The actuality of environmental architecture in Estonia could be compared with gambling with false money. The public discourse seems to keep up relevant discussions, but it only takes a glimpse on suburban construction sites or huge development projects with government interest – and the glory achieved by ethical thoughts and nice words would fade away. Similarly, false money won’t guarantee the profits despite of the beauty of the game. Environmental design is, indeed, demanding and very often resistant to architecture as Susannah Hagan says in her article. It is not a question of simple moves that a person can perform in order to contribute to the improvement of (built) environment, but it’s a matter of numerous choices. The significance of choices becomes especially evident when considering the essential conflict embedded in ecological worldview: we act sustainable only at the expense of something else.
Popular image about environmental architecture represents it as something giving workable solutions. This approach would, of course, simultaneously prescribe specific themes to be touch upon in this special issue on environmental design. However, hoping to avoid the trivialising the subject, Ehituskunst comprises of articles serving as introductions to the context or contemplations on a theme. As Inga Raukas puts in her introductory article: “there is no uniformly interpretable and measurable context on the background of which to view ecology”. Hence, architecture itself is involved in these contexts in numerous and conflicting ways. Kalle Komissarov brings the discussion about the ways architecture participate in materialising the ecological worldview down to more specific examples by outlining main trends in European sustainable architecture in past decades. Regina Viljasaar writes about a conflict between Home as architectural archetype and homelessness, showing how this relation has been translated into contemporary art practices, at the same time referring to how these solutions would contribute to a sustainable society. A future settlement built according to site-specific climatic conditions on Paljassaare peninsula in Tallinn is envisioned by Veronika Valk and Susannah Hagan proposes five reasons why architectural schools and practices should be actively involved in building up sustainable society and not refraining from general reconsideration of material culture. The historical dimension of environmental architecture is taken up by Brazilian architects Guilah Naslavsky and Izabel Amaral who investigate on how Modern Movement, regardless of its internationalism and use of standardised building technologies, adopted to local climates and cultural contexts. A philosophical essay by Félix Guattari speaks of a need to replace the ideologies that split up the society with new holistic approach that would unite the disrupted subjective, environmental and social ecosystems.