Yes, if we are as smart about how things look as we are about how they work, believes architect and designer Lance Hosey, author of The Shape of Green.
Many consider great design and green design to be separate pursuits, and in fact much of what is touted as “green” is not easy on the eyes. The ugly truth about sustainable design is that much of it is ugly.
Hosey believes that sustainable design often is unattractive because attractiveness isn’t considered essential to sustainability. Originally, he argues, the concept of sustainability promised to broaden the purpose of contemporary design, specifically by adding ethics to aesthetics. Instead it has virtually replaced aesthetics with ethics by providing clear and compelling standards for one and not the other.
Yet, the aesthetic potential of sustainability suggests that designers can enhance sustainability by embracing what they’ve always cared about most—the basic shape of things. Form and image can enhance conservation, comfort, and community at every scale of design, from products to buildings to cities. Aesthetic attraction isn’t a superficial concern—it’s an environmental imperative.