton (The Architecture of Happiness, 2006 )

Sustainability and wellbeing are irrevocably intertwined in architecture: The original purpose of the primitive hut, was to protect humans from the extremes of the natural environment would be perverted by buildings that protected the environment but made their occupants sick, whilst the building that destroys the natural environment will speed the demise of human life. And yet we face a crisis in which a decline in wellbeing and a speeding-up of climate change can be traced at least in part to a construction industry that prioritises rapid and cheap development above the wellbeing of people and planet.

Skilling up for change

Clearly something has to change, quickly, and we will need the skills and training to tackle this problem. The response of the Higher Education (HE) sector to the climate and wellbeing challenge has been sporadic, with little joined-up thinking about how curricula can change to give graduates the skills they need to participate in a sustainable future or how the buildings and spaces around their institutes can support wellbeing or reduce climate change.

The Project

As part of Atelier 2, a Higher Education facility was designed to support the teaching and practice of the next generation of professionals. The graduates, through their experience completing their degree course at the facility, would emerge (happy and healthy) with the skills and experience to contribute to a sustainable future and live a sustainable lifestyle. We were open to student proposals for the course(s) that would be taught at the facility and the functional brief that would be needed to support this.

  • The curriculum: What is taught on the course(s), and how would this be different to current practice, for example in furthering skills and knowledge about sustainability and wellbeing?
  • Teaching practices: How is teaching carried out on the course? For example, what is the power relationship between students and academic staff, could students become partners in the process? Might the course become practice-based, involving the application of learning to real-life situations, benefitting the community?
  • Teaching and learning environments: What is the best setting to support your innovative curriculum and teaching methods, and the wellbeing of staff and students? Can the building itself contribute to the learning process? Can the environment in which the building sits, both natural and manmade, offer up spaces for learning?
Lead Tutors
Tom Hughes / Rebecca Pallett & Steve Banks
Support Tutors
Ana Souto & Mariza Daouti – Architecture in Context 3
Annie Duquemin & Mike Reade – Tech. And Environment in Arch. 3
Guest Reviewers
Anna Manning / Paul Crosby & Richard Fisher