Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

The Coach: ‘Architects Declare is going to be a tricky issue’


Careers expert Matthew Turner advises an architect facing the challenge of implementing the practice’s commitment to Architects Declare

I am passionate about climate change and work for a large practice that has signed up to Architects Declare. We have formed a working group and I am tasked with implementing the commitments in the manifesto to do with net zero carbon in our projects, minimal material use, and so on. I already sense a lack of traction; everyone else seems desperate to focus on the more presentational commitments, which are way easier to achieve.

Matthew turner

It will be interesting to see what changes as a result of Architects Declare. It will certainly lead to some exemplar activity, but I can’t help but wonder whether little overall change might result, as reforming the terms of engagement of the architectural market could potentially further boil down architectural consultancy to a commercial decision for clients.

The detailed task of working out what needs to change at a practice level will be no mean feat, and relies on people like you.

Sticky issues of what actually needs to happen need working through. Then there is the task of doing it. The proof is in the pudding, namely the bits of the built environment we are paid to deliver.

You are right to rail against the focus being on presentation, rather than output

Only when carefully benchmarked post-occupancy evaluations of our buildings demonstrating zero carbon materialise could success for Architects Declare be claimed. For this reason, I sense you are right to rail against the focus being on presentation, rather than output.

You are in a new vanguard in our profession – those obliged to develop a subset of skills in change management. Radical change is no doubt possible, but incremental change is the norm for good reason, as it brings people along and can be more adaptable.

Be aware that in the wider world, change management is one of the most highly paid areas of management, because the stakes are public and high. Make sure those at the top realise this and invest in you.

AJ coach Matthew Turner is an architect and careers consultant who runs the Building on Architecture consultancy. Email him in confidence at hello@buildingonarchitecture.com


Readers' comments (2)

  • I have an architect friend who does not believe that climate change is caused by human activity and feels browbeaten, unable to speak out and worried they may be forced to sign up to something they don't believe in- or worse still be ostracized, even fired, if they refuse.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think climate change is becoming like racism/homophobia etc, where the right of an individual to have their own ‘view’ on the issue is outweighed by the overwhelming scientific consensus on one side, and the possible harm that could result to others by a person maintaining that view.
    It is true that this is censorship of an individuals beliefs, and sometimes those beliefs are sincere and heartfelt. But that is the cost of being part of any society which (generally) tries to prioritise the common good.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.