Shifting the Sustainability Paradigm

This spring, visiting lecturer Stephanie Brown led a new architectural studies course at MHC, Regenerative Design: Shifting the Sustainability Paradigm. Using South Hadley’s landfill and recycling center as a model, Brown taught students to develop conceptual designs that consider buildings and facilities as ecosystems, with a birth, life, and death.

The course was designed to help students understand the impact of waste and trash on the environment, said Brown. Buildings are often constructed as if they were to stand forever, made from materials that are not recyclable or biodegradable.

“When those buildings are demolished, the construction materials become waste, destined for landfills,” she said.

To help students see the pressure landfills are under, Brown had the students redesign South Hadley’s landfill and recycling station using the regenerative design approach. As part of the project, the students were also required to find ways for landfill customers to learn about the trash they generate. The students incorporated ideas such as spaces for educational programming, art galleries, and gathering spaces into their designs.

“It’s too easy for us to throw away our trash and not consider where it goes and the impact it has on the environment,” said Brown.

Students presented their designs to landfill staff, local architects, and MHC faculty at a final review on April 27.