Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century  book cover
1st Edition

Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century

  • Available for pre-order on May 9, 2023. Item will ship after May 30, 2023
ISBN 9780367410223
May 30, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
176 Pages 127 B/W Illustrations

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USD $39.95

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Book Description

Reimagining Alternative Technology for Design in the 21st Century proposes a new approach to design that harnesses still-valuable alternative, traditional and abandoned technologies over the creation of new ones to address contemporary global concerns. It focuses on design concepts that reduce energy and material consumption to tackle issues such as climate change and pollution in industrialised economies.

The book takes the reader on a journey surveying different facets of human activity to identify concrete opportunities where underused and discarded technologies could be indispensable today. It critically addresses newer approaches to design and technology by comparing them to existing alternatives, unpacking examples including air-conditioning with smart thermostats, electric lighting, durable reusable products, domestic maintenance tools, and methods of transportation.

Written for practicing designers and students in industrial design, architecture, sustainable design, and human-centred design, this book provides new ideas and tools for creating more useful, energy-and-resource-efficient product designs and systems.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Alternative Technology for the 21st Century

Chapter 1: Why Should Alternative Technology be Reexamined?

Chapter 2: The Imperfect Renaissance of the American City Street: Sidewalks, Bicycles and Electric Surface Transit

Chapter 3: Passive Heating and Cooling: Alternatives and Complements to Air Conditioning

Chapter 4: Daylighting Vs. Electric Lighting

Chapter 5: The Energy Costs of Domestic Upkeep

Chapter 6: Return to Durable Design

Chapter 7: Reimagining Design with Traditional Materials

Chapter 8: Manual and Therefore Modern?

Chapter 9: Manufacturing with Water, Wind and Solar Energy

Chapter 10: Transporting Goods and People

Conclusion: Alternative Principles for Design in the 21st Century

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Brook S. Kennedy is an industrial designer and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, Arts and Design at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), USA. There his research focuses on topics in sustainable design, materials and biodesign. Prior to Virginia Tech he spent 15 years in full time practice, most recently as an Associate Director at Inclusive Design pioneer Smart Design in New York City, where he helped Fortune 500 clients and start-up companies embrace the value of human-centred design processes. He has been honored with numerous international design awards from the Industrial Design Society of America, iF, Red Dot (Best of the Best), Spark, EPDA and the Chicago Athenaeum among others. He holds more than 20 utility and design patents and has published and exhibited internationally.


"The age of buildings as ‘Machines For Living In’ is ending. We live in an increasingly unpredictable world. ‘Fit for Purpose’ building in the 21st century must cope with evermore extreme weather events, grid failures, finite natural resources and soaring costs of living. Buildings, and the products and furnishings inside them, must be Durable, Repairable and Adaptable. Alternative technologies re-connect people with the free, natural energy flows of the ecosystems they occupy, enabling them to do more for less, educating them to protect against and exploit those powerful flows where useful. This book is a great read for all who are keen to survive and thrive in a different future." 

Susan Roaf, Professor of Architectural Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, UK


"Sometimes the best idea is one that’s tried, true, and ready for a comeback. Kennedy makes a brilliant argument for innovative revivals of ideas, products, and goods whose time has once again come. A must-read for anyone looking for a more sustainable future!"

David Sax,  journalist based in Canada, and author of the best-selling book, Revenge of the Analog