Teaching Green Architecture
by Tony Brown
Take 15 outstanding architecture students, put them in the wilderness for four days, make them create their own shelter and find their own food and what do you get? Sustainable architects.
This is our goal at the Ecosa Institute, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to incorporating sustainability into the design professions. The institute runs in-depth, total-immersion semesters for architecture, planning, landscape, and other design students.
As one element in an intensive sixteen-week semester, this first experience in the wilderness is intended to bring to designers a direct awareness of the natural environment and an understanding of what baseline sustainability really is.
But this is only one small part of the program. We call it a total-immersion program because we go full out for 16 weeks and expose our students to a huge volume of information and experiences.
Why Sustainability is Essential
The institute's educational philosophy is based on what I've learned in my own practice, which I've dedicated for the last 25 years to sustainable design and architecture. It all began in 1970 when I moved to Arizona to join Paolo Soleri's Cosanti Foundation and work on the Arcosanti project.
It was the right place at the right time for me. Soleri opened my eyes to the environment and to the real reasons we are facing serious problems. I began to understand the huge impact architects and designers make and to see that they could also provide the solutions.