Transitional Spaces: Reconciling Conflicts in Dense Sustainable Housing Projects


Density strategies are generally perceived as a powerful leverage for sustainable built environments. Reality unveils however a more nuanced appreciation. While the �Prosperity� pillar of sustainable development is mostly covered, dense building developments tend to lack addressing �here and now� social and environmental aspects of sustainability, which could mortgage the recognition of the embedded sustainability value and benefits that such projects offer. Design research on European demonstration and best practice sustainable dense housing projects uncovered �transitional spaces� as a possible outlook. This paper verifies the feasibility of �transitional spaces� as a reconciler for conflicts regarding sustainability in dense housing projects. First, based on theoretical insights, classifications on density and morphological housing models are defined. Second, the problem statement is underlined by determining conflicts between features of the classifications and components of social and environmental sustainability. Third, backed by a literature study, �transitional spaces� as a hypothesis is documented by real-life European projects. Finally, design research and research by design is applied to explore, unveil and develop sustainable concepts for �transitional spaces� within different dense housing models. It is concluded that due to intrinsic features and related consequences, dense building strategies contain besides perceived advantages, also barriers for achieving sustainable built environments. The implementation, activation and full deployment of �transitional spaces� is promising in delivering full sustainable successes in dense housing projects. Suitable sustainable concepts for this (re)solution space likely result in beneficial synergies leading to a broader base for both density strategies and sustainable development.

Author Information
Bart Janssens, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2014
Stream: Social Sustainability & Sustainable Living

This paper is part of the ECSEE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon