Jan-Feb 2017

The Alchemy of (Sustainable) Design

by Dr Nirmal Kishnani

Dr Nirmal Kishnani examines the challenge of teaching sustainability in the classroom, summarising the pedagogy of the urban studio of the Master of Science, Integrated Sustainable Design programme at the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore. This is described as a set of aspirations and a framework for a studio assignment. The ambition of the studio was to trigger critical thinking in students—who struggle to translate environmental goals into spatial/planning outcomes—and to inject existing methods of urban design with new domain knowledge.

There is growing consensus that sustainability, as an imperative, compels us to rethink what we design. How this affects process and approach—how we design—remains unclear. This is true in education as it is in practice.


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