CONTRIBUTION OF ECOLOGICAL DESIGN TO CRITICAL REGIONALISM: ANALYSING SUSTAINABILITY EFFECTIVENESS IN VERNACULAR URBAN BUILDING
Environmentalism as the overall concept of ecological architecture is defined as the inter-relations between people, and how built forms affect the surroundings through design, reflecting the impact of technology, human principles of living with nature, and of social connections in communities. Modern ecological designs have smart solutions in planning climatic zones, with optimised natural lighting to lower energy use, and reduce wastage. Passive thermal comfort methods and spatial alignment of buildings to sun orientation have brought the ideals of organic architecture full circle since the “sparse and scarce” principles of technological design limitations guided vernacular urbanism over time. Today’s modern buildings, abstracted from mass-produced designs, are shaped to trends and tastes, bringing attention to the artificial materiality of architectural forms and the hidden costs of innovations. To understand the relevance of sustainable strategies in developing critical regionalism, this paper reviews the scope of ecological architecture principles application for temperate climates, and examines the viability of strategies as passive cooling, thermal comfort and greenery-based ventilation. Through case study discussions of two Malaysian eco-architectural designers, Ken Yeang and Kevin Mark Low, it will also be argued that the spirit of nationalism and cultural regionalism can be integrated effectively into urban built forms.