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Design Approaches

Designing toward Sustainability

The Earth bears a limited amount of resources that we might re-purpose for our own uses. While the side-effects of the extraction and use of these resources are often interpreted as 'externalities' to an economic imperative, there is little doubt that our transformation of the Earth's biosphere can pose a risk - sometimes irrevocable - to the organisms (including humans) with which we share this planet. These dangers include concentrations of pollutants and energy, each of which tend to be interdependent.

Architects, as practioners in the planning and design of built space, bear a responsibility toward the health and sustainability of the environment on which it depends. This responsibility has in the past been born of a belief in the importance of place, siting and in the 'crafting' of space. Today, architects are saddled with myriad approaches that can alter the series of interdependancies on which a building relies, in very specific ways. Kearns Mancini appreciates that buildings that we design ultimately stand as exhibitive judgments on the relationship between buildings and their environment, and therefore seeks to provide the best possible sustainable design approach for each project. These approaches could be as small as a subtle change in a building's orientation to respond to solar radiation, to something as great as super-insulated envelopes based on passive design principles, or the inclusion of bio-swales and rainwater retention vessels that are tied into a building's envelope design.

In this Late-Modern era, these approaches still ring true as means to design 'machines for living,' with the understanding that these 'mechanisms' seek to bind human activities with the natural environment on which they depend, for the continued enjoyment and prosperity of future generations. This agency includes considerations of durability, proximity, adaptability and sensitivity - to a given culture and climate of place, to name a few examples. In this way, Kearns Mancini seeks to design in a local context, with a global understanding.

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