SBE 2022: Sustainable Built Environments

22-30 March 2022

Houwhoek Hotel, Elgin-Grabouw Valley, Western Cape, South Africa

You are invited to join us



28 July 2021 Reflecting on sustainable built environments (Please register here)
29 September 2021 Practising for sustainable built environments
24 November 2021 Conceptualising future sustainable built environments


22 – 27 March 2022


28 – 30 March 2022 Three-day conference presentations: Focus on the Future - The Future is Now!

The School of Architecture and Spatial Design at STADIO is proud to be associated with the SBE conference. The School of Architecture and Spatial Design embraces ecosystem thinking, which is grounded in systems thinking, design thinking and an holistic approach, as underpinning structure for curricula, pedagogy and practice. In the design of habitable spaces – whether at the scale of a room, a building, a street, a neighbourhood, a town, or a whole region – nothing happens in isolation and everything is connected. The way we build, with what we build, how we grow our food, where we grow our food, our transport, how our society works, our education, our affluence – all aspects of our lives are intertwined. And all these aspects have an influence on our well-being and the long-term health and sustainability of our planet. Students at the School of Architecture and Spatial Design are encouraged to embrace and apply this thinking, which will contribute to them becoming well-rounded, progressive citizens who can play a part in the well-being of all in society. The vision of the School of Architecture and Spatial Design is to teach and practise from a socio-technical, regenerative perspective with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities, flexible participation options and strong connections to industry and the professions.

The Sustainable Built Environments conference has in the past proven to be a platform where sustainable and regenerative concepts, theories and applications are presented, discussed, and debated. The School of Architecture and Spatial design is delighted to host SBE 2022 and believes that the 2022 conference will be just as exciting as previous conferences.


22 – 27 March 2022

This practical course will combine permaculture/regenerative design and hand-building at a local school. The increase in temperatures, decrease in water availability as well as extreme weather events dictate that we generate a pragmatic implementation that will be of benefit to the school and the school community. Permaculture/regenerative design processes and principles will be used to determine the siting of buildings, earthworks and implementation before participants get their hands dirty. The school already has a small food production system, and we can strengthen the links between gardens and kitchen in our implementation.

A design competition will be hosted by the STADIO School of Architecture and Spatial Design, which will inform the design of the kitchen. The new kitchen will be constructed primarily from cob/adobe and will be built on the foundations of an existing kitchen structure that the school had started but not completed. The kitchen supports the National Schools Nutrition Programme. The current kitchen structure offers an ideal opportunity to marry natural and regenerative materials with existing materials. We will also be able to incorporate grey water design, passive solar strategies, and roof water collection systems.

The climatic context is one of increasing severity in drought/flood cycles and participants will be working on managing rain runoff with earthworks that support vegetation which in turn will cool and shade buildings. The plant guilds selected should eventually become self-managing perennial ecosystems that continue to develop and improve the microclimate around the school. There is potential for productive species to be included in the vegetation mix. These simple design approaches can be adapted to other contexts. Participants should leave the course armed with the right questions to ask in any context, as well as some simple skills and techniques for building climate resilience as well as awareness of regenerating landscape and building design.


28 – 30 March 2022

Have you heard of climate justice? Do you know how many climate refugees there already are? Do you understand the implications of climate migration for different regions? Feedback loops, urban heat islands, embodied carbon, eco-system restoration, ecological debt – how do these affect your work? If you are stopped on the street and asked for a detailed, step-by-step explanation of a particular environmental issue, can you provide it?

Resilience, restoration, regeneration, carbon neutral, embodied energy – these and similar terms slip off the tongue of every millennial. Ageism has entered the design debate with a vengeance and the youth are blaming everyone older than 35 for the climate mess that we are in. Whether this blame is justified or not, ignorance is not - “OK, Boomer!” It is time for established practitioners to up-skill themselves to be able to participate in current debates and influence the future.

The SBE 2022 conference addresses how we counteract the impact of the built environment on the planet and how we adapt to a changing climate, extreme weather, variable resources, social emergencies and biodiversity loss. What can we proactively relinquish or adapt from our current and past built solutions to achieve the transformative, regenerative change necessary? Our designs need to deal with both mitigation and adaptation.

Unlike most “green” conferences, SBE 2022 does not aim to sell you so-called “green” products or magic bullets that will instantly green wash your designs. SBE 2022 does not aim to showcase unattainable technological solutions dreamt up by international architects in lab coats or at computer screens. SBE 2022 aims to provide practical, down-to-earth viewpoints and approaches to equip you with better ways of working in the design and construction field. The intention is to equip delegates with the background knowledge to engage meaningfully in climate action and debate, whether professionally or otherwise.

In the regenerative design and hand-building course and in the conference, we will consider firstly what we may expect to happen in view of the climate and biodiversity emergency and secondly how we can and should deal with these expected changes. We will address these considerations through the lenses of the classic triumvirate of people, planet, profit, - re-interpreted through a more holistic lens, and linked to the regenerative design mantra of earth care, people care, fair share. Linked to this overarching perspective are the following three themes:

Earth, our future - regenerative design and construction
The world continues to design and build, causing increasing damage to the natural environment that sustains us. What can practitioners in the built environment professions do to turn around our negative impact on the planet’s biodiversity and climate? How can we connect the dots as innovative problem-solvers?

Humanity, the future - climate migration, food and water security
Can technology provide a short-term or long-term comprehensive solution for the for the food and water security problems that most people in the world face today. What are the challenges we face in this regard and what solutions are there? How can we achieve climate justice?

Confronting the future - creating action through advocacy and mobilisation for change
Brilliant proposals remain just that – proposals - unless there is political, institutional and financial support for implementation. Built environment professionals are notoriously ill-equipped to source such support. What could we do to change that?

The Times They Are A-Changin' -   Bob Dylan (1964)

Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam,
And admit that the waters around you have grown,
And accept it that soon, you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics, who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no telling who that it's namin’

For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin'

Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'

Come mothers and fathers all over the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get outta' the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'

The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
The first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'

For the times they are a-changin'