While in the USA several people refered to the concept of ‘regenerative design’, a term I had not heard used in Britain. Regenerative design is when the process of a build takes into full account the people and environment in which it is situated. It becomes regenerative when choices of which materials are used enable other renewable resources which might be depleted to recover. In other words by using appropriate materials it provides time for other renewable resources to regenerate. Such an approach intends to reduce waste and increase efficient use of resources. In this way it owes much to holistic understandings of the environment, and to the philosophy and practice of permaculture.
Akihan also defines it as “regenerative architecture, and the regenerative mode of thinking is to move beyond the linear throughput model of inputs-consumption-waste that characterize all of our current development. Beyond being zero energy or being carbon neutral, it is a fundamental repositioning of the question. Regenerative seeks to go beyond doing no harm – it is the co-evolution of human and natural systems, to design to actively heal the environment”. Thus it is a proactive and all encompassing approach to building design which argues that we can make a positive contribute to the environment.
If we were to adopt this approach we should think carefully not just about what renewable materials are local, but what supply is available. this is probably best understood in relation to the increasing use of wood in eco-building in Britain and our need to be careful to replenish it. As such it raises fundamental questions about our choices of build materials beyond simply what we might conceive as being ecological or natural.