UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shifting the ownership paradigm in the built environment : a regenerative approach to ownership and appropriation Velasco Fuentes, Carlos Felipe


The future of building design may need to go beyond ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ design approaches if it is to reverse the negative environmental effects of human development and urbanization. Regenerative development is an approach to building design that aims to enhance, rather than diminish, the social-ecological systems in which it is embedded by establishing ongoing mutually beneficial relations between humans and nature. This approach is deeply founded on an ecological (i.e., biocentric) worldview and, amongst other key concepts, considers the built environment as a network of complex interconnected and interdependent social-ecological systems. When considering interactions amongst social-ecological systems in the built environment, the notion of resource exchange is fundamental, and with it, a rethinking of the social institutions that influence and/or determine how resource is exchanged – including the concept of ownership. Notions such as ownership, property, and appropriation are social constructs that influence human interactions and the way they relate to their natural environment. Many suggest the reason why standardized governance institutions fail to adequately address today’s major social and environmental challenges in modern industrialized societies is perhaps related to a mechanistic (i.e., anthropocentric) view of the world. In this worldview, the complexity embedded in the concept of ownership is often reduced to its economic understanding. An alternate anthropological conceptualization focuses on evolving human and natural property relations, and holds important intellectual value for the design of regenerative building systems. The objective of this thesis is to develop greater understanding to the role of ownership in the built environment, and particularly in the design of regenerative building systems and the advance towards regenerative sustainability in social-ecological systems. This thesis explores the institutional ownership framework and socio-ecological conditions that enabled the realization of the Centre for Interactive Research in Sustainability, a relevant example of a building project incorporating regenerative development principles located at the University of British Columbia. Results suggest that a shift towards a ‘relational’ ownership paradigm in the built environment will require a set of institutional, methodological, practical and value-based adaptations, resulting in fundamental changes to a building’s project boundaries, connectivity, and potential for resource exchange.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada