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A framework to guide eco-cultural interior design in adaptive reuse


As the current efforts of sustainability in the built environment shift in focus from the environment to including aspects of health and wellbeing, equity, diversity, and inclusion, there is a need to understand how these aspects connect to the concept of eco-cultural design and the role of the interior designer. This qualitative study explores the ways in which interior design has potential to contribute to eco-cultural design especially within the context of adaptive reuse. The conceptual framework for this study is informed by the concept of eco-cultural design and the coinciding assessment framework proposed by Qtaishat et al. (2020). The indicators within the main categories of the original framework were adjusted to focus on aspects that relate specifically to interior design. Purposive sampling and the content analysis of design firm websites were used to identify professionals working at the intersection of adaptive reuse, interior design, and sustainability. Nine professionals participated in open-ended, semi-structured interviews to discuss their lived experiences with interior design and adaptive reuse and how sustainability and aspects of ecocultural design are understood in the industry. The qualitative coding techniques of open coding and a priori themes were used to explore the applicability of the conceptual framework for practice, and the ways in which the roles of the interior designer relate to the different categories of eco-cultural design. The participants' experiences and insights informed the refinement of the conceptual framework toward a guideline for Eco-Cultural Interior Design, including the roles interior design professionals might play from pre-design through project administration. The findings suggest there are already efforts being made in the industry regarding aspects of eco-cultural design. However, due to the overwhelming number of terms and concepts that exist relating to sustainability, interior designers lack the language to clearly communicate with clients the value of considering aspects of eco-cultural design. The findings also suggest that the framework is more impactful when used to guide interior designers as they move through the design process, rather than as another building rating system. Instead, it may be better used to provoke critical thought regarding how to consider all dimensions of sustainability during interior design and adaptive reuse. In addition, there is potential for interior designers to have the most impact on the eco-cultural sustainability in the pre-design phases of the design process, demonstrating the importance of involving them from the start. The main contribution of this study is therefore the development of a framework to guide eco-cultural interior design in practice.


2023 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.

Rights Access

Embargo expires: 08/28/2025.


cultural sustainability
interior design
eco-cultural design
adaptive reuse


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