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Buildings, Culture and Environment: Informing Local and Global Practices

ISBN: 978-1-4051-0004-5
416 pages
October 2003, Wiley-Blackwell
Buildings, Culture and Environment: Informing Local and Global Practices (1405100044) cover image


With accelerating change towards globalisation, the efficacy of design solutions not embedded within regional culture has been prone to failure - technically, socially and economically. Environmental problems and questions surrounding how to achieve a sustainable built environment are now posing urgent challenges to built environment practitioners and researcher. However, international cooperation in setting targets and standards as well as an increasing exchange of environmental information and practices present designers, clients and occupants with new problems that comprise local needs and the built environment.

This book addresses the role regional culture play in the successful (or otherwise) process of exchanging and adapting environmental practices and standards in the built environment. Using the specific case of the design of environmentally sound buildings, the book identifies a number of issues from different perspectives:

  • The conflict between regionally appropriate environmental building practices within a global technical and economic context.

  • How human, social and cultural expectations limit technological advances and performance improvements.

  • To what extent information on environmentally progressive buildings can be transferred across cultures without compromising regional and local practices.

  • Which ideas travel successfully between regions – generic principles, specific ideas or specific solutions?
How the idea of regional identity is being redefined as the process of globalisation both widens and accelerates.
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Table of Contents



1. Introduction: Knowledge, Values and Building Design (Raymond J. Cole and Richard Lorch).


2. Section Introduction: Understanding Context (Ian Cooper).

3. Globalisation - Entangled Places, Interface Buildings, Generic Design (Rob Shields).

4. Trading Places - Sharing Knowledge About Environmental Building Techniques (David M. Gann).

5. Green Buildings - Reconciling Technological Change and Occupant Expectations (Raymond J. Cole).

6. Cultural Issues for a Sustainable Built Environment (Niklaus Kohler).

7. Section Commentary: What is the Problem (Ian Cooper).


8. Section Introduction: Understanding Expectations (Nick V. Baker).

9. The Role of the Client in Shaping the Satisfactory Outcome of the Construction Process (George Seaden).

10. User Needs and Expectations (Adrian Leaman).

11. Historical and Cultural Influences on Comfort Expectations (Gail S. Brager and Richard J. de Dear).

12. BEQUEST - An International Cross-Cultural Cooperation and Information Exchange (Steve Curwell).

13. Section Commentary: Reconciling Expectations (Nick V. Baker).


14. Section Introduction: Understanding Process (Jeffrey Cook).

15. Technology Transfer - A Vernacular View (Paul Oliver).

16. Social and Organisational Understanding of Stakeholder Interests (Pascale Michaud).

17. Contemporary Chinese Architectural and Planning Practice - Aspirations and Challenges (Joe Carter).

18. A Bio-Regional Approach to Environmental Building - A Case Study of the KST House (David H. Cohen, Akira Yamaguchi and John D. Spengler).

19. Cultural Aspects of Environmental Housing in Japan (Kazuo Iwamura).

20. Section Commentary: Understanding Delivery Processes (Jeffrey Cook).


21. Afterword: Towards a New Social Contract (Steve Curwell).


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Author Information

Raymond J. Cole is Professor of Architecture at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Richard Lorch is an architect and editor of the international journal, Building Research and Information.

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The Wiley Advantage

* focuses on key issues in technology transfer for both practice and research
* shows how building knowledge is being exchanged across cultures
* defines the tools needed for exchanging and applying global information
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'It represents a critical step on the long road towards a sustainable society by opening a dialogue on the disconnections that prevent international green building research from connecting meaningfully with local conditions.'

BRI August 2004.

'The contributions to the book act as inspiration and stimulus by reminding us of the critical importance of of the cultural embodiment of architecture. and by setting an agenda for future research, education and practice.'

BRI August 2004.

'This book suggests a positive path foward to form a framework and critically engage with local culture and social expectations into solutions for the built environment. It should be read by everyone interested in the built environment, technology and information transfer.'

Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 16 issue 1, 2004.

'The readings are dense and informative, and should be useful in broadening discourse on sustainability to include culture as indispensable component of project success' Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review Spring 2005

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