Regenerative Design in Science and Society

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Building Research & Information

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The Building Research & Information special issue entitled ‘Regenerative Design and Development’ (2012, volume 40, number 1) describes the emerging theory and practices. This commentary considers how regenerative design and development needs to engage with some broader topics of sustainability and the quest for knowledge. The papers in the special issue raise many matters, but this commentary will concentrate on three of them: (1) issues of scale, in space, time and the system level; (2) holism versus reductionism; and (3) monitoring, evaluation and intervention. Although they must be discussed individually, these topics overlap to a great degree. Challenges are posed on whether professionals and community stakeholders are empowered to intervene at appropriate scales, over sustained periods of time, to monitor operation over the longer term and, if needed, to make further interventions if the design goes awry. Although authors in the special issue question the role of reductionism in favour of a holistic view, there are merits for the use of reductionism, particularly for assisting with uncertainties or identifying constituent parts. A key challenge now will be to explore what practices and operations could provide solutions.

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