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WAF keynote: Architects labelled ‘number one cause of global warming'

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Spanish architect and net zero carbon advocate Enric Ruiz Geli of Cloud 9 has called on the profession to design out climate change

Enric Ruiz Geli of Cloud 9 architects admonished the profession in his keynote address at WAF in Singapore, calling on architects to accept responsibility for global warming and set the agenda for a sustainable future.

‘Buildings and cities are the number one cause of global warming,’ Geli told a packed room of delegates, which included architects from over 60 different countries. ‘We are the designers of buildings; we are the designers of cities; therefore we are the number one cause of global warming.

Geli, who won WAF’s World Building of the Year award in 2011 for his Media-Tic carbon neutral building in Barcelona, used examples of his built projects to explain how architects can design out climate change through innovation.

‘At Media-Tic we acheived a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions on a building built for the market price. The Kyoto agreement calls for a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. If we all build 60 per cent more efficient buildings, they will perhaps finally pass Kyoto. This level of innovation makes us dangerous. I think we should be dangerous. We could change things.’

The technical inventions employed at Media-Tic include a computer-controlled facade of ETFE cushions which automatically inflate with Nitrogen gas to form a translucent UV screen, mitigating solar gain.

Geli also showed new technology he is developing with commercial partners for a carbon neutral building outside Barcelona for world famous molecular chef Ferran Adria of the El Bulli Foundation. Technological innovations include photovoltaic EFTE cushions, octopus robots that grow micro-algae and bio sensors on trees that control the temperature of the building.

‘Our office has more patents than buildings,’ Geli told the delegates of WAF today. ‘We are a knowledge factory in knowledge economy. Patent your work, and share your knowledge’

‘Are we interested in global warming, or are we interested only in our fees?’ Geli said.

Geli’s speech, which was followed by an interview with host Murray Fraser, was a last-minute stand in for Wolf Prix, who took ill and was forced to cancel his keynote address.


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