One of the tragedies of design in the last 50 years has the homogenization, the sameness, wherever you go around the world. Houses look the same, office buildings look the same; when in fact climate and social conditions differ radically. What let them be all the same was cheap energy: add more air conditioning here, more heat there. You couldn't have an "International Style" without it.
Green builder and Inhabitat contributor Andrew Michler believes that to build sustainably, you have to go hyperlocal. He's writing a book about it: [ours]: Hyperlocalization of Sustainable Architecture, and is down to the wire on a Kickstarter campaign (only four days left) to raise money for travel and research. He gives examples of the kind of hyperlocal responses to sustainability that the book will cover:
[Australia Unfolds] to boldly explore how design practices inform a contemporary sense of place and provide solutions to complex issues in an environment of extremes.
Andrew uses Casey Brown's Permanent Camping as an example of how one responds in a hot climate: Big shutters that act as shading devices when pulled up, made of metal for a little wildfire protection.
[Japan Condenses] some of the most innovative interior design in the world with space constrained design vernaculars leading to extraordinary solutions for urban living.
Here, the approach to sustainability is to go small, in a society where space is at a premium (and the lots are tiny to start with).
The difference between the two projects shown here goes beyond local climactic conditions; it is hyperlocal, affected by social conditions and expectations. Andrew writes:
Rather than put great cutting edge building projects in isolation we want to look both inward at how they work and came to be, and outward at how environmentally astute architecture is informed by and can redefine the society they are placed in.
Also on the team producing the book are Katharine Leigh and Tara Steckly of the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University, and it's published by Evolo. I'm going to kick a few bucks into Kickstarter and hope you will too.