My Three R’s of Design: Responsive, Responsible, Regenerative
Environmentalists promote their cause using the three R’s: ‘Reduce, Recycle, Reuse’. Awareness about wasteful and toxic production has increased manifold and therefore consumers too are demanding greener solutions. In my understanding of Design, the same three R’s may be given slightly different associations. For instance; ‘Responsive, Responsible, Regenerative’ – could encapsulate the entire fundamental of designing for a sustainable future.
Responsive is what all design needs to be. Design that responds to the site, the brief, the culture, the climate and the context – has an inbuilt positivity. Responsiveness eliminates subjectivity. To develop a design solution appropriate to the problem takes away the need for embellishment. The design works – and works well – because it addresses the core issues. Form becomes secondary to Function.
Responsible – is design that serves its function and purpose; without causing damage to the planet – which in turn means the main three R’s – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse – have to be followed in any case. One needs to assess the importance of the impact of buildings, processes and products; and understand that responsibility extends well beyond the time the product is used. Therefore responsibility starts at the stage of creation of the building, product or process – in terms of the biodegradability of the materials used. The creation also needs to be justified. Does it fulfill a need, is it durable, does it pollute the environment, is it energy efficient, does it use minimum material? One must also inspect other aspects such as: is the styling going to date too quickly, can the product be upgraded easily, can components be reused and recycled in the new version?
Regenerative design is a process-oriented systems theory-based approach to design. The term "regenerative" describes processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials, creating sustainable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature. Regenerative design is the biomimicry of ecosystems that seeks to create a holistic framework or model for waste-free systems; applicable to all human habitats – rooms, buildings, or urban plans.
In a manner of speaking, regenerative and sustainable are essentially the same. But while sustainable development aims to satisfy present needs without compromising the possibility of future generations to satisfy theirs, regenerative design aims to redevelop and reinstate lost systems. Simply put, regenerative systems make the world better than the one we inherited. A truly regenerative product would not only be 100% recycled and recyclable, but it would also improve the environmental conditions at the unit of its manufacture, the place of its usage and so on throughout its life-cycle and would not have any toxic effects even in its afterlife.
Therefore ‘Responsive, Responsible and Regenerative’ – are my new three R’s of Design!