Achieving legitimacy: visual discourses in engineering design and green building code development

Written by esba

This paper examines the processes by which early alternative, green-oriented building codes – namely those for straw bale building – were created. It compares these with the visual processes in industrial design work. The comparison reveals clear parallels in the ways in which tacit and experiential knowledge is conveyed through visual representation. The study examines how straw bale building innovators in Arizona and New Mexico, US, used visual discourse to convey technical knowledge within their own building community, and how they used visual discourse in the form of historical documentation, illustrative sketches, and video footage to make a convincing case for their technique as a viable one for code officials, even though visual representations were not allowed in building standards, per se, at the time. The research methods used are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and discourse analysis.

Author: Kathryn Henderson


About the author


The European Straw Building Association is an independent European association, devoid of any profit making motive. The object of the Association is to promote and develop the use of straw, as a sustainable way of building in all the senses of the term “sustainable”: renewable, ecological, healthy, energy and climate efficient, social and economic.
The Association is a federation composed of organisations and people particularly concerned with the use of straw in buildings.