Comparing Architects’ Perceptions of the Usefulness of Digital Design Environments with their Aspirations for Sustainable Design in Australia


  • Rongrong Yu Griffith University
  • Michael J. Ostwald



sustainable design practice, sustainable design digital tools, architectural design practice


This paper uses a combined method – survey and semi-structured interviews – to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of digital design environments for supporting architects’ sustainable design practices. In most contemporary firms, architects’ sustainable design aspirations are reliant on the use digital design tools and associated computational platforms. Past research, however, suggests that a level of uncertainty exists about whether these tools and platforms are sufficient for this purpose. To investigate this issue in an Australian context, architects were invited to take part in an online survey to identify general trends and perceptions, leading to a series of semi-structured interviews, to analyse the issues in detail. The survey results (n = 70) suggest that despite considering sustainable design an important objective in their design practice, participants believe that digital design tools require further development and improvement. Detailed interviews (n = 15) then identified specific factors affecting the usefulness of digital design tools. These results enhance our understanding of Australian architects’ experiences using digital design tools. It also contributes to improving the tools that support sustainable design practices throughout the architectural, engineering and construction industry.