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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org