A new book by Dalibor Hlaváček and Martin Čeňek - Teaching [Sustainable] Architecture has been published

Rather than a statement, there is a question mark in the title. Much like architecture is a multi-layered discipline, a publication works with many ingredients. The authors leave their synthesis to the readers themselves.
Kniha Dalibora Hlaváčka a Martina Čeňka Učit [udržitelnou] architekturu | © Jiří Ryszawy

"We do not believe in straightforward solutions and unequivocal answers. To be both an architect and an architecture teacher is a lifelong journey," introduce themselves the authors working at the Faculty of Architecture of CTU in Prague. It is the responsibility of shaping future architects that leads them to the two questions they pose in the book. What is sustainable architecture? How to teach sustainability in architecture schools?

They then approach the answers from several directions. As the reviewer Petr Kratochvíl puts it: "The authors start from the legitimate belief that sustainable architecture cannot be defined by a few – merely quantitative – parameters, but consists of the realisation of a work which, from conceptual beginnings, combines in a holistic and at the same time creative way respect for environmental, social and economic requirements, while not resigning itself to the aesthetic side."


Unlike the search for a general definition of sustainability, the second question, searching for an ideal way to teach sustainability, is personal and concerns the performance of authors as teachers. “Our motivation was to develop a traditional model of studio teaching to better prepare students for the complexity of the architect's work and the challenges of sustainable architecture,” they explain in the introduction.

They were inspired to find the right model of teaching by, among other things, the experience of the Solar Decathlon competition, in which they and the CTU team competed with the AIR House solar house. AIR House was the first so-called design-build project undertaken at the Faculty of Architecture of CTU. In the book, the authors present this way of teaching, where students design and build, as one of the paths that leads to sustainability ceasing to be a theoretical term on paper. In the end, the books illustrate their method with five projects developed under their direction.

Before that, however, Dalibor Hlaváček and Martin Čeněk will give space to their colleagues. In this part of the book, they record how sustainability resonates between Czech and foreign architects, teachers and theorists. Their answers to questions about what sustainability means to them, how it manifests itself in their work and what importance it should have in teaching the profession show the book's theme in its true complexity.

In the last chapter, the authors select design-build projects of varying scale that originated in their studio at the Faculty of Architecture, CTU. They describe the process of creation, offering reflection and student experience. In the projects, repeated concepts materialise in the previous text into the concrete form of the realised structures. Whether it is the shelters or the walkway for the Giant Mountains National Park, the flagpole to Libčice nad Vltavou or the AIR House for Solar Decathlon, it is an implementation that, from the first sketches, tries to combine in a creative way respect for environmental, social and economic requirements.

The book comes at a time when the European Union is launching an environmental, economic and cultural project New European Bauhaus. "It is about reconciling sustainability with style, bringing the ideas of the Green Deal closer to citizens and projecting those ideas into their lives," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promises from the new Bauhaus a similar dynamic to that generated by the old Bauhaus 100 years ago.

Europe's new Bauhaus is set to become a new European aesthetic combining good design with sustainability. On dedicated websites, artists, designers, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, architects and students can share examples of inspirational solutions. Organisations can become partners of the new European Bauhaus. "The Faculty of Architecture of CTU should be among them. The Bauhaus ideas are close to our hearts, we also realize that a century later we have other options and means. The academic ground should come up with new formulations," comments Dalibor Hlaváček on a new European initiative.

The book was graphically edited by Side2 studio, published by The Golden Cut in 2020. It is available for purchase at virtual bookshop

For the content of this site is responsible: doc. Ing. arch. Jan Jakub Tesař, Ph.D.