“The design studio with its basic traditional approaches serves as the backbone of the architectural pedagogy”.

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The two distinct domains of the architecture curriculum are the “profession and the discipline” (Andrzej Piotrowski,2001). But, the professionalized instructions which serve an approach to fulfill the theoretical, aesthetics, and functional aspect of design (leaving behind the environmental consideration), are being formalized more than a century ago. The environmental approach in traditional practices is missing, and less importance is given to the outside world thereby cultivating a false sense of practice by providing inadequate training for the trained world. The sustainability aspect is not such which could work by being an elective approach only.

The need is thus for such a design-studio method that prepares the students for the outside world, addressing its sensitivity based on “three-tier systems” of sustainable architecture (being, the social, economic, and environmental sustainability).

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The state of 'Sustainable Architecture' in the Architectural education system - Sheet1
Triple bottom line of Sustainable Architecture ©Policy


The traditional architecture theory in practice today is essentially not related to the domain of environmental behavioral research theory, being substantive rather than being procedural (Ashraf M. Salama, 2015). The institutionalized method of architectural education promotes subjectivity over collaborative processes and community-based learning (Ashraf M. Salama, 2015).

The collaboration of the individual creativity with the collective service implies to the need for the “participatory design approaches” or “the Public Interest Design” methods, maintaining the balance between the creativity, service and the pragmatics with engaging the broad range of the social, economic and environmental needs, addressing the sustainable architecture aspects.

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Public Interest Design seeks to broaden access to the benefits of design to all the general public (David hill,2019).

It places emphasis on the “triple bottom line” of sustainable design that includes environmental, economic, and social challenges across the world. It is an approach to build the environment as an instrumental force for social, economic, and environmental justice. Public Interest Design connects the design education and professional practice with the skills, to address global issues (David Hill,2019).

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The processes involved in the P.I.D. are discussed below-

Diagram showing the processes of Public Interest Design method ©Nooreen Afza

1. Subjective study

Step in which the students are asked to get in knowledge about the real-time issues prevailing in the nearby context and to present some of the all gathered issues which they would like to work upon or which they want to tackle. This step helps in identifying the real-time issues which need the eradication. The practical approach of gathering real problems helps to broaden up the mind.

2. Collecting information

The selected project needs to be justified in terms of real-time problems. For the same, the issues are being identified at a wider scale by practically visiting the site and collecting the primary information, either by having the basic conversation with the people or by observing the things that exist on the site and how they are being interrelated to one another and operating.

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3. Surveying

Interacting formally with the people involved directly or indirectly in the selected project forms the foundation by involving the stakeholders at every step. The methods to interact are prepared beforehand based on the issues that were identified in the earlier steps and are then executed. This step demands the collection of all the identified issues at one stack for the further proceedings.

4. Design intervention

The issues are identified based on the results of the survey that was done and the chart for the issues, solutions and the justification is prepared in context to the social, economic, and infrastructure point of view. Based on the data the interventions are being planned.

5. Costing

The interventions planned and proposed are worked out along with the costing of all the resources that are going to be occupied and consumed during the process. The process thus follows the practical approach to judge the feasibility extent of the proposed intervention. After achieving economic sustainability, the execution part comes next.

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6. Execution

The ideas are executed on the site with the involvement of the users involved directly or indirectly in the project. The use of the resources is worked out strategically based on the availability and other economic measures. The ideas and working of the people present on the site are incorporated in order to achieve maximum stability in terms of social and economical aspects.

7. Management

It implies the stage of dealing with the executed things on the site after the interventions. It involves the post-responsibilities of the stakeholders to manage the things with the proper intervention plans and all the pre-evaluated parameters.

When it comes to the participatory design approaches, be it the public interest design method, the processes involved in the same cultivates the co-existence of the behavioral approaches of the public and the sustainability concern, involved in each stage resulting-out in the design outcome addressing the three pillars of the sustainable environment. Thus, being the need of the present scenario. While the lack of social context in the traditional design practices in architecture pedagogy results in the lack of concern in environmental sustainability aspects. So, students at the institutional level must be taught about following the multi-disciplinary approach of sustainable architecture, with the environmental concern in context to the socio-economic aspect. Real-life issues must be incorporated in the design brief to have a practical approach to eliminate the habit of compromising on the basic technicalities faced during the projects. The aspect of sustainability should properly be taken care of. The proposed design should fulfill the stability aspects in terms of the materials used, ideas incorporated, etc. Collaborative approaches provide the practical solution for utilizing the effective principles of sustainable development on both the environmental and architectural aspects.

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Through Public Interest Design, a designer can learn the current experiences along with the ideal approaches. Public Interest Design, thus trains the students about how to generate a completely sustained product out of all the processes involved.


NOOREEN AFZA is a student of Bachelors in architecture who aspires to be privileged enough to influence the millions of minds out there, positively. She loves architecture as much as she respects the words winding-up its whole essence together. Her character is defined by being bold and influential through her writings. 

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022