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Hybrid environments: the spaces of sustainable design

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Farmer and Guy argue that despite the apparent consensus around key environmental issues it often seems less clear what factors might define or constitute a green building. They highlight some of the limitations of performance-based and ideological interpretations of sustainable architecture by exploring three recent building developments in the north east of England. Each of the three buildings they examine represents a situated design response to three very particular physical and development contexts. Similarly, each embodies a range of environmental innovations that make distinctive contributions to the development of more sustainable futures. Farmer and Guy suggest, that although these alternative technical strategies can be partially understood to conform to contrasting green values, they do not emerge simply from any preconceived definition of 'greenness'. Instead they are shaped through a merging of distinctive philosophies of green design, embedded in particular social and physical contexts. These diverse design strategies can therefore be understood to represent competing pathways towards sustainability. From this perspective, they argue, we can begin to view individual buildings as complex hybrids - situationally specific responses to the challenges of sustainability shaped by the widely differing motivations and competing social commitments of the actors involved in particular design and development processes.