The Architects Declare 'Building Justice' event on 3rd November was a great success, with over 70 people attending in-person at our London studio and a good online attendance for the livestream. Everyone came together to discuss how to tackle AD's most recent and arguably most challenging declaration point: Climate Justice.
The talks exposed the extraordinary breadth and emotiveness of the subject, and participants' energy and commitment came through in their response to the speakers in the Q&A and an audience participation round that included thinking where building professionals can have the greatest impact on climate justice, and making their own personal or practice-based COP27 resolution. Our very own Zoe Watson gave a great introduction to the event.
Daze Aghaji, a Youth Climate Justice Activist who centres on Regenerative Cultures, Intersectionality, Radical Social Justice and Youth Political Engagement, explained how her early years living in poverty disconnected entirely from nature led to her recent passion to fight climate injustice. She saw first-hand how the environmental crisis disproportionately affected her community through deprivation, increased pollution and ill health.
Sara Edmonds, similarly galvanised by the bleak outlook of many intersecting crises, documented her action, which included work inspiring communities to retrofit and effective lobbying for the Great Homes Upgrade. She argued the case for new systems thinking, acknowledging our current patterns of consumption, exploitation and reliance on rising GDP needed a wholesale redesign. Sara is a retrofit advocate, director at Studio seARCH, an ACAN coordinator, co-founder of Home Energy Action Lab and co-host of the Zero Ambitions Podcast.
Rosie Murphy, a consummate communicator, tasked us all to tap into our own feelings of injustice. She argued that through self-awareness, we could achieve a just world. She urged us to exploit the power we have as designers to enable justice. Rosie is ACAN's Diversity & Solidarity Coordinator, an Advocate for the Black Females in Architecture network, a mentor for Homegrown Plus, and works at the social enterprise Matt+Fiona, where young people are asked how their built environment might be improved.
Michael Pawlyn, architect, systems thinker, expert in regenerative design and biomimicry, and co-founder of Architects Declare, asked us to vastly widen our outlook. Referring to Brian Eno’s ideas he made the case for ‘A bigger here, a longer now and a wider we’. Where do all our resources come from? How are they grown or extracted? In truly understanding our local ecosystems and the ingenious solutions that exist all around us, we can evolve from just talking about carbon to develop new systems that stop exploiting.
Michael explored our idea of time and argued a longer and deeper approach will help us address past injustices and understand fully the cumulative debt we owe the global south. Human empathy and a focus on community and intersectional thinking over the individual alone can enable a shift to what George Monbiot has advocated as a state of "private sufficiency and public luxury". Michael ended with a buoyant finale picturing us as co-enablers moving from a "silent spring to a raucous summer" (also from Monbiot).
You can watch the recording of 'Building Justice: Crisis Solutions' here.