Foundation 23 - Re-materializing Construction

66 Forum conclusions around 10 billion people will populate the earth by 2050. If we continue to deal with resources as usual, we will be consuming 90 billion tons of material per year by then – more than twice as much as today. And if we want to achieve our declared climate targets within 10 or 30 years, we have no choice but to reduce CO 2 emissions to zero. And even then, our chances of success would be only 50%. Simon Upton shattered the hope that more trees would be the simplest solution with a report he himself wrote: “Trees, I’m afraid, don’t cut it. They are not the answer to carbon emissions.” What’s more, there is always the pressure to provide services where there aren’t any and to provide better ones where there are. So it’s high time for action. But who should take action when every- one seems to agree that everything is incredibly difficult? There is agreement, the Forum showed, that it’s important for architects to listen to the needs of building users. “But what do you do when the client wants something grand?” he asked, and had to admit that “Lacaton’s injunction to think behind the brief may not always get us there.” For many, the motto is: seeing is believing. “It’s easier to see a structure than its consequences,” says Upton. “We can’t see the emissions or the gray water that have been externalized from our little slice of suburban paradise.” As far as the environment is concerned, humanity seems to be standing on a bridge and will recognize the consequences only when the bridge collapses. Lord Norman Foster is probably right to say that architecture is still the easiest part of the puzzle to solve and that, above all, political will – which is lacking – is needed in order to bring about change. But that makes it too easy. “Politicians will go as far and as fast as people let them,” the former politician said. They are always only as good as their advisors, and that’s why many politicians fail to manage the complex social and economic systems that surround us – and to explain their actions as they should. “I think that politi- “We have to accept that the planet won’t give us much time.” “It’s easier to see a structure than its consequences.” “And don’t go and choose easy cases, please!”