Sustainable Architecture – Between Measurement and Meaning

Carmela Cucuzzella, Sherif Goubran (Eds.)

by Anne Cormier (Université de Montreal), Nada Tarkhan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)), Tom Jefferies (Queen’s University Belfast), Laura Coucill (Manchester School of Architecture), Izabel Amaral (Laurentian University), Ted Cavanagh (Dalhousie University)

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In the current scientific context of the Anthropocene, sustainability is a crucially important topic not merely as concerns the environmental field. As the authors suggest, sustainability refers to the social, political, economic and of course, human areas in general. The book edited by Cucuzzella and Goubran proposes a reconsideration of the concept of sustainability in the architectural field from both a theoretical and a practical point of view. The authors state that the current architectural practices contemplate sustainability only from a quantitative viewpoint through measurable parameters which solely consider the energetic and economic efficiency. The result is a sustainability of measurement that too often disregards social, human and cultural factors. “As we move towards a technocratic sustainable future, we lost the humanity of architecture”, the authors say thus also denouncing that the current vision of sustainability has not allowed facing the social and environmental deterioration effectively. The six chapters of the book provide a theoretical and practical instrument to renegotiate the relationship between the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of architectural work. The relation between measurement and meaning is therefore not elaborated as an opposition but as a dialectical process whose aim is to restore the human dimension of the architectural sustainability. From this point of view, the book edited by Cuccuzzella and Goubran is food for thought not only for design and architecture studies but for anybody interested in the consequences of the current environmental and social critical situation.

Alfonso Pinto
Ecole Urbaine de Lyon, University of Lyon, France

This book adds to existing scholarship in architecture by offering a series of perspectives on the question of sustainable architecture and design. The book’s evocative title ‘Sustainable Architecture - Between Measurement and Meaning’ situates sustainability within a fresh spectrum of meaning that includes both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
[...] A significant attribute of this book is its inclusion of a diverse range of positions and methods regarding the question of sustainability in architecture. The proposed collection of essays is a timely contribution to the subject and is easy to read and follow. The references in the bibliographies of each chapter are also excellent, allowing the reader to use this book as a gateway to other primary sources.

Dr. Terrance Galvin
Laurentian University

Each day new articles, books, and reports present new methods, standards, and technologies for achieving sustainability in architecture. Additionally, new materials, technological gadgets, and data are increasingly considered the staples of architecture’s future. As we increasingly embrace this techno-advancement, we must be equally aware that we may be pushing architecture into a managerial science and away from its core concerns such as expression, contextuality, functionality and aesthetics.
Sustainable architecture that is focused on the abstract measurements of consumption, energy, and emissions loses sight of the vital role that architecture holds in our world: it is the field that creates our public spaces and our places of dwelling, of business, of production, of leisure, and creation. Additionally, it fails to comprehend the human dimension of buildings, as elements that are deeply connected to their sites’ historic contexts and that play a key role in defining our social relations and our connection to the spaces we occupy and utilize.

“Sustainable Architecture – Between Measurement and Meaning” takes a step back to reflect on how sustainability in the built environment can be theorized and practiced critically. This book exposes that architecture remains a human and social science that lies at the intersection of measurements and meanings. It reveals that sustainable architecture can still operate in a dialectic space of expression, rather than serving as a manifesto for either the technical or socio-cultural extremes. It purports that the human intuition, senses, and skills still holds the key to unravelling alternative futures of sustainable built spaces. And that most importantly, humans still have a place in sustainable architecture.
This book will be of interest to students, early career scholars, established researchers and practitioners studying sustainability in the built environment. It can be used as a referencee to those in the fields of design, architecture, landscape and urban design, urban studies, geography, social sciences, and engineering.






Walking the wire – sustainability + design in an uncertain ethos
Brian R. Sinclair
University of Calgary


Caught between measurement and meaning
Carmela Cucuzzella
Concordia University
Sherif Goubran
The American University in Cairo

Zoom-in, Zoom-out – Sustainability in the Scale(s) of Architecture
Anne Cormier
Université de Montréal

Sustainable architecture as facticity, perception, and potential
Carmela Cucuzzella
Concordia University
Technological trajectories: Assessing the role of sensing in design
Nada Tarkhan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Recognising effectiveness in sustainable design
Tom Jefferies
Queen’s University Belfast
Laura Coucill
Manchester School of Architecture

Connections of immaterial to sustainable tectonics
Izabel Amaral
Laurentian University

Intentions and Consequences: Prototyping and Appropriate Technology
Ted Cavanagh
Dalhousie University

Carmela Cucuzzella
Concordia University
Sherif Goubran
The American University in Cairo


Dr. Carmela Cucuzzella is an Associate Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University and holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Integrated Design and Sustainability for the Built Environment ( She is also a member of the inter-university research team, Laboratoire d’étude de l’architecture potentielle (LEAP). In 2020, she published, “Analyzing Eco-Architecture Beyond Performance”. In 2019, she co-edited, “On the Potential of Didacticism in Architecture” with Dr. Cynthia Hammond, and in 2015 co-edited, “Architecture Competitions and the Production of Culture, Quality and Knowledge: An International Inquiry” with Dr. Jean-Pierre Chupin and Dr. Bechara Helal. s Her a research is focused on how sustainable design practices for the built environment can foster socio-cultural transformations while improving environmental conditions in the city – the potential of a collective making of the city.

Sherif Goubran is an Instructor at the Department of Architecture at the School of Science and Engineering (SSE) at the American University in Cairo (AUC - Egypt). He is also a PhD candidate in the Individualized Program at Concordia University and a Vanier Scholar (SSHRC). He is the author of various publications and editor and author of several academic books focused on sustainability transitions in the built environment. He also recently co-edited a collection focused on the business and economic repercussions of environmental policy. His research, which combines knowledge from the fields of design, building engineering and finance, is focused on studying the alignment between sustainable design and building practices, and the broader socio-cultural sustainable development objectives.

sustainable architecture, ecological architecture, architectural immateriality, environmental certifications, design build, eco-technology, scales of architecture, eco-efficiency, eco-effectiveness, architectural symbolism, eco-rhetoric, eco-visibility, eco-perception

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Sustainable Architecture – Between Measurement and Meaning





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


45 B&W

Publication date

January 2021