MITCHELL CAIRNS-SPICER, MArch

Beyond Building: Designing Sustainability for Humans


Advancements in building design and technology have greatly lessened the environmental impact of cities and homes—however architecture encompasses much more than building performance. Contemporary sustainable design removes the burden of behaving in a sustainable manner from the occupant and hides it behind high efficiency equipment and passive design strategies. This approach to design makes up for irresponsible human behavior, it mitigates the outcome of a behavioral problem. This Master of Architecture thesis explores how architecture may be able to step beyond autonomous efficiency and better engage its occupants with their environmental impact and the resources they consume. It demonstrates how architecture can bring legibility to systems of resource consumption that are currently obfuscated from building occupants and ultimately advocate a mode of use in servitude of sustainable goals.

This thesis focused on bringing legibility to systems otherwise obfuscated from building occupants. When it comes to water consumption, there is very little that is actually revealed in a typical home. This design explores how implementing large water tanks, one for fresh water and one for grey water, can provide occupants with consumption feedback, a concept proven to influence and improve human behavior related to resource use.



Contemporary sustainable design removes the burden of behaving in a sustainable manner from the occupant and hides it behind high efficiency equipment and passive design strategies.



Ryerson Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.