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Headline

Why architects need to wake up to the carbon emergency

Comment

What Will Hurst fails to acknowledge is that architects are not the decision makers in these matters. It would be different if architecture was only about need. It appears to me that most architecture in London (the local area predominantly represented by the AJ) is about celebration of excess for the benefit of a narcissistic organisation or authority. We have been told by Sir Michael Latham that the architect should not be the decision maker; it should be the consumer, and by Sir John Egan that the process should not be driven by the architect but by the contractor. Government policy has followed that advice ever since and that has been adopted by the private sector. Now the only thing left with a public face, the rather silly concept of "prettiness", is being put in the hands of an untrained and out-of-date privileged traditionalist with friends from the old school to give him a chance to spout about what he likes to see on a Wednesday. So why are you telling architects about sustainability? We know about it. We are at the cutting edge of this and know that there is far more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your article. The problem exists because no-one is interested in what we say. Look at the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, as a perfect example of the direct consequence of all that the government has advised. No sandstone there. Existing building reused. Cheapest, lightest materials used. Decisions made by client and contractor alone. Big sums saved on oversight. Big sums saved by the Westminster government by not changing the law and the regulations for England when neighbouring countries had done so, based upon the same knowledge. And the result? Unimaginable human loss, and terrible social and environmental cost. This was followed by further resource waste through the government, who are seriously conflicted, setting up a public enquiry that omits reference to their procurement route and a police action which cannot look at a failure in the law. How sustainable did that turn out to be? I think it is time for people to stop telling architects what they should know about the subject in which they are extensively trained and start listening to them. It is also time to start appreciating that the terrible problems we have with the lack of sustainability in the construction industry do not lie with architects. The failure is that the process of procurement, taken away from architects in recent years, is led by the ephemeral priorities of the paymaster and the current government, and not the wider and lengthier-impact needs of the user and the environment.

Posted date

28 February, 2019

Posted time

12:29 pm

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