“Next month I will launch a United Nations declaration: design principles for sustainable and inclusive urban architecture. They are the equivalent of the oath that doctors in ancient Greece took to uphold ethical standards,” said Sir Norman Foster. It is a compendium of goals for achieving sustainability in architecture, developed by the relevant United Nations offices.
Next month I will be launching a United Nations statement. Which is the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath for doctors, addressed to architects
The United Nations has written this set of “design principles for sustainable and inclusive urban architecture.” The principles are addressed to architects and will be ratified next month in the San Marino Declaration. In the presence of archistar Sir Norman Foster, in the role of promoter.
The responsibility of architecture
Surely beyond the not-new proclamations of these multinational organizations on the subject very little has resulted so far. One thing is certain, the world of architecture is largely responsible. For the environmental pollution of the planet, in every sense of the word. From energy consumption to waste disposal, to the depletion of nonrenewable resources, to land consumption.
Written by the Office of the Urban Development, Housing and Land Management Committee, the San Marino Declaration concerns not only architects. But also, all professionals and managers of the built environment. Stimulating them to support design concepts for sustainable and inclusive urban architecture. Advocating for the construction of homes, neighborhoods urban infrastructure and, more generally, sustainable cities. As well as safe, healthy, socially inclusive, climate neutral and circular.
Design principles: from words to actions?
Beyond doubt the architect is a key figure in this process. His design choices can result in conscious use of energy. For instance, from sustainable sources. A judicious consumption of resources, such as water and other natural resources. A wise choice of building materials. That takes into account the environmental impact in their production. An analysis of the building’s life cycle from beginning to end. From cradle to grave. This set of choices is articulated in a complex sequence of activities. And a conscious designer must perform it to achieve the goal of sustainability. However, there are doubts about the real decision-making autonomy of the architect. Because operating in this direction involves making choices. And these choices may conflict with cost. And, consequently, with the appropriateness and proportionality of business-as-usual investments.
Respecting cultural identity
Another key point of the declaration is to respect the cultural identity. And the heritage of places and buildings. To achieve this it is not an option, as Norman Foster himself noted, to be limited to architects. The entire supply chain should be sensitized. And involved on the issue. But not only. Opinion leaders, public administrators, politicians, residents, and so on must be engaged. “I consciously encouraged the United Nations, which grasped the idea that we should not only invite architects and engineers to sign this declaration. It should extend to city managers, politicians, developers, builders, everyone. Everyone who is involved, who has the power to sign this declaration.”
I consciously encouraged the United Nations, which grasped the idea that we should not only invite architects and engineers to sign this declaration. It should extend to city managers, politicians, developers, builders, everyone, everyone who is involved, who has the power to sign this declaration
Built environment as a key sector
However, the United Nations is increasingly focusing on the built environment. As one of the key sectors for sustainability. Sector that contributes significantly to climate change. The 26th annual UN climate conference COP26 addressed carbon emissions from buildings for the first time. During a half-day dedicated to the topic, last November. While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) devoted two entire chapters to buildings and cities; in its most recent report. We will see the results of this umpteenth statement of intent.
In the meantime, here’s how to successfully produce 54 percent less CO2 in the construction process. (From the book “Décarbonation du bâtiment : 100 jours pour prendre les decisions”).