Starchitect vs Sustainability in Architectural Education

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Ever since an Egyptian “master builder” drew up the plans for the first pyramid, the urge to build dazzling structures has never abated. A building's influence today depends mainly on three areas of interest: new materials, form experimentation and sustainability. Architects and public either admire the novelty of such buildings and the often unexpected spaces realized, or they are uncomfortable because the design lacks rationale: that is, the form doesn't connect to its function. Most previous paradigms of buildings where sustainability is a paramount concern isn’t necessarily perceived the most architecturally interesting, and in a league of their own. However, they are, quite rightly, receiving increasing attention as architects are requested to respond to the demands of climate change and energy requirements restrictions. Can “Starchitecture” afford to disregard the need for sustainability, or is the iconic or signature building more important than the energy it consumes and the environment it creates for its occupants? Are the real “starchitects” the master builders of the past and those architects whose projects are climatic responsive and whose belief is that architecture should be experienced instead of being aggressively promoted. As educators in the subject of architecture the authors recognize the huge influence that architectural paradigms used and studied by the schools of architecture around the world have in the shaping of our future built environment and Starchitects becoming the “role models” for the future generation of architects. The paper discusses the phenomenon and explores the necessary shift in the architecture curriculum that needs to be addressed in order to become more inclusive in order to move successfully towards sustainability.


Keywords: Star Architecture, Sustainability, Architectural Education
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Elena Douvlou

Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, University of Portsmouth
Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK

Elena joined the University of Portsmouth in October 2003. She teaches studio design to both undergraduate and diploma students including projects such as the Eco-House Live Project and is a lecturer in the subject of Sustainable Development. Elena currently co-ordinates the MSc Sustainable Architecture and Environment course and is a registered Architect both in the UK and Greece.
Her interest in the environment led her to complete a Masters in Advanced Architectural Studies at the University of Sheffield focusing on passive cooling techniques and later, as a scholar of the State Scholarships Foundation, to complete a PhD in the area of climatic responsive design and occupant comfort.
Elena has a special research interest in sustainable design and urban regeneration, building monitoring, simulation and post-occupancy evaluation and has presented papers on the subject in national and international conferences. Within her area of expertise she has published articles and has presented papers in international conferences. As an architect and environmentalist she is able to draw on her understanding of sustainable approaches to design from different cultures with a view to establishing a best practice dependent upon climatic conditions.

Zeynep Aygen

Principal Lecturer, EDAM, University of Portsmouth
Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK

I am presently a Course Leader with a MSc in Historic Building Conservation and an MSc in Heritage and Museum Studies. I am employed in the School of Environmental Design and Management at the University of Portsmouth. Formerly I was affiliated with the University of Bahrain, the Technical University of Berlin, and the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul.
Some Academic Responsibilities I have undertaken include serving as a member of the Faculty of Technology Research & Knowledge Transfer Committee.

Ref: I08P0740