The role of architecture in producing urban qualities for sustainability : Implications for the future of architectural education

Wiedmann, Florian and Salama, Ashraf M; (2012) The role of architecture in producing urban qualities for sustainability : Implications for the future of architectural education. In: The Proceedings of Malaysian Architectural Education Conference 2012. University Putra Malaysia, MYS, pp. 20-26. ISBN 978 – 5545 – 05 – 4 (

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Architecture has historically evolved into an interdisciplinary subject dealing with design, engineering and psychology. The contemporary tendency in both professional practice and education to view architecture mainly as a form of art has led to the neglect of its holistic dimension in producing the built environment. Thus, the different approaches to how architecture can affect the development of sustainability need to be taught by introducing a comprehensive framework, which is built on all fundamental factors within the production of urban qualities. This paper therefore explores a comprehensive and multi-layered teaching framework by relating the space theory of the French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre to the contemporary discussion about sustainability. Henri Lefebvre distinguished three main dimensions producing space, known as conceived, perceived and lived space. All three dimensions play a significant role in producing the three main urban qualities, which can be categorized in terms of urban efficiency, urban diversity and urban identity. An attempt is made to identify the distinct role of architecture in developing these urban qualities that are essential for sustainable urban growth. It is the position of the authors that the teaching of architecture for sustainability cannot be reduced to a series of lectures about ecological design and the integration of sustainable technologies. In fact, a more holistic view of architecture and its role within urbanism has to be delivered by instructors and practiced by the students through structured experiences that range from macro contexts to micro scales and those in between, where the ultimate objective is to graduate professionals capable of positioning architecture in its contextual realities. Thus, the teaching of architecture for sustainability needs to be based on an open philosophical framework asking the essential questions of space and time.