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On Survivalism and Autonomy in the Built Environment

Architecture professor William W. Braham examines the growing trend of "self-powered", "zero-energy" and "zero waste" buildings through the lens of survivalism.

"In an important sense environmental design these days can be seen as the scaling-up of survivalism - as moving beyond the purchase of a backup generator, some tanks of water, or a photovoltaic panel to the conceptualization and design of autonomous, self-powered buildings. All of which raise critical questions. First: how independent can a household (or building or business) really be? And second: to what degree is environmental design just another form of disaster-preparedness, dedicated only to matters of survival? Or can it offer something different? To answer these questions we need to probe the kind of independence offered by self-powered buildings, which in turn leads to larger questions about scarcity and the competition for resources."

In this discussion of survivalism, Braham wonders whether autonomous buildings are really a goal worth aiming for.

Full Story: The Temptations of Survivalism, or, What do you do with your waste?

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