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Ecological crises have affected the architecture discipline, and different techniques, technologies, and design approaches have flourished. A theory about the effect of ecology on architectural design, formulated as ecological design, and its education has started in institutes. However, it is important that the practice of architecture is reflected through theoretical knowledge in its outputs, and the discipline is conscious about its theoretical knowledge when designing a building, including how much can be understood in the concrete project. This study tries to discern the role of theoretical knowledge in practice and in final projects in the context of ecological design by estimating masters students’ experiences, perceptions, and attitudes. The research method of this study is a qualitative approach, and in-depth interviews have been done with masters-level students. The results of this study showed that the theoretical knowledge given in the lectures could change the opinions of a designer regarding ecological design. Based on the results, ecological design courses can increase the popularity of ecological building design strategies, which offers potential for more sustainable living environments and more environmentally friendly buildings, and their spread into human environments.
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sustainability
Article
Supporting Theoretical Courses through Application
Hacer Mutlu Danaci 1, * and Hilmi Ekin Oktay 2
1Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Akdeniz University, Antalya 07058, Turkey
2Department of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Van Yuzuncu Yil University,
Van 65090, Turkey; ekinoktay@gmail.com
*Correspondence: hacermutlu@gmail.com; Tel.: +90-53-2274-6555
Received: 14 August 2018; Accepted: 26 September 2018; Published: 27 September 2018


Abstract:
Ecological crises have affected the architecture discipline, and different techniques,
technologies, and design approaches have flourished. A theory about the effect of ecology on
architectural design, formulated as ecological design, and its education has started in institutes.
However, it is important that the practice of architecture is reflected through theoretical knowledge
in its outputs, and the discipline is conscious about its theoretical knowledge when designing a
building, including how much can be understood in the concrete project. This study tries to discern
the role of theoretical knowledge in practice and in final projects in the context of ecological design
by estimating masters students’ experiences, perceptions, and attitudes. The research method of this
study is a qualitative approach, and in-depth interviews have been done with masters-level students.
The results of this study showed that the theoretical knowledge given in the lectures could change the
opinions of a designer regarding ecological design. Based on the results, ecological design courses
can increase the popularity of ecological building design strategies, which offers potential for more
sustainable living environments and more environmentally friendly buildings, and their spread into
human environments.
Keywords: sustainability; ecological design; architecture; design education; theoretical courses
1. Introduction
Architecture is a discipline that combines theoretical knowledge with practical output.
Architecture is an epistemologically different field in that it has two aspects, both theory and practice [
1
].
Another interesting point is that theory in architecture cannot be determined as theory in the natural
sciences; it is more subjective and a more institutional knowledge, compared to in the natural
sciences [
2
]. Because of this, its estimation can be sometimes hard, and many debates on society
can occur in a discussion of a product of architectural design [
3
]. It can have broad meanings, and each
one of them can be read differently by different people, according to their perceptions [
2
]. This is one
of the hardest aspects of architecture and architectural knowledge. The same situation is observed
in the fine arts because both have an aesthetic dimension. However, architecture has a more primary
position: its products and output of architectural design are related to spatial design and have more
necessary functions when compared with outcomes of the fine arts. Accommodation is a basic living
need for humankind and it is based upon other needs, with a need for feeding at the bottom of the
hierarchy-of-need pyramid [
4
]. This function was accepted for humans only recently, but with the
increasing ecological disturbances of the past century, designers have started to express its meaning
by taking care of other living creatures, and accordingly they have started to design with nature and
environmental cycles in mind [5].
The effects of climate change can be observed by the naked eye, and environmental pollution
around the globe has increased. Many institutions have warned of environmental destruction and
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439; doi:10.3390/su10103439 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 2 of 9
mass extinctions. Carbon emissions into the atmosphere have increased day by day. The concept of
sustainability has been formulated to solve these problems.
Sustainability has caused the development of ecological architectural design theory, in terms of
sustainable development. Ecological design is an approach to architecture that conveys the use of green
technologies, use of recycled material, the design and building of buildings with minimum carbon
emissions, and other innovative techniques to integrate the building in nature. Similarly, there is an
increasing trend in the building sector to estimate the effect of building on nature, from construction to
decomposing phase, and BIM (Building Information Modelling) techniques have been integrated into
all phases of the construction sector. Sustainable building design can be identified as designing and
building of buildings without harm to the resources of future generations. This paper sought to find
the importance of the theory in architectural practice of ecological design by assessing perceptions
of architects. Theoretical knowledge regarding ecological design can be defined as shared wisdom
between architects and environmental scientists about relationships between nature and buildings,
which considers minimizing the effects of the building on the environment and the implementation
of this knowledge in the design of the architectural products. Many studies have showed that the
understanding of architects and laypersons is different [
6
], and many debates can be observed in
terms of the value of an architectural product [
7
]. In ecological design, outcomes can be perceived
differently, and different functions can be ignored by users [
8
]. This causes debate between experts
and ordinary users causes, and there is a need to find balance between them, with shared wisdom
and knowledge. To achieve this, theory is critical in terms of bringing them together. Both design
and the context of the design in architecture have vital roles in building a sustainable community [
9
],
and theory is a crucial factor in paving the way to creating it [
10
]. However, teaching theory is difficult
in architectural education because of the unique nature of the architecture discipline. In theoretical
lectures, some theoretical knowledge is taught to the students, and it is expected that students will be
able to answer questions within this field. Students who memorize theoretical knowledge and answer
questions will probably pass the exam, but if they do not use this information later, they will probably
forget it. This situation means that useful information cannot reflect the final output, and in terms
of architecture and ecological design, this output would be expressed by a more sustainable living
environment, such as green buildings. Some different strategies have been formalized to increase the
role of the theory in practice [
11
]. These strategies can help improve sustainable environments in terms
of both ecological resilience and quality of life [12].
Education plays a central role in shaping individual and social change towards sustainability [
13
].
Professional education in universities provides not only the development and improvement of
professional competence, but also an increase in the general cultural level [
9
]. In terms of architecture,
universities departments and institutes are vital elements to transfer new technologies and approaches
to the architectural design sector. This can be accomplished through the teaching of theory [
14
]. In terms
of architectural teaching activity, theoretical knowledge learned from tutors in sectors where theoretical
and applied courses are interpreted in practical design is expected. However, students are often unable
to use this theoretical knowledge if it is not given when needed. In general, theoretical information not
supported by application would be forgotten easily; however, the application of theoretical knowledge
provides insight for individuals to improve their ability to design [
15
]. Therefore, more sustainable
cities and living environments enrich daily life and ensure the future of human environments [
16
18
].
Some studies have reviewed sustainability issues in the construction sector [
19
,
20
]. Moreover,
some studies have focused on traditional buildings [
21
], some of them consider the design phase of
a green building [
22
], and others, the education phase [
23
], in terms of ecological design. This study
focuses on the perception of architects regarding ecological design by estimating their description of
it. There are some qualitative studies about sustainable design process [
24
], new architectural design
methods such as co-housing [
25
] and communicative capability changes of architectural students [
26
].
They similarly use recordings of interviews as data and code their respondents’ verbal expressions.
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 3 of 9
Theoretical lessons can always be applied in areas that require design skills such as architecture.
In this context, this research is conducted with students in the Architecture Department during
Ecological Architecture Research, where students are first given general theoretical knowledge,
and then asked to design a small-scale ecological life capsule where they can apply this information.
No exam is set, and a grade is given according to the success of the design project. In this context,
students produce projects in which they can apply what they have learned in a theoretical way,
in different environments, with different cultural and physical environments. Accordingly, the scope
of this study is limited to a masters lecture, its students, and their perception of the lecture and
its outcomes. A masters-level lecture was selected because its students are professional architects,
practicing both architecture and its management in city municipality offices. They are very familiar
with education, and some of them are future academic candidates. However, there are some limitations
to this study. For example, the findings cannot be generalized because of its qualitative nature, finding
clues about the perception of ecological design from the views of students and the effect of theory
on practice and applications. Thus, the findings’ limitations mean they should not be generalized to
all architects; instead, its scope is limited to gaining insights about an ecological design lecture and
its outcomes. It should not be forgotten that a qualitative approach was used as the methodology of
the study.
The main aim of the study is to gain insights into the influence of theoretical knowledge on
practice. The final projects of an ecological design masters lecture were used as research media in the
interviews with research subjects. An ecological design lecture was selected as the research subject
because ecological design is an essential part of the concept of sustainability. Our central assumption
is that sustainability starts from a place where a responsible individual lives. The living environment
is the primary medium that shapes life and lifestyles holistically. Thus, to build a more sustainable
community in the future, architecture and ecological design will be critical elements. Because of the
education of the designers who will shape future artificial spatial environments, more sustainably is
essential for communities.
Based on this, the objectives of this study can be listed as follows:
(I)
To gain insight into the theoretical knowledge of practice
(II)
To find critical factors for educating designers to be more responsible towards sustainability
(III)
To investigate the architects’ perceptions of ecological design
(IV)
To inform tutors of architectural lectures about knowledge-based design in ecology
(V)
To improve architectural education to build a more sustainable community.
From this point of view, it can be said that the overall aim of this study is to spread ecological
design among designers as part of a sustainable community.
2. Materials and Methods
In this study, a qualitative research method has been used as the research methodology. It has
implemented literature reviews and interviews and helps to find the insights into theoretical knowledge
in lectures and its outputs. This insight should be gained more effectively by an understanding of
individuals’ perceptions about the lecture and its outputs. Despite quantitative methods having their
own benefits, a qualitative research strategy allows for observing indicators, which cannot be gained
and sorted by classical data collection tools such as questionnaires. Moreover, some other research
questions, rather than “how much” or “how many”, such as “how”, “what”, and “why”, can be
answered by data gained by qualitative research methods. Because the primary objective of the study
is not to prove relationships by statistical analyses but rather to gain insights about relationships
between theory and practice in terms of ecological design, a qualitative research method is best suited.
Moreover, the research population was quite small, and the size did not allow for statistical analyses.
Ecological design is selected as a topic because of its healthy relationship with the concept of
sustainability. In addition, in terms of the dissemination of the sustainability concept, architects
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 4 of 9
who are in both practice and management in the city are seen as the main actors. In conclusion,
the discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local
and global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical knowledge
of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a lecture about
ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given at Akdeniz
University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the lecture were
selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-scale pilot
research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as the research
sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their permission
interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March 2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional background,
perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about projects that
were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-to-face
verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place in
work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of the
students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because of
institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture and
studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial
Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects that
made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 9
discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local and
global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical
knowledge of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a
lecture about ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given
at Akdeniz University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the
lecture were selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-
scale pilot research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as
the research sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their
permission interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March
2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional
background, perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about
projects that were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-
to-face verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place
in work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of
the students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because
of institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture
and studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects
that made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their
thoughts.
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 9
discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local and
global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical
knowledge of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a
lecture about ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given
at Akdeniz University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the
lecture were selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-
scale pilot research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as
the research sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their
permission interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March
2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional
background, perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about
projects that were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-
to-face verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place
in work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of
the students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because
of institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture
and studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects
that made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their
thoughts.
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 9
discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local and
global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical
knowledge of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a
lecture about ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given
at Akdeniz University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the
lecture were selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-
scale pilot research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as
the research sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their
permission interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March
2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional
background, perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about
projects that were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-
to-face verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place
in work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of
the students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because
of institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture
and studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects
that made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their
thoughts.
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 9
discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local and
global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical
knowledge of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a
lecture about ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given
at Akdeniz University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the
lecture were selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-
scale pilot research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as
the research sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their
permission interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March
2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional
background, perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about
projects that were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-
to-face verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place
in work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of
the students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because
of institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture
and studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects
that made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their
thoughts.
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 9
discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local and
global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical
knowledge of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a
lecture about ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given
at Akdeniz University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the
lecture were selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-
scale pilot research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as
the research sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their
permission interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March
2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional
background, perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about
projects that were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-
to-face verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place
in work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of
the students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because
of institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture
and studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects
that made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their
thoughts.
Sustainability 2018, 10, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 9
discipline of architecture is a crucial element of building sustainable spatial organizations in local and
global spheres.
Because investigations of architects’ experiences relate to the insight into the theoretical
knowledge of practice in terms of ecological design, master students who have participated in a
lecture about ecological design are the best subjects for this study. The ecological design lecture given
at Akdeniz University’s Architecture Department was selected as a case study, and students of the
lecture were selected as the research population. No probability sample was used because it is small-
scale pilot research. All the students who took this lecture (seven master students) were selected as
the research sample. In interview phase, participation was voluntary, and all subjects gave their
permission interview recordings to be used as research data. Seven interviews were done in March
2018.
Semi-structured interview questions had three different parts, and some additional questions
were asked according to the responses of the subjects. Qualitative verbal data was collected through
questions from semi-structured interview forms which were related to their professional
background, perception of ecological design and of the ecological design lecture, and insights about
projects that were conducted at the end of the lecture. Interviews were done by researchers with face-
to-face verbal communication, and voice recording was done with the permission of the respondents.
Four interviews took place at Akdeniz University campus, and the other three interviews took place
in work environments such as municipalities or the design studio of the students. In Turkey, some of
the students are going to study at graduate level and work as a professional at the same time because
of institutes’ funding restrictions. In this study, five of the subjects are both practicing architecture
and studying at graduate level. The respondents’ characteristics are given in Table 1.
Table 1. Definitions and role of the respondents.
Position Graduate Expert Audiotape
AZ Practice in Sector 2014 Residential Projects/Commercial Projects Yes
BY Management 2014 Public Projects Yes
CV Education 2017 Urban Open Spaces Yes
DU Education 2017 Public Projects Yes
ES Management 2016 Public Project Yes
FT Practice in Sector 2016 Indoor Design Yes
GS Practice in Sector 2017 The innovation of Building Materials Yes
The final projects of the masters students were used as practice outputs for evaluating their
experiences from the lecture. Subjects were asked questions based on the semi-structured interview
form about their perception of ecological design. They were also asked to evaluate all the projects
that made up the final project of the lecture, including their own (Table 2).
Table 2. Stimuli used in interviews.
Stimuli
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their
thoughts.
AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Each interview began by asking about their educational and professional backgrounds and their
expertise in different architectural positions. Then they were asked about their estimations and
perceptions of ecological design, their definitions of it, and the effect of the lecture on their perception
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 5 of 9
of ecological design. It also tried to collect insights into the influence of theory on ecological design
application. Finally, each project was shown to the respondents and they were asked for their thoughts.
The interviews lasted around 30 min, with some of them taking 40 min to one hour. All of
them were done in the native language (Turkish) of the respondent. All recorded audiotape data was
transcribed verbatim and typed into a word processor as raw data for content analysis and coding.
Content analyses were done in the native language too; after investigations, translation of the cited
conservations, codes and themes were made into English by the author. Some of the unique expressions
peculiar to the native language have been lost in the translation phase, but the main content has been
translated precisely. Despite the translation of the results causing loss of some comments, the essence
of the conservation has been reflected in the paper. The data was analyzed with the help of a qualitative
analysis program called Nvivo (ver. 10). The transcription of the sound data produced 14,842 words of
data. All this data was analyzed using content analyses, coding, and thematic analysis.
3. Results
Students were asked how they define ecology and ecological design, why they define the terms
like this, their perception of the terms and the effect of the lecture on their perceptions of ecological
design. According to AZ, the most critical factor in ecology is not to interrupt the environment.
She stated that “without interruption to the environment and by using opportunities of the local
environment—being environmentally friendly is important—the design that sustains itself uses its
own resources and productions without dependence on outer systems, and a holistic design uses its
landscape of the endemic and natural vegetation of the area.” She stated that she has tried to apply
this concept to her final project. For example, the choice of building aspects, the setting of the building,
and the general settlement plan are all estimated in light of climate adaptation, and she tried to build
a self-sustaining system for the energy needs of the building. She indicates that all these items and
principles are essential for her to achieve an excellent ecological design. She highlighted the importance
of the lecture they attended. She stated that they had been given a topic about building adaptations
to local climate, and this topic was taught throughout the whole week. This topic was vital for her,
and she was very impressed.
Ecology is a general concept, and it should not be estimated by only the view of the architecture.
According to her, ecology is a general science that concerns all living and non-living things in the
world and the relationship between them. When she thinks about the concept in the context of the
architecture, she stated that architects have generally perceived the building as a thing that is separate
from nature. They are individual elements separate from nature and free from the effects of nature.
She stated that the situation would be evaluated in detail and they can see that buildings are part of
nature too, and as time passes nature’s invasion on buildings can be seen by the naked eye. According
to her, the lecture about ecological design has improved her building knowledge more precisely.
She stated that before she took the lecture, she had little knowledge about the carbon production of
concrete and passive energy systems (like solar panels for water). After she had taken the lecture,
she had an in-depth knowledge of ecological design. She stated that the lecture changed her perception.
Before she took the lecture, she thought that ecological design depended on expensive systems and
was not suitable for the everyday user, but when she saw the concepts and techniques used in the
ecological design she understood that they can be applied even to simple public buildings.
According to GS, ecological design is an adaptation of the humankind and their need for nature.
He stated that environment could be defined as the origin of humans. According to him, environment
is divided into two sections: one is natural and other is artificial. According to CV, ecology is merely
a system of nature, and she thinks that all the resources in nature are part of this system. DU has
a lateral view with BY. She stated that ecology is knowledge of the environment that concerns the
relationship between living and non-living things. FT has a similar perception about ecology but
added that according to her, buildings are living things too, with a life cycle like living creatures. ES has
estimated ecological design through the aspect of the sustainability. She indicates that ecological design
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 6 of 9
is sustainable, uses renewable energy and does not disrupt nature with its settlement, construction,
and period of use (Table 3).
Table 3. Codes of respondents.
Codes AZ BY CV DU ES FT GS
Ecology is not interpreting the nature + + +
Ecology is a science of interaction between living and non-living creatures
+ + +
Ecology is the system of nature +
Ecology is the adaptation of the Human to nature +
An aspect of the Sustainability +
The courses have changed my mind about ecology +
Ecology courses help to improve my design +
AZ has estimated the projects on the success of the passive design strategies that help to energy
saving of the building. In addition, she indicates that active systems for energy production of the
building would help the system as a self-sustaining way. Moreover, she states that the vegetation
around the building is very important and it would be suitable with the climate. She added that
“the species planted around the buildings should be selected from endemic vegetation of the regions”.
BY estimated the projects in term of the building integrity with landscape. She mostly highlights the
importance of climate of the region and design techniques for buildings should be suitable with it.
Moreover, she indicates that systems used in buildings should minimize the energy costs. CV mostly
indicate that climate and protection of the building from energy loss is important. She states that
“the view of the building should be optimum angle to collect natural light especially direct sunlight”.
DU mostly highlighted the technology used in building design. She mostly estimates the technology
of building according relation with ecological design. According to ES air circulation in indoor space
of the building is important. From ecological view passive circulation systems should be used to save
energy. According to FT use of local material is most important issue in term of the ecological design.
She stated that ecological design should mimic the nature and traditional buildings and their design
logic are good resources for achieving this aim. According to Gs general layouts of the projects is most
important issue in term of the project estimation. Additionally, the material used in building should be
selected with carefully and follow innovations in material science.
4. Discussion
AZ, DU and FT have parallel definitions about ecology, and they have differed only in terms
of their attitude towards design. AZ and BY indicate the importance of the theoretical lectures on
the development and design of the final projects. BY has indicated the lecture led her to change her
perception of ecological design, moving to a different position. She finds it more applicable than in the
past when she considers the topics of the lecture. All the interviewers have a positive attitude towards
all projects, including their own projects. They indicate that they estimate more consciously the projects
when they are compared with the past. They are very sensitive to the context of the projects, and they
estimate all the projects in their conditions. They highlighted the natural and ecological conditions that
have been considered in the projects. Because of them, it can be said that ecological design lectures are
essential to educating more sensitive designers about sustainability, and theoretical knowledge can
cause a change in the attitudes of the architects.
In addition to these, lecture help to spread new technologies among the designers. They can use
this technology in their design or they effectively read this technology from other projects. Moreover,
the integration of the building with its context is important for students. With achieving this more
ecologically sound designs can be established. Another important point that the students highlighted
in self-sustaining in term of the energy production and energy saving in the whole building. Another
point is that students looks traditional architecture in a different way. They seem it as a resource for
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 7 of 9
passive ecological design strategies and they willing to adapt them in modern building units with an
innovative fusion.
Implications
These findings are significant in terms of the spread of the sustainability concept and ecological
design education. Based on the results, it can be said that lectures can change the attitudes on the
ecological design of the architects. To educate more sensitive architects, ecological design courses
should be given more detail in the lectures of the undergraduate phase of the architecture. Another
point is that the inform on the architects about new innovations in design and material science is
important too. Ecological wisdom can gain more effectively with understanding of the natural cycles
by designers. In addition, adaptation to these natural cycles is important. With understanding this
process, it is possible for community to make more effectively design and to build more sustainable
living units. Therefore, ecological design would become as essential part of the building sector and
architects from any age would part to build more ecological buildings.
5. Conclusions
Ecological design is the important step towards a sustainable community, because the building
industry is most important field in terms of the negative effects on nature. An ecological design
approach can help to minimize the negative effects of building on nature. Therefore, spreading
the wisdom and philosophy of ecological design among architects is important for educators and
researchers of the architectural design discipline, causing more rational use of natural resources,
which will help protect nature. In addition, the logic behind nature should more precisely
understood by architects, causing buildings to be more successfully adapted to natural conditions
and self-sustaining. To achieve this, ecological wisdom in the design phase of a building is important.
Results showed that architects have improved after being informed of different ecological design
approaches. Each of them has different attitudes towards ecological design, but they expressed that they
have gained the ability to design buildings in a more ecologic and sustainable paradigm. Architects in
both practice and management are essential for building a sustainable community. In most developing
countries in Asia, building designs and built processes still do not consider ecological aspects of
buildings, and their current architectural education systems have problems regarding delivering
knowledge about basic ecological cycles and natural systems; most of them remain more mechanical.
However, with increasing integrity of ecological wisdom in architectural education, architects can be
more conscious about ecology in the design phase of a building. The scope and aim of the ecological
design course which is the subject of this study is to educate and inform designers with the concept of
ecology and ecological design, and to offer theoretical knowledge about ecological architecture and
ecological design principles. Giving this theoretical knowledge would help improve consciousness of
the sustainability and ecology concepts and gain the ability to design buildings in terms of ecological
design. Some students forget the theoretical knowledge in a very short period. However, as seen in the
results, when theoretical knowledge is supported by application and practice, designers will resolve
real design problems and to use their theoretical background in the design phase. With this treatment,
the result of the course can be met with its proposed aim and scope. Experiences and expressions of
the students show the importance of their theoretical knowledge on their designs. This study revealed
the importance of the theoretical courses on the practice and application of ecological design, in terms
of theoretical knowledge of practice. The research suggests that the perceptions of architects and
designers can be changed in a positive way, with direct implementations of theory before and during
the design phase. Knowledge about ecological design improves both the design technology and the
perceptions of the designed projects.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, H.M.D. and H.E.O.; Methodology, H.E.O.; Software, H.M.D.;
Validation, H.M.D., H.E.O.; Formal Analysis, H.E.O.; Investigation, H.M.D.; Resources, H.M.D.; Data Curation,
H.M.D.; Writing-Original Draft Preparation, H.E.O.; Writing-Review & Editing, H.M.D.; Visualization, H.M.D.
Sustainability 2018,10, 3439 8 of 9
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Acknowledgments: Author wants to thank to Guler Oktay for her kind help.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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