Sustainable Design

Bernhard Sommer
Architecture, Energy Design
2023S, scientific seminar (SEW), 3.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03924


The weather is a deterministically chaotic system. As a consequence the task to sustainably design the built environment is highly complex, the environment including human activity is a highly complex system.

There is no final or generally valid evaluation scheme for the ecological compatibility of buildings or even urban development, the topic seems too complex for that. But there are a sufficient number of necessarily imperfect schemes that can be used.
In this seminar we will develop an intuitive understanding of these schemes so that our design results themselves lead to integration into sustainable cycles and sustainable lifestyles.

The architects' contribution lies in a fundamentally correct arrangement. However, this must be embedded in the entirety of architectural questions, i.e. go from structural engineering questions to questions of functionality and sociological questions to cultural and artistic answers. The responsibility of the architect differs significantly from purely technical responsibilities, especially due to the cultural aspect, and this is where the importance of dealing with the issue of sustainability by architects lies.
The key to climate-friendly design of the environment lies in the “genetic design” embedding of ecological concerns. In order to do justice to the complexity of the sustainability question and to be able to recognize and develop unexpected approaches, it is necessary to acquire physical knowledge for balancing needs (not demands) and creation (not productivity) as well as techniques for simulating physical events.

Examination Modalities

In a series of lectures from my side and discursive sketches and designs from your side, we will discuss the meaning of sustainability and the options of a sustainable built environment.

The seminar contributions are to be digitally documented (e.g. as a PDF booklet) and this documentation is the basis for the assessment.


The availability of specialist knowledge by experts, however, harbors the risk of “intellectual sluggishness” on the part of the architects responsible for designing the built environment and has also led to a reduction in technical and scientific content at some architecture faculties.
We were able to show at the Angewandte that this is not necessary. On the contrary, with the advances in digital possibilities in the information age, this separation can be blurred as we have never done before. Of course, specialists will always be needed for implementation. But the word τέχνη comes from the Greek and encompasses art, technology and science equally - it includes everything that is set in motion with a τέλος, an intention, a work of art as well as a clockwork or even a supporting structure.
In the early design stage, when the incorporation of physical facts would be essential for ecological and economic reasons, large teams of experts are not available.


16 March 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
23 March 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
30 March 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
20 April 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
27 April 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
04 May 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
11 May 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
25 May 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
01 June 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4
15 June 2023, 09:45–11:45 Seminar Room 4

Course Enrolment

From 01 February 2023, 19:41 to 31 March 2023, 19:41
Via online registration

Architecture (Master): Expertise: Architectural Science: Energy Design 443/002.03

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible