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“The environment is not an obstacle to our lives, it is our lives.”

Reyner Banham

Banham advocated for a “conscious architecture, [which,] as distinguished from vernacular building, should be able to reason out the unique solutions to specific problems.”  Thinking of architecture as a technology rather than an art can free architects from antiquated formal restrictions and reorient them to the real problem: to turn these “habitable volumes” into “well-tempered environments. A statement clearly relevant in his mind then but some 60 years later even more relevant today.

Climate action now and in the future is of paramount importance for architects as we play a central role in shaping the built environment, and we have the power to influence the trajectory of our planet’s sustainability. As responsible architects aligned to the goals of the UKGBC we recognise the urgency of addressing climate change and embrace their responsibility to design buildings that contribute to a low-carbon future. The following statement outlines the critical importance of climate action for our organisation:

“In the face of rapidly advancing climate change, we as architects are uniquely positioned to drive positive and impactful change through our work. The built environment, encompassing both new constructions and existing structures, significantly contributes to global carbon emissions, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. As such, architects bear the profound responsibility of leading the charge towards sustainable, regenerative, and climate-resilient design practices.

The significance of climate action for architects lies in the potential to mitigate the environmental impact of buildings while fostering resilient, healthy, and liveable spaces. By prioritising energy efficiency, adaptive design, and the use of renewable materials, architects can substantially reduce the carbon footprint of their creations. Moreover, embracing sustainable design principles empowers architects to optimise natural light, ventilation, and thermal comfort, thus enhancing occupant well-being and transitioning from the reliance on energy-intensive systems.

At Pilbrow & Partners we champion the integration of green infrastructure, such as living roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, and urban green spaces, to counteract the urban heat microclimate and promote biodiversity. Furthermore, by designing for resilience against extreme warm and wet weather events and rising sea levels, architects can future-proof communities and infrastructure, ensuring long-term viability in the face of a changing climate.

Architects are not only stewards of the built environment but they are also drivers of social and environmental progress, akin to the thoughts of Reyner Banham. By prioritizing climate action in our designs, architects can inspire a holistic shift towards sustainable living, promote community resilience, and contribute to the global effort to combat climate change. As one of the key guardians of the built environment, architects have the transformative power to shape a future where buildings stand as symbols of sustainability, resilience, and enduring respect for the planet.”

Our key issues for considering sustainability in architecture are as follows:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Designing buildings to minimise energy consumption and utilise where possible and applicable renewable energy sources.
  2. Resource Management: Using sustainable materials, reducing waste, and efficient water management.
  3. Green Space Incorporation: Balancing urban development with green spaces to improve biodiversity and air quality.
  4. Climate Resilience: Designing buildings to withstand and adapt to changing climate conditions and extreme weather events.
  5. Sustainable Transportation: Encouraging public transportation, pedestrian-friendly designs, and reducing reliance on private vehicles.
  6. Community Engagement: Involving local communities in the design and planning process to create environmentally and socially sustainable spaces.
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