We don’t know if the 2020 acquired architecture strategies will stick when the ecosystem bounces back. But architecture has its task cut out to shape up and align itself with the world better than it does today. 2020 has normalized a crisis like never before ensuring that architects will forever be on their toes, with designs constantly evolving to become more comprehensive and robust, keeping in mind flexibility and impact on health and environment. That is designs beyond the present-day sustainable architecture approach.
Here is a review of the TedTalk: Beyond Sustainable Architecture by Davis Richardson.  

Present-day Relevance of the Talk

Covid-19 didn’t just strike at the core of our lives in 2020, it hit at the heart of the building industry as well. Whether in theme, scale, or technique, the coronavirus was all-pervasive in architecture, design, and travel. While tourism closed, ideas did not as designers began restyling restaurants, office spaces, furniture, and homes. Architecture has always captured history, the pandemic being a huge one. With establishments being shut for most of 2020 and sales dwindling, architectural and tourist destinations adapted to the moment and explored the digital space hosting virtual tours. 

Discussions around industry 4.0 and greener technology, social responsibility, sustainability, and climate change have been ubiquitous in 2020 and we are sure to see far more application in 2021. Architecture that blends socio-political subjects in its approach will be sought after as these are seen as essential for economic revival. 

The Outline

Climate change and energy shortage are monoliths, transcending several generations and civilizations. These are inhuman and ever-present problems, and tackling them holistically remains a demanding task. In his lecture, Davis Richardson talks about an interesting approach towards construction, where structures are built to be just as dynamic and boundless as the problems we face. 

By putting ourselves in situations that are shockingly different from the status quo of environmentalism, reassessing, and asking questions, we can inspire a whole new wave of eco-activism and combat humanity’s obstacles into the future. 

About the Speaker

Davis Richardson is a Bartlett Cocke Scholar and a Masters Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA). He also holds a Bachelors in Interior Design from Harding University. Davis is the Editor for Essays and Interviews with UTSOA’s student publication. ISSUE. He works as a designer at THOUGHTBARN, an architectural design studio based in Austin, and has also contributed several articles for PLAT, an architecture journal from Rice University, and CritDay, an architecture-student feed. 

Davis also has a book out, called Going Tiny. He has contributed immensely to the field of architecture, affordable housing, and sustainability. He is an eminent speaker and has been featured in several podcasts, lectures, and conferences. He rose to fame with his TED Talk: Beyond Sustainable Architecture and has inspired many through his lectures at world-renowned venues including the SXSW, Mensa, and the American Institute of Architecture Students. 

Following the success of the Tiny House on Wheels, which he built himself soon after completing his bachelor’s in Interior Design, in 2016, he became well-known in the architecture community. 

TedTalk for Architects: Beyond Sustainable Architecture by Davis Richardson
Davis Richardson Image Source: ©https://thearchiologist.com

On the TED Talk’s stage, Davis Richardson spoke about the rewarding experience of living in a home he built by himself and also how it helped him towards a deeper understanding of the field of architecture and design. Davis also talks about micro-living and minimalization, he points out that he does not agree with the idea that less is more, he believes that more is more! 

In his talk, he uses the word ‘hyper objects’ to refer to vast problems like climate change and energy scarcity, he talks about its significance in green engineering and sustainability evaluation, about how humans are yet to fully grasp this issue. Davis also speaks about the future of architecture, how it would look and feel like and illustrates this with simple examples. 

Davis talks about engineered timber as a construction material, its advancements, and its importance in the building industry. He concludes the talk with an interesting explanation of aesthetics. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format and was independently organized by the local community. 

Key Takeaways From The Talk

Sustainable architecture, eco-friendly building methods, greener manufacturing strategies, flexible building spaces, healthier spaces, green-open spaces, basically just every kind of ‘going green’ is in high demand and this is the best time to build a career in the “new normal” of architecture and sustainability, and Davis Richardson’s Ted presentation is certainly the best inspiration architecture aspirants and sustainability enthusiasts can get. 

In this engaging brief conversation, Davis talks about his background in architecture and design and how this has helped him to expand his knowledge and skills as a designer. He touches upon form and function, and hyper objects, and how they can challenge the present-day status quo of sustainability. Davis also gives his insights and advice for sustainability enthusiasts.


Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.

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