Social and Cultural Dimensions of Sustainable Buildings: The Otatara Case Study

By Mazin Bahho.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The concept of place in relation to location, time, living patterns, and sustainability is of relevance to this research. Otatara site in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand has a strong historic, cultural, and spiritual association with local indigenous Māori. In 1975, an arts programme was established there as an attempt to connect knowledge with tradition to produce optimal outcomes for both nature and culture. Although the arts programme has since moved away from that site, the cultural and social associations with the programme are still there. The only building left on the original Otatara site will be refurbished to become a demonstration facility for showcasing sustainable building design and technologies. It will also act as an educational tool for promoting behaviour and values that support sustainability. This paper will describe the development of the research model, which includes both interpretive and qualitative strategies. These will be adopted to uncover the complex factors that will help to explain the social and cultural influence in an explorative approach. The research, which is now underway, is a case study, which involves creating, monitoring and using a sustainable building and conducting a series of interviews with those involved in this process to understand the influence of the social and cultural contextual dimensions on sustainable buildings. The paper will report some initial findings.

Keywords: Social and Cultural Dimensions, Demonstration Project, Indigenous Culture, Sustainable Building

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.55-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 780.392KB).

Mazin Bahho

Senior Lecturer, Idea School, Arts and Thinking, Eastern Institute of Technology, Napier, New Zealand

Mazin Bahho: I am currently engaged in the full PhD programme at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The focus of my research is on gathering experiences from a sustainable building project and providing an inspiring exemplar. The idea that will be developed in my research is: how to demonstrate an example of a sustainable building project in order to explore the motivation of individuals and various groups who choose to become involved in it? I research into the field of spatial design to visualise and construct design solutions to issues of human habitation with a focus on ecology and the vernacular. My research aim is to provide a concrete model that can potentially influence attitudes to spatial design within the community. Research into the identity and ‘sense of place’ is paramount to my process, focusing on the significance of history/ event as a way of exploring patterns that can be expressed in the contemporary.