The complex history of sustainability

After all is said and done, a lot has been said about sustainability. Almost every single designer claims to be "sustainable" - even though it doesn't extend beyond the "green" image in many pieces of architecture. Exactly the complex matter of sustainability, the many face it entails, the rich history of ideologies - this all seems to be swept away in a storm of sexy wind turbines, spectacular photovoltaic cells and a strategically placed comment about the cradle to cradle principles inherent in the design process.

But there's so much more than this contemporary - relatively superficial - approach to sustainability. This inspired Amir Djalali, with Piet Vollaard, to compile "The complex history of sustainability". Originally, it was intended for a publication in "Volume #18 - After Zero" only, but the timeline has been transformed into an interactive website, based on a mash-up of the google earth software by CASA.

On this web-interface, on can browse through the history of sustainability. Sure, one might doubt some of the -isms as used. And the selective nature of the people captured in this timeline. And the speculative connections between peoples and issues.
But all in all, it gives a nice insight in the complexities and contradictions within the single term "sustainability". From the 18th century romantics, the eco-anarchists and the global warming denialists to bio-mimicry, cybernetics and nazi eugenetics, all is portrayed in this timeline. Linked to the key figures on every stage. As a nice bonus, books, movies, games and architectural projects are added on the time-line.
It might not all be 100% accurate and complete, but at least it doesn't simplify the true meaning(s) of sustainability.

No comments: