Sustainable By Design

Confronting the Challenges of Sustainable Architectural Design within a Conventional Project Cycle Context.

What is Sustainable By Design about?

Posted by Duanne on June 22, 2009

Firstly,  welcome you to Sustainable by Design!!!!

My name is Duanne Render, and I am a Masters in Architecture (Professional) student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Currently I am halfway through my Thesis of the title “Sustainable by Design”.

I have set up this Blog to serve the dual purpose of serving as a base for project feedback and interaction and secondly, to hopefully get people interested in the field of Sustainable Architectural Design and also to show that it is not as daunting as many may believe.

Ok, to get the ball rolling, here is the Abstract (summary) of my Thesis document in it’s current state (DRAFT) . This will possibly change as the process continues and as the document evolves.

“The increasingly rapid breakdown in natural systems that humankind is currently witness to has brought home the urgent need for a new approach to society. Modern technologies born of the Industrial and Information Ages have brought prosperity undreamt of by previous civilisations, but it is rapidly becoming clear that this prosperity may have come at too high a cost.

This work will explore the issue of sustainability within the framework of architecture and the built environment, and attempt to identify a new paradigm for architectural design whereby built-environment professionals are able to ensure the consistent realization of sustainable architecture.

The first part of the thesis will address the origins of and need for sustainability, and explore it within the context of architecture and the built environment. This will be followed by a critical investigation into conventional design practice and the emerging alternative – integrated design practice, and how suitable each of these design practices are for the task of ensuring sustainability.

The second part of the thesis will detail a practical implementation of the conclusions reached in section one, investigating sustainable design in architecture using a “Design-Based Research” approach.”

If this sounds interesting to you, please feel free to download a draft copy of the full document here. Please note: This is a work in progress, so please do not cite it. When the process comes to an end, I will make the final version available.

Note:  Most recent posts are displayed at the top of this page.

If you are looking for the short version, have a look at the following posts – they give the just of the design.

Site and Programme

The Final Concept

Struggles with Structure episode 2



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Final document

Posted by Duanne on October 21, 2009

So, the thesis has almost come to an end… only the final presentation to go in three weeks!

Please go ahead and have a look at my final document:

Sustainable by Design title

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The Design

Posted by Duanne on October 5, 2009

Ive been pretty bad at posting the last month! I apologise prefusely! So here are a few images of the building as it stands at the mo!

Ill do all the proper posts in the next week or so!

Please click the images for larger views

Slide95North East Arial view

Slide96South West Arial View

Slide97Office Sky-Garden

Slide98Bus stop

Slide99View across green public square

Slide100Green Public Square

Slide101Green Public Square + pvt balconies to the left

Slide102Residential Sky gardens

Slide103Residential Sky gardens

Slide104Hard public square

Slide105The MONEY shot!

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Composing the Elevation

Posted by Duanne on September 4, 2009

Now that the general planning has been done, Ive moved back to the appearance of the building in elevation. The three principal elvations below shows my thinking. I try to express the “hanging” nature of the structure through the disconnection of the upper floors and the ground & first floors. The “sky-garden cut-outs have also now got a definite size, so i can start adding terraced platforms in order to form different activity/gathering spaces – hope that makes sense!


North East Elevation


East Elevation


South Elevation

Next up is to get the planning finalised while keeping my “erosion” idea in the forefront of my mind so that the sky gardens gan be “linked” effectively.

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And the planning commences

Posted by Duanne on August 26, 2009

Sooooo, im on to planning seeing as i know now that my building can stand and not collapse at the first sign of occupation.

These are my first drawings of the ground floor plan and an upper floor plan.

Click the images for a larger view.


Ground floor plan looking a the retail, gym, creche, bus stop, and vertical circulation.


Upper floor exploring the different types of units as well as how these units can be flexible to accomodate the “facade erosion” as mentioned in the “struggles with structure” post. Also the winter garden is shown which will occur at every fourth level.

Ok, now to get this building modeled accurately to see if my sketches even work!!

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Struggles with Structure Episode 3

Posted by Duanne on August 21, 2009

So… I had a chat to Bryan and he said it 99% there!!! Also, on top of that he says it will be very efficient because the majority of the structure can be hanged from the cantilever structures (the triangles) which puts the supporting structure in tension and therefore makes it possible to use much mess material and therefore keep the embodied energy of the building down!! After that sentence let me take a breath…

On to the planning!! Finally!!

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