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Unsustainable sustainability – EP.3

By Tomas Ghisellini

Sustainability is so fashionable that owning a car for which consumption and polluting emissions are lower than others in the same category is today above all else “eco-chic”, more than really useful to the planet; green, the color-manifesto of the ecological love affair, takes over more than a quarter of the pages of every architectural magazine, dominating the panorama of sector publications, specialized advertising and packaging of building products. It is thus “in” that any self-respecting magazine, rotogravure or television space cannot refrain from flaunting its own specialized editorial, materializing the exaggerated use of terms of other languages ​​(eco-friendly, environmentally responsible, earth-saver solo to name a few), the desperate attempt to cleanse itself of the provincialism that distinguishes every instance of culturally unstructured custom.
The image of this partial and selective sustainability, for the use and consumption of most, has allowed operators the possibility of directing the market and the preferences of the buyers on the evaluation of more easily approached and in a certain sense “quantifiable” issues; that is, it endorsed critical silence, beyond any purely technical or performance question, on any reflection concerning the effective quality of living, on the most intimate sense of places, on the spaces of intermediary precisely to those intelligent housing machines so completely equipped.
This kind of petty and cheap sustainability has given rise to a series of interpretative misunderstandings that inform our shabby suburbs above all: casings with exaggerated technicalities, unreasonable stratigraphic oversizing, roofs coated with reassuring turf, snobbish buildings swathed by theories of flying trees, sunshade diaphragms on always shaded elevations or kaleidoscopes of materials unknown to local construction traditions but so deliciously “natural” and recyclable made us believe, at least for a while, that we can pay off our debt with the environment simply by conquering the smallest thermal transmittance value for our walls. And we also slept soundly.
But in doing so we simply hid the dirt under the carpet, continuing to devour soils and open spaces, continuing to disseminate everywhere fine fabrics of precious objects as chronically incapable of communicating, as if technological progress were in itself the bearer of intellectual and automatic innovation. cultural advancement.
The geopolitical changes, the overturning of migratory dynamics, the emergence of unprecedented social panoramas and equally heterogeneous audiences of buyers, together with the consideration of the building experiences carried out up to now, have shown that it is no longer possible to repeat beyond the logic of superficiality, which is to structure an idea of ​​sustainability as a territory of multidisciplinarity, a complex multilevel of knowledge and content that primarily recalls the reciprocal interaction, the critical intersection and the synergy between all the components that are the basis of every planning intention or, more in general of any settlement process.

This kind of petty and cheap sustainability has given rise to a series of interpretative misunderstandings