A Lighter Shade of Green: The concept of Bounded Space as an influence on sustainability in architecture

Open Access
Clouse, Carol Louise
Graduate Program:
Master of Architecture
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
October 08, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Jawaid Haider, Thesis Advisor
  • dwelling
  • sustainability
  • nature
  • bounded space
  • essential elements
  • carrying capacity
  • diversity
  • community
  • Native American
Sustainable approaches within the discipline of architecture are largely oriented toward a building’s energy considerations and physical attributes, and often do not delve into the human experiential essence of dwelling. Environmentally conscious “green” building strategies focus on the construction and the operational aspects of the physical structure, often neglecting the significance of the ethereal aspects of the human being’s relationship with the earth. It is the human being’s perspective of themselves in this world, and their relationship to the essential life elements of the earth, that hold the key to a “lighter shade” of sustainable application in architecture. In looking to Native American philosophies of dwelling as a source of influence, this research navigated toward the intriguing writings of Viola F. Cordova (a philosopher of Jicarilla-Apache descent), and specifically to her concept of Bounded Space. The qualities and attributes of Bounded Space dwelling include aspects of community, awareness, individual perspective, diversity, and ultimately an intimate relationship between the human being and the land upon which he/she dwells. Through the research and examination of Cordova’s theories, interspersed with extrapolations from varied philosophical perspectives, a set of principles for Bounded Space dwelling was developed for application in architectural design constructs. Three case studies, representational of current projects of laudable achievement in sustainable building design, were selected and then evaluated based on Bounded Space principles. The relationship of the individual to the group and the group’s relationship to the place of dwelling, defines the core principle of Bounded Space dwelling. By exploring the determining qualities of Bounded Space dwelling, this research attempts to provide a complimentary and enriching approach to sustainable application in architectural design criteria; an approach which looks beyond architecture as art or object - or high performance eco-machines - into a more ‘participatory’ aspect of architecture and human dwelling.