Ecological design: Promises and challenges

Environmental Ethics 24 (3):243-261 (2002)
Abstract
In recent decades, designers, architects, and landscape architects concerned with their contribution to today’s ecological problems started formulating a new way of designing and creating artifacts. Called “ecological design” and promoted as a corrective alternative to conventional practice, its basic tenet is to draw from nature a guidance for design, rather than imposing our design on nature. This newapproach signifies a welcome change, first by calling attention to the ecological implications of artifacts, a subject matter generally neglected in environmental ethics, and, second, by providing useful, specific suggestions regarding the ecologically responsible way of designing artifacts. However, the conceptual basis and resultant implications of ecological design deserve and need critical analyses. I argue that the basic premise of ecological design—that nature should act as the authority—is problematic by examining analogous strategies from social, political, moral, and aesthetic realms, as well as by exploring its specific application in the promotion of “native” plants in gardens. I end with another issue often neglected in the practice of ecological design: our aesthetic response to the created objects
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