Exploring Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Sustainability. How Cultural and Social Factors Inform a Sustainable Redesign of Whitmore Park (Annapolis, MD).
Walker, Elisabeth Jane
Chanse, Dr. Victoria
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Even though sustainability is defined by four parameters - ecological, economic, social and cultural, sustainable design is essentially reduced to ecological and economic aspects (Nadenicek et al., 2000). That narrowed focus ignores those, on whom sustainable development depends on: people and their physical manifestation, culture. Sustainable design depends on both economic and ecological health, cultural vitality (Lister, 2007) and stewardship. When sustainable development does not encourage stewardship, it is prone to fail in the long term (Nassauer, 2011). This design-research thesis focuses on the socio-cultural aspects of sustainable design and the role of participatory engagement in identifying the social and cultural layers of Whitmore Park. It explores how cultural and social factors can inform a sustainable redesign of the neglected 0.7-acre Whitmore Park in Annapolis, MD. The project also helps the community to save the park´s existence through creating a common, sustainable long-term vision for it. In order to create that vision, the designer used various community engagement methods to reconnect the communities to their plaza, and to explore socio-cultural sustainable design approaches. The park´s new aesthetics, functions and programming are driven by the results of the community engagements, as well as the SITEs (Sustainable Sites Initiative) design recommendations. The citizens´ involvement, as well as the socio-culturally sensitive and aesthetically pleasing design will foster a sense of community, and pride, which are important conditions for stewardship and therefore, sustainable development.