Sustainability and the designer: knowledge across cultures in the construction industry

Demaid, Adrian and Quintas, Paul (2005). Sustainability and the designer: knowledge across cultures in the construction industry. In: Sustainable Urban Environments: Vision into Action, 28 Feb 2005, Birmingham, UK.



In the construction industry both the design processes and the people involved in design differ significantly from the
stylized models usually promoted in the academic and business press. To the complexity that is normal business in construction industry projects add the uncertainty associated with the changing legal and ethical imperatives of sustainable development and the result is a mess.
Making sense of those processes that use knowledge about sustainability is daunting, particularly as companies behave very differently in different international contexts. The problem is further complicated by the collaborative nature of design and bidding for contracts. Specialization and the need to communicate with and between experts increase the cost of knowledge in a collaborative project.
We propose similarities between developments in the field of sustainability and developments in the field of risk, with risk having the advantage of being further down the evolutionary line. Both fields have strong dimensions of formal rules and socio-economic behaviours.
Such complexity, we argue, requires a number of perspectives to make sense of how knowledge is used in the
construction industry.

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