A central theoretical principle of sustainability is the interdependence of economic, socio-cultural, environmental, and equity issues. The core idea is that sustainability is achieved only by balancing these elements. In practice, however, this balance is rarely evidenced in the design and production of housing, despite the mass of research into sustainable housing. This paper discusses some of the political, economic and socio-cultural issues at work in sustainable housing typologies. It illustrates how the notion of sustainability has come to be represented by ecologically-focused models, while other approaches to sustainable housing design, such as shared housing models, are barely mentioned in the literature. The paper argues that modernist imperatives, such as demands for speed and status undermine sustainable housing design and obscure its meaning. The authors suggest that in the planning and design of sustainable housing attention should be given to the sharing of resources and space as an added method of conservation, and conclude that current imbalances in research agendas and socio-cultural practices create a blind spot in the sustainable housing debate.

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