It’s time for architects to step up and assume greater responsibility for the fate of our planet and fully recognize the environmental impact of their work. The construction industry consumes about half of all resources extracted from the earth and is responsible for more than a third of global energy use and emissions, with cement production alone accounting for roughly 7% of CO2 output. Reducing this environmental toll will require a radical new approach to construction—starting with the way we architects approach design.
Do we really have to build? We always should consider “no” as a possible answer. We must think of our cities as mines ripe for exploitation, re-using, maintaining, and transforming what already exists rather than demolishing and building anew. But with the world’s population growing by 2.6 people per second, it’s also clear that we need to build for more people, with fewer resources. We already have materials that are less harmful to the environment—wood, bamboo, rammed earth. We must make greater use of those and develop new, greener materials and methods that can be produced without fossil fuels, cause zero CO2 emissions, are fully recyclable, and create no waste through a building’s entire lifecycle.
Shifting the hyper-efficient and competitive building industry away from “business as usual” and toward a more holistic approach won’t be easy and will require taking into account the environmental costs incurred during the entire lifespan of a project, not just during its construction. But the pandemic is proof that radical change is possible, offering the hope that the ecological crisis we face can be prevented by radical measures—if we truly choose to act and our political leaders are willing to embrace the necessary sacrifices.
This exhibition presents dozens of projects—local and international—by architects who say “Enough is Enough.” They’ve had enough of waiting for top-down solutions, and they’re finding ways to make do with what we have: why use too much when enough will do? Their work highlights methods for treating our planet with respect and responsibility—toward the environment, toward the economy, toward society as a whole.