Sustainable design and construction require holistic thinking across a wide variety of topics and fields: Socio-cultural, economic, ecological, functional and aesthetic, local as well as global factors must be considered and understood as equivalent and interacting with one another. This complexity makes it impossible to convey simplified recipes and answers, or suggest generally valid applications. Sustainable design and construction are rather the result of an unbiased, critical perspective and, consequently, a personal attitude towards the task – based on empirical values from one’s own experimental activities and a comparatively broad foundational knowledge base on topics of sustainability.
Supported generously by the inaugural Kuan and Wu Research Fund for Innovation and Sustainability, The Circular Construction Lab sets out to compile such a knowledge base for the students (and faculty) of Cornell AAP and the Department of Architecture. Focusing on 10 Aspects of Sustainable Design and Construction, the compilation will cover the current debate and state of the art methods and technologies, as well as a set of explanatory precedents for each of the chosen themes. It will further include projects and proposal that question the current understanding and provide an overview of alternative approaches towards sustainability. A proposed first set of aspects for this research are: extraction; cultivation; recycling and reuse; energy; water; land and ownership; capital and business; digitalization and data; technology and fabrication; society, culture and participation. In the combination and juxtaposition of these aspects, the knowledge base aims to make visible new and sometimes unexpected combinations a oundation for a holistic debate on sustainability in architecture.