Looking at the Climate Emergency for the Architecture Industry

At the Architecture Foundation and Barbican summit at the main theatre of the Barbican in September, architects, campaigners, and leading academics will come together to address the failure within the industry to properly tackle the current climate crisis and to take responsibility for part of the failure to prevent the climate emergency that the world is currently facing. Phineas Harper, the Architecture Foundation’s deputy director, will curate it with the goal being to discuss ways in which the architecture world can begin to take drastic steps to help change the way in which we design and build for our planet in the face of such climate extremes.

Harper is aware that architecture and the materials that are used within the processes of architecture and construction are one of the main reasons behind the high levels of global greenhouse gases. It is therefore down to the industry itself to have a shift in perception and look to lead the fight against global heating through a new way of design and a new approach to the materials used within architecture.

The architecture industry has been compliant in helping to create a world where the extracted natural minerals used within construction have come to be relied upon in almost every context. There has also been a systemic failure to take responsibility for this fact and to push forward with looking at innovative and effective ways to reverse these trends and the hugely negative impact they have on the world as a whole.

The summit will discuss this at length, whilst also looking at how it is no longer responsible to justify the materials that are used within construction in the way they always have been. For instance, the concrete used in the building of a large structure will often be justified as the embodied carbon is offset over the many decades it will be likely used. It is too late in the day to continue using this type of justification, and the current climate awareness must be jumped on to look at new and sustainable ways in which infrastructure and planning strategies can be tweaked to include a brand new outlook.

Architects Declare includes over 400 signatories from the architecture sector, calling for collective action to take place immediately, to help mitigate further damage to the planet that could be irreparable. It is heartening to see such mobilisation from the elite of the industry right down to architecture students, and this summit could be the start of a fresh and exciting new chapter of masterplanning and architecture in the UK, looking to instil a greater level of understanding of the impact of materials used.

With clever design, better and more sustainable construction materials, and a greater level of understanding and awareness from the design and architecture world we could look at the way in which our cities are built and how they intertwine in a completely brand new light. It is certainly needed with the way the world is facing a climate emergency.

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