A Post-industrial Paradigm for Sustainable Architecture Via an Open System Model

A Post-industrial Paradigm for Sustainable Architecture Via an Open System Model

Y. Gu

Victoria Research Laboratory, National Information and Communication Technology Australia (NICTA), Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

30 March 2012
| Citation



This paper critically analyses the unsustainable industrial pattern pervasive in modern architecture. From an environmental perspective, the aesthetic features of modern architecture range from environmentally de-contextual to environmentally irresponsible. In response to the imperatives of sustainable design in the built environment, the author explores a new paradigm via a model of open systems evolution, which is offered as a new paradigm for sustainable architecture. It reflects the worldview of post-modernism whereby the creativity and complexity of the universe is self-organised achieving the emergence of order out of chaos. Underpinned by evolutionary thermodynamics and complex systems science, a model of open systems evolution consists of mechanisms such as open systems adapting to a host environment via natural gradients to optimize resource distribution and minimize entropy production in the host environment. Following this model, the author proposes a conceptual framework for sustainable architecture that describes the ecological interactions of buildings with their natural environment in open thermodynamic terms, with active involvement of end-users in micro-climate control. These multiple communications between buildings, nature and end-users obey the laws of open systems evolution, in order to optimize the environmental performance of buildings while meeting the functional needs of end users, resulting in a sustainable symbiosis of architecture and nature.


ecological architecture, evolution, the industrial pattern, intelligent design, open systems model, order, the post-industrial pattern, self-organisation, sustainable design


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