I’ve had the idea in the back of my mind for a couple of years now that I would like to win a Fulbright to study sustainable architecture in the Netherlands. I’ve been kicking it around and mentioning it casually for a long time now …and I think the time is right. The application deadline is in October, which means being a great deal more concrete about the whole thing than I am right now … and very quickly too. So I’ve been spending my coffee shop internet time the last month or so surfing, reading accounts of other students in the Fulbright process, papers on sustainable design, little articles on current events in Dutch and trying to sort it all out in my head. I’m going to start using this blog for its original purpose again – a place to siphon off some of the ideas that are rattling around, making it hard to think. Last night I sat down and typed up the long rambling version below the fold and this morning I distilled it into the following three two graphs.
Here’s what I’m thinking right now:
I am fundamentally interested in why the Dutch are so much further advanced in their process of creating sustainable, livable buildings. [For the moment we’ll take it as read that they are and I’ll back it up later.] There are any number of reasons ranging from geography and the financial system to the socio-cultural but one of the most obvious and concrete is that in the Netherlands they legislate for sustainability and in America we have a legal building code which often prevents environmental innovation.
So my interest, really, lies in the way the Dutch have used legislation to aid their progress in forwarding sustainable design. Here’s why I think this is a good Fulbright proposal subject: It’s concrete; it requires academic research that needs to be done on site; I can tie it into culture as much as I choose to; and best of all it is applicable to the united states within a fairly quick timescale. Due to the way our building codes are administered on a local basis so I could go into this with the goal of teasing out concrete concepts that can be applied to one (or many) local building codes to improve municipal sustainability.
If anyone has any thoughts on this I’d love to get some input. If you want to get the long rambly version of what I’ve been thinking about all this, read below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »