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Video: ‘It’s architects who manage resources: we choose what we build buildings out of’


Duncan Baker-Brown, the architect and circular economy expert, explains how architects can develop a crucial new role in tackling the climate emergency through reuse of natural resources

Keynote speech at the AJ100 Gala Dinner, 19 June 2019


Readers' comments (4)

  • This is an inspiring call to action by Duncan with important ideas that we can adopt individually and at a wider community level. I love the concept of 'mining the Anthropocene'. Duncan points to the futuristic deconstruction and re-use work of RotorDC in Belgium (see rotordc.com and the parent organisation, rotorb.org). Could RIBA promote this idea at government and regional level; advocating support for a UK version of RotorDC? Perhaps the Mayor of London or Bristol or Manchester for example could be supported or persuaded to create an equivalent organisation as a meaningful way of addressing the climate emergency? And yes, even with a UK RotorDC, we should all be strongly advocating retrofit; only destroying existing buildings as a last resort, and trying to demonstrate the case for retrofit to our clients – in particular to avoid destroying the precious concrete foundations and frames that already exist. The Paris tower block retrofit is inspiring, as is Duncan's own project on the south downs. If you agree, please sign Harry Paticas’ petition to government to remove the VAT tax from retrofit since this tax just fuels demolition by skewing the financial advantage of VAT-free new-build. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/264073

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  • Nice try Duncan, but no cigar I’m afraid, as it is all too little too late now. We have passed peak oil and continue to rely on fossil fuels. If we had tried a concerted effort 50 years ago, at the time of that energy crisis, we may have had a chance. Jimmy Carter, God bless him, had a good go, but look at the Whitehouse now.

    We now have to accept the inevitability of human extinction and try and bow out gracefully. Let’s at least leave some evidence of intelligence on earth, for the advanced alien archaeologists who shift through the wreckage of our failed so-called civilisation.

    Those in any doubt of the hopelessness of the situation should view the documentary film “Collapse” (2010), not to mention the factional film “Vice” (2019). Bear in mind that Dick Cheney has a daughter called Liz, who inherited his seat in Congress. They will be in Iran before Christmas for the remaining drops of oil.

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  • I'm not in the position to give up on humankind and the ecosystems we are currently destroying. I believe we will lose a lot of amazing stuff, but the natural world constantly bounces back given half a chance...... and I think we owe it to younger people not to give up. Imagine being 10 years old and hearing you (Number five?), David Chipperfield et al saying that the situation is hopeless. Step up I say....

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  • Get real, mate, it is all over and you are part of the problem and not the solution. The best thing you could do is retire and build nothing more. There is no such thing as a sustainable building, every new one is adding to the problem that will ensure human extinction. To quote Greta Thunberg (16), you are shitting on that hypothetical 10-year old’s future. Yes, nature will bounce back, after we are extinct. Stop lying to your children, I say.

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