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What has Architects Declare achieved?

ArchitectsDeclare Index
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A new survey of AJ readers suggests most of the 900-plus practices which have signed up believe it has changed their business. But is this really the ‘paradigm shift’ the movement calls for?

A year ago, Architects Declare was born when some of the most influential architecture practices in the UK joined forces to demand the profession take action on the ‘twin crises’ of climate change and biodiversity loss.

ArchitectsDeclare Survey M1

This ambitious initiative, driven by its 17 Stirling Prize-winning founders, followed similar moves – including direct action by Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency – and called for immediate and urgent change to drive down carbon emissions and move towards ‘regenerative design’.

The movement’s 11 far-reaching pledges, which also include sharing knowledge on climate mitigation and prioritising refurbishment in line with the AJ’s own RetroFirst campaign, have had an electrifying effect on the profession here and around the world. To date, the pledges have been signed by almost 1,000 architects and practices in Britain and have inspired spin-off declarations in more than 20 other countries.

The pledges demand a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way practices design and work and even require architects to reappraise the schemes already on their books. Simply signing up is not enough. As Rogers Stirk Harbour senior design partner Ivan Harbour said at its launch, architects ‘now need to go much further, much faster’.

‘The work we take on as architects today will endure for the next half-century and beyond,’ he said. ‘To combat this emergency now we must reset the objectives, with our clients and the industry, if we are to help safeguard the future for all.’ It is unsurprising then, especially given the media attention sparked by Architects Declare, that accusations of hypocrisy have already been levelled at some of the founding signatories who don’t appear to be ‘walking the walk’ 12 months’ on.

So what impact has Architects Declare actually had? Does it need a system to police the actions of those who have signed up to make it effective and protect its reputation? And, after its first year of operation, how should the movement now evolve?

The birth of a major new sustainability movement

ArchitectsDeclare Survey M3

The rapid growth of Architects Declare has undoubtedly been impressive. Steve Tompkins of Haworth Tompkins, who founded Architects Declare alongside fellow architect Michael Pawlyn, admitted the ‘speed and breadth and diversity’ of those who have signed up had exceeded his ‘wildest expectations’.

He said: ‘When we first started, I thought 500 signatories would be a real result. We’re almost at double that in the UK alone and nearly 10 times that across 22 or 23 countries around the world.’

Data from recent AJ100 research shows that three-quarters of the nation’s largest practices have now signed up.

An independent AJ online survey on Architects Declare launched at the end of May and completed by nearly 250 people has now shed light on how it is viewed and why practice bosses have or have not signed up.

One respondent signatory said: ‘It felt important to make a pledge to help embody the principles of the declaration in how the practice works. It has helped the studio be more mindful.’

Another said: ‘Some of us within the practice have been trying to promote sustainability, with limited results. There was, however, a feeling that the industry was changing. When the practice noticed many of our peers were signing up, it was felt it was the right thing to do.’

But other survey participants were equally candid about why they had not yet joined Architects Declare.

One said: ‘We didn’t want to sign up until we could guarantee that we could deliver on all the points. Some were beyond our control for commercial reasons, and we respect that it’s an action list, not a “nice to have” list.’

Another remarked that, before taking the leap and committing to the pledges, their company planned to ‘change our behaviour and our portfolio first’.

However, many respondents said they had no intention of ever signing up to the ‘slightly empty initiative’; some even criticised those who had. One described the whole initiative as ‘useless virtue-signalling’. Another said that, because Architects Declare was ‘not based on a structure of practical principles to be adhered to’, it was therefore ‘too easy to sign up to, and too easy to renege on’.

The behaviour of some of those 17 founding practices also appears to have deterred several potential signatories.

ArchitectsDeclare Survey M2

In recent months, the AJ has reported on several controversies over projects by founding signatories which observers say are incompatible with the promises made by Architects Declare. These include new airport schemes by Grimshaw, ZHA and Foster + Partners, a huge new office complex in Shanghai by ZHA and the Silvertown road tunnel project in London involving dRMM Architects.

All have sparked incredulity among observers and dRMM in particular has faced fierce and ongoing criticism in recent weeks. While co-leader of the Green Party Siân Berry suggested the practice had broken its promises by ‘getting involved in building a toxic urban motorway tunnel’, practice co-founder Alex de Rijke responded by acknowledging the practice was ‘challenged’ about its involvement, adding that dRMM had taken the decision to be involved ‘in order to try to make the project more sustainable’.

Such controversies have not gone unnoticed and appear to have given Architects Declare a growing credibility problem.

As one respondent commented: ‘We could not sign up to Architects Declare, as we felt that there was profound hypocrisy in some of the high-profile signatories having done so while simultaneously announcing projects which went against everything it seemed to be advocating.’

Duncan Baker-Brown of BBM Sustainable Design, a pioneer in low-carbon and circular economy design, believes Architects Declare can still achieve its overall objective but reckons it is now in ‘a difficult place’, not least because some practices are saying one thing and doing another.

‘What is the point of signing up unless you are serious? Otherwise you are humiliating yourself’

‘It was amazing that they came together to do this but what has happened next is a bit strange,’ he said. ‘What is the point of signing up unless you are serious? Otherwise you are humiliating yourself.’ 

How has signing up to Architects Declare changed your practice?

Despite its problems, the AJ’s survey also shows that many of those who have joined Architects Declare believe their declaration had tangibly altered the way their practice thinks and works. For example, just over half of respondents (52 per cent) agreed that signing up had changed their day-to-day business. 

A separate survey of its own signatories carried out by Architects Declare involving 149 respondents is even more positive, with 80 per cent saying their practice had ‘significantly’ or ‘somewhat’ adjusted their approach to projects post-declaration.

At a practical level, the information provided to the AJ’s poll reveals a raft of new measures introduced by firms post-declaration to meet the main commitments. These include: setting up new ‘green teams’ and employing new heads of sustainability; providing more training, particularly in Passivhaus; introducing embodied and in-use calculations for all projects; widening research into carbon; and ‘saying no to airports’.   

ArchitectsDeclare Survey L1

ArchitectsDeclare Survey L1

It has also resulted in some robust conversations with those paying the bills. One respondent says: ‘We went back to a client on a project, which has planning but is on hold, to try and persuade them to change the structural system from concrete and steel to either engineered timber or a hybrid system.’    

Yet the survey also suggests that, despite the urgency demanded by Architects Declare, the required root-and-branch transformation of the profession is not happening fast enough. Numerous respondents said it was too early to say what impact Architects Declare was having on existing methods of design and delivery. One said: ‘After signing last summer we are still trying to embed our commitment into working practices. So, has it changed the way we work to date? Not massively. Will it change the way we work? Absolutely.’

And not every respondent is convinced that joining Architects Declare has shifted behaviours at their practices. Numerous commentators suggested it seemed like ‘business as usual’ at their firm. As one said: ‘Signing up is mere lip-service, a pitch point to get more work in and butter clients up.’

Another added: ‘It makes the practice look like it is doing something, even if in reality it isn’t.’ 

How hard is it to stick to the 11 commitments?

According to Architects Declare’s own survey, 71 per cent of those who took part claimed they could either mostly or completely meet the commitment points.

The AJ asked the question slightly differently: ‘How often has your practice done things which have broken the Architects Declare pledges?’ 

Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) said either ‘frequently’ or ‘very frequently’, with a further 30 per cent saying ‘occasionally’. Only 13 per cent said they never did anything in breach of the commitments.

Some architects admit they are still not integrating the pledges into their day-to-day practices.

A common response is that firms will only be able to really deliver on these promises on future projects. One respondent said: ‘Carbon zero has to be embedded into the early stages of jobs. So those on site now and in late design phases can’t really comply retrospectively.’

Another said: ‘You cannot expect individuals or practices to change systemic and structural problems overnight.’ 

But an overnight or at least fairly immediate transformation is what Architects Declare has called for. Ian Taylor, managing partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios admits the urgency demanded by this and, similarly, by the RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge, will be tough.

He said: ‘If local authorities are saying there is a climate emergency and they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030, is the industry set up to deliver?  

‘It often takes three years after a building is completed to actually [make it] meet the targets. So you have to have a building that’s finished in 2027 in order to tweak it to make it work in 2030. 

‘This means starting on site in 2025, so we have to be detailing it in 2023.’ To get to that point, zero-carbon commitments need to be embedded in designs now. ‘And that’s all a bit frightening,’ Taylor added.

‘Breaking the pledges is inevitable until legislation is put in place to force the industry and clients to do better’

For many architects, it seems, only governmental demands will really achieve that paradigm shift. 

As one respondent said: ‘Breaking the pledges is inevitable until legislation is put in place to force the construction industry and clients to do better with regard to embodied and operating carbon.’

The post-occupancy problem

One pledge is harder to meet than all others, according to both the AJ’s and Architects Declare’s surveys – to include ‘whole-life carbon modelling and post-occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work’.According to the Architects Declare survey, just 7 per cent of signatories said they were able to ‘completely meet this commitment’.

The AJ poll asked how often practices which had signed up revisited their schemes to conduct any kind of post-occupancy research.

ArchitectsDeclare Survey XL

 

Just 9 per cent responded that they went back to every scheme and a shocking 11 per cent said they never carried out post-occupancy work. One respondent even claimed their insurers ‘would not let them’ undertake post-occupancy evaluations. 

However, a common complaint was that clients – especially large housebuilders – were not willing to shell out for work regarded as outside the scope of the architect’s remit.

One said: ‘It is very difficult to get client buy-in. Plus, clients are not interested in paying for these reviews – they do not have fees attached and so do not get done.’

What has been the wider impact of Architects Declare?

Predictably there was a marked difference in how signatories and non-signatories taking part in the AJ’s survey perceived the movement’s level of success.

Among those backing Architects Declare, nearly half (45 per cent) said they thought it had ‘had a significant impact on the profession and wider construction industry’.

As one unnamed signatory said: ‘Without Architects Declare, it is very unlikely that 935 practices would have all individually felt able or willing to commit to such radical change. 

ArchitectsDeclare Survey L3

‘[It] has elevated whole-life carbon, post-occupancy evaluation and the whole paradigm shift to the mainstream discourse in the industry.’    

Another said it had ‘catapulted discussions years forward from where they were’. 

But Architects Declare’s refuseniks are not convinced.  Only 11 per cent thought it had changed attitudes and behaviours in the industry. A huge majority (69 per cent) stated that it hadn’t made any difference.

One commentator said: ‘It’s all just for show. Everyone knows it’s PC virtue-signalling for a few true believers, while everyone just gets on with business. Nobody will criticise it, though.’ Another added: ‘Given that one of the initial signatories has taken up work on a massive transport project with high embedded and operational emissions, the declaration appears meaningless.’

No naming and shaming

A quarter of those who had not signed up to Architects Declare said it had not done enough to lobby government and police its signatories. In fact, when the same respondents were asked ‘What do you think Architects Declare could do to improve its impact?’, 58 per cent said it should start checking whether its signatories were abiding by the pledges and nearly half (47 per cent) said they should expel those found to have broken their commitments. However, its leaders are adamant they would never ‘name and shame’ practices – even if they had the resources to (see Q&A below).

It is a position which seems to be backed up by those who have signed up. ‘A declaration is about getting people to declare, I don’t see why it should be anything else,’ said one signatory. ‘Architects haven’t signed up to a standard and the pledges aren’t really clearly defined enough to allow for them to be policed.’

ArchitectsDeclare Survey L2

Where now for Architects Declare? Has it succeeded?

Responses to both surveys suggest that, over the next 12 months, the profession wants Architects Declare to do more lobbying and to try and exert influence beyond architects.

Commentators have also called on it to do more to talk to its members. As one respondent said: ‘Architects Declare has to communicate better. We are a signatory and have absolutely no idea what is going on.’

‘Architects Declare has to communicate better. We are a signatory and have absolutely no idea what is going on’

The leaders of the movement seem to have got these messages in recent weeks and have promised to be more vocal on both fronts. Indeed, this week Architects Declare (as part of Construction Declares) along with Architects’ Climate Action Network (ACAN) and London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) have jointly written to the government offering ‘practical ideas and expertise to support an economic recovery that protects public health and addresses climate targets.’

So, ultimately, has Architects Declare been a success? The jury is out, it seems. Those asked by the AJ are split almost equally. While 23 per cent agree that it has, 22 per cent disagree. And exactly half of all those polled thought it was too early to tell.

‘We have a long way to go,’ wrote one respondent. ‘Getting signatories is one thing. But ensuring every signatory is achieving the goals in a collaborative tour de force is the next big step.’

 

Profile

dRMM

It is hard to imagine a project so wholly in conflict with Architects Declare’s purpose than a massive new concrete tunnel for cars, trucks and buses under The Thames.

Yet it recently emerged that dRMM, one of Architects Declare’s founding signatories, was working on the proposed £1.2 billion Silvertown traffic tunnel (albeit designing the entrance portals and footbridges). Unsurprisingly, the practice came in for heavy criticism for its perceived hypocrisy. 

How could dRMM, after having pledged to reduce embodied and operational resource use and to scrutinise all new projects to ensure they ‘contributed positively to mitigating climate breakdown’, justify its role on the carbon-guzzling scheme?

It is understood that the project was on the firm’s books prior to its signing up to Architects Declare and practice co-founder Alex de Rijke  (pictured below) insists that, by being involved at Silvertown, the firm could make the huge infrastructure project ‘more sustainable’.  

Source: Jim Stephenson

He tells the AJ: ‘Given our long history of sustainable projects, including many pioneering timber projects, it feels like dRMM is an easy rather than accurate target [here].

‘In fact, this project has made us even more determined to make a positive difference, not just to individual building design, but to construction industry paradigms and mindsets.’

Asked whether he thought that similar actions by the movement’s leading lights would demean the wider goals of Architects Declare and undermine the initiative’s credibility, de Rijke added: ‘Change is never immediate in a market economy coupled with unprogressive legislation and culture of precedent. Every signatory will be doing whatever they can to make changes on their existing projects, lobbying government on building regulations and planning strategies, and avoiding untenable new projects.’

The accusations of double standards at Silvertown overshadow a year of change for the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning practice.

As well as a strategic shift in how it tackles carbon reduction in architecture, de Rijke explains that on a day-to-day level the practice has thrown ‘resources towards research and upskilling in-house as a direct response to becoming a signatory and wanting to live up to the declaration commitments we have signed up to.’ The 25-year-old practice has also pumped more of its efforts into carbon modelling on both ‘past and present’ projects. 

Perhaps when the designs for Silvertown are revealed later this year, the profession will be able to judge for itself just how much of a difference dRMM has been able to make. RW

 

Profile

Zaha Hadid Architects

For all its sustainability know-how, including working up plans for the world’s first timber football stadium in Gloucestershire, Zaha Hadid Architects is probably the Architects Declare founding signatory which has appeared furthest away from meeting its promises over the past 12 months.

With its speciality of creating curving and swooping mega-projects around the world which rely heavily on carbon-hungry concrete, steel and glass, this is perhaps unsurprising. But winning a £2.9 billion new airport scheme in Sydney last October and then unveiling a £2.6 billion office complex in Shanghai (pictured below), which it nevertheless claimed would be the ‘greenest’ building in the city, has not helped convince anyone that ZHA is committed to the cause and principles of Architects Declare.

The Shanghai project – a 218,000m² mixed-use campus which includes three huge office towers as well as the re-use and renovation of a 1930s sugar factory – even provoked Architects Declare co-founder Steve Tompkins to speak out after the project was unveiled last month, asking in vain for the practice to provide ‘quantifiable detail on why this scheme can claim to be a “green” exemplar in terms of whole-life carbon’.

Simon Sturgis, the former chair of the RIBA sustainability group, was less diplomatic, saying the project ‘failed significantly in response to the climate crisis’.

Perhaps aware of its status, ZHA declined to be interviewed by the AJ, instead providing a statement from a spokesperson, which said it recognised its responsibilities and was ‘working to have this conversation with every client’.

The spokesperson added: ‘We work with many different clients in different parts of the world – each with different cultures and regulatory frameworks – so outcomes will be varied. But we are engaging all of our clients in this critical discussion.

‘We have also undertaken a review of our portfolio and developed a low-carbon strategy, including establishing in-house support to enable us to understand how well we are performing and where we can do better. 

‘Working towards a specific and measured overview of our portfolio and practice, we are aiming to classify all our completed and ongoing projects against benchmarks and targets that include embodied energy, post-occupancy surveys, energy in use, etc.’

The spokesperson added that ZHA had recently calculated the embodied carbon in its recent Generali Tower in Milan and Leeza SOHO tower in Beijing against two unnamed landmark commercial office towers in London as a reference. This appeared to show the ZHA projects outperforming the London towers, while falling short of RIBA net zero targets for 2025 and 2030. WH

Source: Negativ

Profile

Russian for Fish

This three-person practice, based in east London’s Bethnal Green, does not have to agonise about whether to take on a major skyscraper or a new airport.  

‘We’re quite lucky,’ says Pereen d’Avoine, a founding director of the practice. ‘Most of our work is refurbishment and it always has been.’ She adds: ‘London’s existing housing stock accounts for a big percentage of emissions [in the capital], so we feel we can do our part to help make them more efficient.’  

That isn’t always possible. With small projects come small spaces, small budgets and clients who do not necessarily want to compromise for a greener solution.  

‘Sadly a lot of this sustainability stuff, like insulation and water-use, is hidden. People want to spend money on things they can see,’ says d’Avoine. The practice has therefore looked at cutting carbon through more visible measures, such as sustainable materials.

Russian for Fish re-uses materials such as floorboards, where possible, and recently persuaded a client to maintain an in-situ concrete staircase. It also specifies commercially made recycled materials, such as Altrock – a product made in nearby Leyton from off-cuts of marble. 

The practice tries to work with businesses that operate locally to a given site, thus reducing traffic emissions.  

There are, however, some elements of the Architects Declare commitments which the practice has yet to address. ‘Post-occupancy analyses are not something we have done,’ admits d’Avoine. ‘It’s probably something we should adopt.’ Another unmet pledge, which the practice is less likely to fulfil, is whole-life carbon modelling. ‘For the projects we’re doing now, we are just not at the right scale,’ she says. 

But the practice is having a hard look at embodied carbon. It recently invited a local fabricator, Cake Industries, to provide CPD on the embodied energy of different staircases and other products. 

Ultimately, the biggest obstacle to reducing carbon and following the Architects Declare pledges is clients, says d’Avoine.  

‘We work a lot in central London where space is not abundant, so when you ask clients to lose 200mm off a floor dimension so they can insulate their walls, that is a tricky conversation to have,’ she says. ‘But the more awareness there is, the easier those conversations get.’ WI

Profile

Pozzoni

Damian Utton, the director responsible for sustainability at Manchester-based Pozzoni Architects (pictured left), says that signing up to Architects Declare has ‘focused our minds’.

‘I wouldn’t say we’ve changed radically [since signing up], it’s more a case of evolving gradually,’ he says.

New initiatives at the firm, which works on residential, education, leisure and commercial projects, include trying to measure the carbon footprint of every scheme and investing in training to support this activity.

Such upskilling is now a key focus for Architects Declare as it seeks to help signatories deliver on their pledges and Utton has been making use of the workshop videos on its website.

‘There have been quite a few webinars on zero carbon, some from M&E consultants like Cundall,’ he says. ‘But it would be more user-friendly if Architects Declare produced fact sheets.’

While Utton acknowledges there is a question mark over the speed with which practices like his are responding to climate emergency, he insists Pozzoni is taking its pledges seriously.

‘We have a job at the moment which is confidential but is a 1960s housing estate in the North for a local authority,’ he says. ‘The local authority has declared climate emergency but wants to knock down the estate. So we’ve said they must look seriously at refurbishing it. We’re saying “hold on a minute”.’

The practice is involved in the demolition and rebuild of the Westhorpe Gardens estate in north London – but says it was unable to refurbish this housing because of its poor condition, which included corroded concrete frames, damp penetration and leaking roofs.

Utton is also keen to point to progress Pozzoni has made on post-occupancy evaluation.

He says: ‘We’ve always gone back to revisit our buildings a year or so after completion to see how they’re working, but it has been quite informal. This is something we’re now looking to formalise so we can measure the hard data.’ WH

Profile

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Peter Clegg (pictured left), whose practice was a founding signatory of Architects Declare, admits that FCBS has not been able to meet all its 11 key commitments – a tough set of aspirational goals which Clegg actually helped to draft. However, he says, the advent of Architects Declare has started an ‘enlightenment’ at the firm, including a shift towards regenerative design – ‘going beyond zero-carbon and contributing back in some way.

But the biggest challenge, says Clegg, is what ‘we make our buildings out of’. This is something FCBS is researching: ‘How the hell do you find a substitute for concrete? It is by far the biggest gas-guzzling bit of the building. And what will happen if they stop us using timber structurally?’ Clegg is referring to the government’s potential ban on combustible materials following the Grenfell fire tragedy.

Practical steps triggered by Architects Declare include the creation of a 10-year route map to help FCBS meet 2030 targets and the introduction of an Early Stage Carbon Tool, which records summaries of embodied energy, operational energy, whole-life carbon and offsetting options for every scheme. 

In terms of post-occupancy evaluation, FCBS admits it only properly revisits about half its schemes, but it is now developing an energy tracker database with Max Fordham which plots energy assumptions against actual use. It hopes to share this dataset soon.

There have been internal debates, too, about whether the Architects Declare pledges can be reconciled with some ongoing schemes. For instance, Clegg ponders how a commitment to ‘contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown points’ squares with a bid for a new suburb of Kigali in Rwanda on a ‘beautiful’ untouched hillside. 

Looking at this holistically, Clegg believes it is justified because of Rwanda’s breakneck speed of urbanisation which, he believes, can be less environmentally damaging if basic infrastructure is installed in an orderly way. RW

Battersea arts centre architects declare day 4

Battersea Arts Centre - Architects Declare gathering day 4 (November 2019)

Battersea Arts Centre - Architects Declare gathering day 4 (November 2019)

Q&A

Architects declare collage line

Architects declare collage line

Three of the instigators of Architects Declare – Steve Tompkins of Haworth Tompkins, Michael Pawlyn of Exploration Architecture, and Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield – discuss the movement’s progress and its plans to become far more vocal

What are you most proud of?
Steve Tompkins The numbers have to be a real source of pride. It has exceeded my wildest expectations. When we first started, I thought 500 would be a real result and we’re almost at double that in the UK alone and nearly 10 times that across 22 or 23 countries around the world. And it’s not only architects. Crucially, it’s a much wider sample of construction professionals.

How can you help practices live up to the 11 pledges?
ST We’ve been doing quite a lot of work around that. We’ve got people like Clara [Bagenal-George] from LETI and Lauren Shevills and Kat Scott from ACAN, who have done some amazing work around practical help and guidance and engagement. We’re in the process of preparing some practical guidance.

Why have you not called out examples where your own members are not living up to these pledges?
Julia Barfield We were very definite, right from the beginning, that we didn’t want to ‘name and shame’. Everyone was saying ‘we’re all hypocrites’ and we haven’t got there yet [in terms of the 11 pledges]. So we really don’t want to get into that. Interestingly, that is one of Extinction Rebellion’s principles – that they don’t do naming and shaming. I think that’s absolutely right. To be a positive movement of change we want to keep it positive and supportive and not start sniping at people. 

But aren’t you actually allowing negativity to take hold in Architects Declare if signatories do things that don’t seem in keeping with their promises?
ST Yes, I think that’s right. But one also has to extrapolate that situation. I would certainly hold my hands up and say I think Haworth Tompkins fails by the standards set by Architects Declare. We’ve not been able to meet some of the criteria with some of the projects on our books even now. Logically, Architects Declare would have to call out every signatory for some breach or another. But what we continue to do is engage in a quiet and reasoned dialogue [with signatories] out of the public spotlight. 

What do you think of the media stories about practices seemingly not living up to their commitments?
JB The movement is more of a collective movement. It’s great the press is doing its job but it’s not what we should be doing. Each signatory is meant to be taking responsibility for their own actions. 

Wouldn’t leveraging your big-name practices to lobby government on regulations and legislation be a more effective route to change?
JB We are doing that. We have become involved in supporting ACAN and LETI on the changes to Part L and regulations on timber. We made sure our whole network knew about those and encouraged them to participate. Influencing government is absolutely one of the things we want to do. Michael Pawlyn For me, this is possibly the most important role for Architects Declare. Bringing about this kind of change is very difficult to do at the level of an individual company or an individual project. I know that from personal experience.

The Architects Declare statement and pledges repeatedly stress the need for urgency. Do you think practices that have signed up have generally responded with urgency?
JB I think [the results of] Architects Declare’s survey suggests that they are trying to, but that they recognise that they have a long way to go. ST There’s a constant tension between the knowledge of the urgency [of climate change] and going into the office on a Tuesday morning and facing up to the things that are happening – the jobs that are on the books and the relationships that are running. It’s not easy to reconcile those things.

How is Covid-19 going to affect the transformation of the architecture profession?
MP I hope this marks the end of the idea of exceptionalism, that we are removed from the laws of physics and biology. Unless we rethink the way in which we are disrupting ecosystems, we may see more and more pandemics in the future. So I’m hoping this leads to a more sophisticated understanding of the idea that you can’t separate human health and planetary health.WH 

Architects Declare was founded by Steve Tompkins and Michael Pawlyn. Julia Barfield joined soon after and is part of the steering group

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • so they have acheived a lot of publicity for some of the least sustainable practices ever to exist. anything else?

    Zaha's answers prove they dont understand teh science of what they are saying at all. we need to start being serious!

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