Framework for capacity based sustainable design & development: towards resilient communities

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The most fundamental struggle for realizing a sustainable built environment still lies in the use of non-renewable resources in its articulation. Although efforts have been taken to increase the use of sustainable materials the vast majority of the building sector still relies heavily on depletable resources. This article debates that the most fundamental contributors to sustainable development are the evaluation and incorporation of inhabitant capacities. Evaluating the available natural materials, inhabitant skills and tools could play a fundamental role in creating sustainable solutions. However, inhabitant capacity-models insufficiently cover all instrumental capacities into one model (both inhabitant and community). Therefore, this article describes: a framework for evaluating inhabitant capacities; how to map available resource capacities; how these capacities can be incorporated into sustainable housing development and planning. The framework was developed as a part of a support tool, which helps designers and engineers to evaluate inhabitant capacities. To describe the framework and support tool a rural Sub-Saharan community is used, as their capacities are relatively less complicated compared to a ‘western’ context. The article concludes that the framework shows great potential in reducing the use of unsustainable materials. Furthermore, that it could enable social sustainability by creating self-reliant and resilient communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-512
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers of Architectural Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Capacities
  • Resilient communities
  • Resource capacities
  • Self-reliance
  • Social sustainability


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