This understands the exercise of sustainability and sustainable design from recognition of the value of culture as an agent that characterizes both the social and physical environment –natural and built. The physical environment is the heritage, buildings, natural resources, geography, metabolism, biodiversity … The social environment are the lifestyles, ways of living, local knowledge, celebrations, traditions, symbols, myths and beliefs … We are talking about collective subjectivity as a great value for development. However, cultural sustainability also defends the expressions of individual subjectivity: creativity, diversity, freedom of expression ultimately.
For this reason, this understanding of sustainability not only involves recognizing how culture has shaped both the physical and social environment -as a first principle of efficiency because it leverages the existing and learns from what has been learned – but also, and especially, ensures freedom of expression of any individual or group in any format as well as “universal access to culture and its manifestations, (…) to information and resources.” In other words, it understands that the new should not be built on nothing but contextualized in the cultural framework that houses it, not only recognizing the value of existing expressions of subjectivity but encouraging new collective, individual, etc. modes
So this sustainability advocates IDENTITY as one of the main concepts on which to build sustainable development: not only from the enhancement of existing identity -embodied in the physical and social- but from the promotion of new individual and collective identities. This means, first, an economy of means and resources and, second, amplification and consolidation of cultural values.
In this sense, a culturally sustainable action discovers, first, and uses then all tangible and intangible assets of the CONTEXT in which it operates: placing value on the natural, human or nonhuman built heritage or reappropriating it even to the extent of deciding not to intervene, learning of existing knowledge and ways of doing characteristic of a group or community that facilitate the implementation of any action, recognizing that people behave and formulate their dreams, desires, frustrations and beliefs both individually and collectively in very different ways …
In short, a culturally sustainable action encourages society to recognize and identify itself with it. Thus, a society that loves and respects both the human and social, and the natural and built environment in which it lives – because it recognizes itself with them- is a more prepared, conscious, informed, free society, caring, involved, etc. to take on other issues of sustainable development – “social inclusion, economic growth and environmental balance.” (Brundtland Report)
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