The Sustainable Envelope: Teaching Sustainable Practice in the Interior Design Studio

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To educate the next generation that sustainability is not a method, but standard practice, it is critical that we consider teaching practices that incorporate in depth understanding of sustainable practice. The sustainable envelope proposes the use of a pre-fabricated steel site as both a pedagogical decision in designing within an unarticulated shell - and as instigator in the process of conceiving a sustainable interior design. The investigation of sustainability in Interior Design necessitates the exploration of sustainability beyond the specification of materials to incorporate an appreciation for the limitations of the environment (Caimen and Olson 8). This paper will discuss a design studio project that addresses sustainability through an environmentally based research focus. Students begin the project with a research component, interpreting the efficacy of steel as a sustainable material and the sustainable implications in the process of pre-fabrication. The process of recycling steel is controversial, steel is manufactured from as much as 94% recycled material (Structural Steel Contributions 3) but, the process of recycling steel that is coated with paints and polymers reduces the strength of the steel and releases dioxins into the environment, a process which McDonough and Braungart term downcycling (56-57). This dichotomy is meant to create a discourse in determining the sustainable qualities of a material. Material is integral to the palette of interior design. In this problem the students investigate material as a catalyst for encouraging environmental and sustainable research beyond material itself. The Sustainable envelope as site instigates the consideration of sustainability both within and through the structure. This paper will discuss how the Sustainable Envelope as a research base facilitates a broadening in the knowledge of, appreciation for, and approach to consideration of sustainability beyond the specification of material in Interior Design.


Keywords: Teaching Sustainable Design, Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Envelope
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , Sustainable Envelope, The


Prof. Deborah Schneiderman

Assistant Professor, Department of Interior Design
College of Design
Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ, USA

Deborah Schneiderman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Interior Design at Arizona State University. Prof. Schneiderman holds a B.S. from Cornell University in Design and Environmental Analysis and an M. Arch from SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture). Prof. Schneiderman teaches studio and seminar courses in Design and Sustainability.

Ref: S08P0049