This notion of regeneration – ‘rebirth’ or ‘renewal’ – has been variously applied in relation to the built environment and the communities it supports following major acts of devastation or when a prior condition had declined to an extent considered ripe for renewal – and, of course, where the commitment has been found to initiate rebuilding. The resulting transformed condition, while embodying traces from its prior condition, is infused with new aspirations and possibilities. Over the past years, however, regeneration has been garnering increasing interest as a means of reframing green building practices and, carrying with it, qualitatively different and broader connotations than that used previously.
This special issue of Building Research & Information explores the current theory and practice of ‘regenerative’ design as it applies to community planning and building design. Regenerative design, as used here, relates to approaches that support the co-evolution of human and natural systems in a partnered relationship. It is not the building that is ‘regenerated’ in the same sense as the self-healing and self-organizing attributes of a living system, but by the ways that the act of building can be a catalyst for positive change within the unique ‘place’ in which it is situated. Within regenerative development, built projects, stakeholder processes, and inhabitation are collectively focused on enhancing life in all its manifestations – human, other species, ecological systems – through an enduring responsibility of stewardship.