Loughborough University
Thesis-2017-Grinnell.pdf (9.77 MB)

Recipes for low carbon, adaptable design

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posted on 2017-06-20, 15:04 authored by Rachael C. Grinnell
The thesis contributes a more lucid understanding of the potential for interaction amongst different facets of sustainability in the context of building design, providing evidence that the assimilation of diverse and often seemingly unconnected aspects of sustainability is not the unassuming process implicit in the current sustainability discourse. Working inductively and with a focus on two sustainable principles (the current UK government sponsored sustainability agenda, low carbon design, and an alternative interpretation, adaptable design, whose literature is framed in a sometimes complementary, at others antagonistic fashion to the former), this thesis develops an understanding of interaction in building design processes, using publically available documentary evidence and a comparative case-study approach. The thesis describes and categorises instances of interaction arising in the twenty-three case study building design processes, demonstrating both the empirical existence of interaction and improving the theoretical conceptualisation beyond basic ideas of synergy and conflict. Interaction is noted as arising from both technical incompatibilities and project actors interpretation of the agendas themselves: a socio-technical issue. The thesis distinguishes multiple approaches adopted by design teams to managing the entanglement encountered. Interpreting these interaction strategies in their case context, factors driving the selection of a particular approach are inductively derived and combined to form a tentative conceptual framework. This framework aides a systematic comparison across project cases, facilitated by the crisp set qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA) technique. Projects are described as configurations of the identified conditions and, by operationalizing interaction in a manner consistent with case study observation and the existing literatures of adaptable and low carbon design, assessed for successfulness in reconciling the agendas. The technique identifies three causal pathways to successful reconciliations of adaptable and low carbon design. Finally, the thesis makes a methodological contribution, through an evaluation of the application of QCA to a novel problem space (socio-technical, project-orientated problems of the built environment). Through the richness of documentary data obtained for study, it also demonstrates the potential effectiveness of documents as primary sources in the field of building design, where they are often relegated to a supporting role.





  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Rachael Grinnell

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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