Earlier this week, architect and circular economy expert Duncan Baker-Brown gave the keynote speech “Can Architects Save Planet Earth?” at the AJ100 Awards night.
Baker-Brown emphasised that we are at a historic cross-roads; we can either change our attitude towards the environment now or suffer severe consequences in just a few decades. Governments are at last declaring a climate emergency; we may have woken up to our impending doom, but it will take more than stirring declarations to save the day. Decisive, immediate action is required.
Despite such a serious wake-up call, the speech set a positive tone, inspiring the attendees to reconsider how they practice architecture. Baker-Brown covered topics ranging from our unsustainable love for concrete to the idea of designing buildings to be material stores for the future. Although progress has been slow, there is still hope both for the architectural profession and humanity in general. We have the knowledge and power to dramatically reduce the damage we do to the natural world, and to reduce our contributions to global warming.
The keynote speech adds to the ongoing discussion within the profession about architecture’s approach towards tackling climate change. Earlier this year, several RIBA registered architects were arrested during Extinction Rebellion protests, and only a few weeks ago seventeen RIBA Stirling Prize winning architects called on the profession to declare a climate emergency.
Opinion is changing more rapidly than practice, however, which is why Duncan Baker-Brown thought it was essential to set a positive tone and discuss practical ways architects can design with the environment in mind during his keynote address to the AJ100 attendees.