Professor Ana Betancour, Professor Elena Marco, Dr Jonathan Mosley, Dr Sonja Oliveira, and Dr Torsten Schroeder                            SBE0060

Written evidence from Professor Ana Betancour, Professor Elena Marco, Dr Jonathan Mosley, Dr Sonja Oliveira, and Dr Torsten Schroeder


Call for Evidence


Sonja Oliveira1, Elena Marco2, Ana Betancour3, Torsten Schröder4, Jonathan Mosley5

1.Founder of Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability (RAPS) and Associate Professor in Architecture and Design Innovation UWE, Bristol, UK

2.Professor of Teaching and Learning in Architecture and Head of Department UWE, Bristol, Partner of Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability (RAPS)

3.Professor of Architecture, Umeå University, Sweden,Partner of Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability (RAPS)

4.Co-Founder of Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability (RAPS), Assistant Professor of Sustainability in Architectural Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands

5.Co-founder of Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability (RAPS) and Associate Professor in Architecture and Experimental Practice UWE, Bristol, UK




























General Note: Evidence described in this report has been drawn out of newly formed international initiative Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability (RAPS) and prepared in partnership with initiative partners and initiators. RAPS, nor any of its affiliated partners shall make any warranty or representation or have any legal liability or responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or fitness of any information, product or process disclosed. 

Summary: The following evidence gathered is of particular relevance to strategic pathway planning towards a decarbonised society where focus is placed on the design of environments rather than the design of buildings only. Building buildings is only one tool within a toolkit capable of improving and enhancing environments. The call for evidence suggests a narrow focus driven by potentially one-dimensional sustainable outcomes such as need for adaptation measures to building with little or no consideration for alternatives to building. Greater focus is needed on evidence that supports alternatives to building; new methods and new measures that account for social and cultural dimensions in evaluating sustainability in the built environment, and the embracing of multiplicity and diversity that allows for reskilling and knowledge-sharing in a meaningful way.


Questions 4,9 and 10 outlined in the call have been responded to as below using numbered paragraphs. In addition, further evidence not limited to questions posed in call has been included as below. Evidence described below has been drawn out of expert panel discussions within the RAPS Initiative.


Question 4~ What role can the planning system, permitted development and building regulations play in delivering a sustainable built environment?


Question 9~ How should re-use and refurbishment of buildings be balanced with new developments?

The inquiry notes government’s target for 300,000 new homes a year (MHCLG 2018) as well as the need to comply with Future Home Standard with demand for cooling likely to increase. Setting clear guidelines for sustainable construction will need to be considered in relation to increasingly challenging infrastructural issues of energy governance, digital equity and spatial inclusion (Oliveira et al., 2021).  Consideration of both social and spatial context as well as cultural diversity, critical in studies of interrelated complex phenomena, are missing from housing and energy use research (Maalsen 2020). There is a pressing danger, that the cross-cultural multidimensionality of digital and energy home transformation processes will continue to be overlooked, making considerations of energy justice and digital equity a set of one-dimensional outcomes and policy factors (Maalsen and Dowling 2019).  Dominant ways of knowing and categorising residents and homes within one-dimensional spatial frames, through which energy and ambient data are consumed and generated, obscure many socio-material encounters between residents, spaces and the technologies they shape and are shaped by, narrowing the scope for intervention to the provision of information and technology.


Without significant new insights and better theoretically informed research, there are wide concerns that policy attention will remain targeted towards the ‘knowable’ and quantifiable technical and economic attributes of digital technology and energy consumption. There is a need for evidence that helps explain:



Question 10~ What can Government do to incentivise more repair, maintenance and retrofit of existing buildings?

The government could support Reskilling of the sector and inclusive accessible Knowledge sharing. Reskilling is identified as being required across the sector with potential for new roles and hybrid professional knowledge and skill development that places importance on multidisciplinarity and multiphenomenon problem solving.


Added Evidence~ Research and Development on Methodological Innovation needed:

Overall a number of areas are identified as needing further research and development including (see also Thürriedl et al., 2021(forthcoming)


Added evidence~ Need for new terminology, culture and vision


May 2021




Maalsen, S and Dowling, R (2020), Covid-19 and the accelerating smart home, Big Data & Society, 7 (2)

Maalsen, S. (2020). Revising the smart home as assemblage.Housing Studies,35(9), 1534-1549

Oliveira, S., Badarnah, L., Barakat, M., Chatzimichali, A and Atkins, A (2021 forthcoming), Socio-Spatial Ambient Technology Encounters- your home to mine, Radical Architecture Practice for Sustainability ‘Radicality Conference’ Sept 2021, Bristol

Oliveira, S., & Marco, E. (2018). Role of ‘community spaces’ in residents’ adaptation to energy-efficient heating technologies—Insights from aUKlow-energy housing development,Sustainability,10(4), 934.

Thürriedl, K., Betancour,A., Oliveira, S., Buchinger, A and Schröder, T (2021fortcoming), What is Sustainability-different perceptions, New European Bauhaus Conference: Common Ground- Making the Renovation Wave a cultural project, 29th Aprils 2021, NEBC