A whole host of Stirling Prize-winning architecture practices have declared an emergency in response to accelerating climate change. Calling for a “paradigm shift”, they unveiled 11 pledges to bring architectural practice in line with planetary limits and called on other UK designers to sign up.
And not before time. The British government estimates that the built environment accounts for almost 47 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Architecture’s potential to lead the fight against global heating, to date, has been matched only by its failure to do so.
Many commentators have spun Architects Declare as mere virtue signalling, pointing to some of the founding firms’ poor track record on ecological construction. Yet just two weeks later, over 400 practices have signed up, while architecture students have launched a parallel declaration. We’re seeing an unprecedented mobilisation of architects in the fight against climate change.
Pledges and sexy websites are one thing, but channelling the momentum behind these strident words into meaningful change is another. The 11 pledges are solid first steps and amount to a significantly reformed vision of urban practice, but ultimately fall short of the comprehensive paradigm shift their authors insist is needed.
The aesthetic and material possibilities of a new ecological architecture could be exceptionally rich