Design & Environment: An intensive, interdisciplinary, and output-oriented workshop

Theme Format Schedule Registration Open Keynotes Travel & Accommodation

Design & Environment
An intensive, interdisciplinary, and output-oriented workshop

University of Leeds Design & Environment
Wednesday 28 February & Thursday 1 March 2018
3 to 5 page essay deadline: 12 January 2018
For queries and special interest please contact

With open keynotes by Wendy Gunn (Senior Research Fellow at the Research[x]Design Research Group, Department of Architecture, KU Leuven) and Clare Rishbeth (Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Department of Landscape, The University of Sheffield)


This two-day workshop seeks to critically rethink how design and environment inform each other. Architects, designers, and environmental scholars from a range of disciplines are committed to sustainability. However, the relationships between these fields of inquiry and production are not self-evident. How are design and environment intertwined, or when does environment become design and vice versa?

It has long been recognised that spatial planning and design are not just matters of aesthetics or convenience, but can have major consequences for how an environment functions in social terms. The examples of destructive socio-spatial segregation are ample, as are those of fragmented ecosystems. The workshop invites reflections on the troubled relationship between design and environment beyond conventional “Design for the Environment” (DfE) frameworks (focussing on the environmental impact of products or processes) and seeks to defy the idea that design altruistically works ‘for the betterment of all’. Acknowledging instead the normativity and embeddedness of design in power structures, can serve to expose the intentionality of environmental changes. In turn, environmental changes, as well as contemporary understandings of the socio-material configuration of space, can produce surprising understandings of how design processes work and allow for more inclusive, and perhaps empowering conceptualisations of design. The emerging field of design anthropology in particular has been “concerned with how people perceive, create, and transform their environments through their everyday activities” [1], thus developing a broad conceptualisation of design as a way of making the world.

Where do (studies of) design and environment meet, and what kinds of understandings does this offer? What are the pitfalls and challenges this encounter brings forward? How do the temporalities and materialities of design and environment align or clash in working towards a sustainable future?


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