CCHU9001 Humanities
Designs on the Future: Sustainability of the Built Environment

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]

Course Description

[This Common Core course is run in ‘flipped classroom format’, i.e. the bulk of the course content is delivered on-line and classroom sessions are run in workshop format with a wide range of group activities and interactive exercises. For details, please visit]

The course examines a broad range of topics including: population and urbanization, materials resources, and societal systems such as transportation and public health to understand the modern conceptualization of ‘sustainable’ forms of development and how this has come about. It has been designed to inspire thinking about the way we should construct our living environments in future, in order to find the most sustainable balance.

Starting from 2016-17, the course has been offered in a ‘flipped classroom’ format. In their own time, students are required to watch 2 or 3 on-line course videos, review other on-line materials and to research issues, in preparation for the classroom session. The on-line components deliver the bulk of the course content. Classroom sessions are run in workshop format and engage students in a wide range of group activities and interactive exercises. Through discussion, reflection and application these help students to fully understand the content, explore contexts and interconnections, and actively apply the knowledge gained. On-line preparation and classroom sessions replace the lecture + tutorials used in previous course offerings. A description of the flipped classroom and student responses to in-class activites can be viewed at the TELI “Interactive Online Learning” website:

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the history of the built environment in relation to its physical and socio-cultural context, and to develop and articulate ideas about the relationship between human beings and our environment, as well as how our experiences and qualities are expressed in our constructions.
  2. Identify either prevailing ideas or philosophies about sustainable futures and evaluate the extent to which these influence, and are influenced by, the landscape and architecture of the built environment.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the concept of sustainable living environments, and be able to assess and discuss the values and responsibilities placed on humans as custodians of the environment.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Online course material 16
Reading / Self-study 36
Classroom sessions 20
Workshop / Review 4
Assessment: Reading responses 12
Assessment: Project assignments 40
Total: 128

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Critical writing 20
Participation in classroom activities 30
Assignments and presentation 50

Required Reading

The four set readings which the students are required to read and make a written response to, will be announced in the introduction session. The readings are on current issues and will be in a variety of media, but typically will be between 2000 and 5000 words each.

For example, the four readings for the 2013-14 course were taken from the following sources.

  • Brown, L. R. (2012). Full planet, empty plates: The new geopolitics of food scarcity. Earth Policy Institute. [Chap. 6]
  • HKSAR Government. (2013). A clean air plan for Hong Kong.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2013). China’s green long march: A study of renewable energy, environmental industry and cement sectors.
  • Vergragt, P. J. (2006). How technology could contribute to a sustainable world. Tellus Institute.

Recommended Reading

Students are encouraged to read more widely, outside these set readings, to gain a fuller understanding of each topic and the following texts are recommended for that purpose.

  • Blewitt, J. (2008). Understanding sustainable development. London: Earthscan.
  • Burdett, R., & Sudjic, D. (Eds.). (2008). The endless city. London: Phaidon Press.
  • Cronon, W. (1996). Uncommon ground: Rethinking the human place in nature. W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Graham, S. (2009). Disrupted cities: When infrastructure fails. Routledge.
  • Hall, P. (2002).  Cities of tomorrow: An intellectual history of urban planning and design in the twentieth century (3rd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. 
  • Jackson R. J. (2012).  Designing healthy communities. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Jacobs, J. (1993). The death and life of great American cities. New York: Modern Library. 
  • Loh, C. (2004). Forward. In T. Mottershead (Ed.), Sustainable development in Hong Kong (pp. xvii-xxii). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • McHarg, I. L. (1995). Design with nature (1st ed.).Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Rogers, P. P., Jalal, K. F., & Boyd, J. A. (2007). An introduction to sustainable development. London: Earthscan.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Mr M.R. Pryor
Division of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 3917 7961
Teacher(s) Contact
Mr M.R. Pryor
Division of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 3917 7961