Integral Theory as a Holistic Analysis Framework for Sustainable Design

Presented by: Saglinda Roberts

Theory: Expanding the goals and directives of the design profession through the use of an Integral Theory based analysis methodology will enable the creation of more holistic sustainable design solutions, which in turn will effect wellbeing, increase energy efficiency, support cultural connections, and restore the eco-system. Framework: Integral Theory is a holistic, integral analysis process which identifies the deeper issues within design questions, allowing a synthesis of the dynamic goals of aesthetics, function, sustainability, systematic functioning, and cultural connections. Integral Theory states that all human understanding and perception can be broadly categorized into four main area: Experience or Beauty, Behavioral or Function, Cultural Connections, and Systems or Ecological Perspectives. Integrating this holistic analysis at the beginning of the design process creates a in-depth and holistic understanding of the client, occupant, societal, ecological and cultural needs before initial design process begins. To explore the validity, applicability, and feasibility of applying integral theory to a sustainable design project, Integral Theory as applied by Mark DeKay in his book "Integral Sustainable Design" was used as a basis for the design of a single family residential project within a historic district of Philadelphia, PA. A brief outline of the research and guiding principles used to transfer the abstract ideologies of DeKay's "Integral Sustainable Design" into a physical design will be highlighted. This presentation will explore the validity of the process through the creation of four designs, each focusing exclusively on one of DeKay's four quadrants: Experience or Beauty, Behavioral or Function, Cultural Connections, and Systems or Ecological Perspective. To complete the process, a fifth design was then created which considered the requirements of all four quadrants simultaneously. In addition this presentation will discuss how Integral Theory could be integrated into a studio or professional setting. Conclusions: By including an Integral Theory based analysis method the resulting designs show aesthetic, functional, cultural, and ecological improvements within the design process. Feedback from students and professionals using this process show: a better understanding of the project type; satisfaction with design solution; changed view and approach to design; and a broader scope of focus toward future projects. If design directives are expanded to include all levels of human perception then design solutions will be able to address social equity issues, the health safety and welfare of occupants, and experiential in more meaningful ways.


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