'Architects need to develop a different sensibility'
It is your quote that ‘designers will save the world’. What do you mean by that?
DB-B: Well, in order to achieve the noble ambition of a truly circular economy, it is needed for designers of all kinds to create the systems, products and buildings that can be designed for perpetual re-use or the enrichment of our ecosystems.
What does that mean for architects in your opinion? Aren’t they up for a huge challenge?
DB-B: Foremost it means that architects have to develop a different sensibility. Once you are aware of the (ethical) responsibilities that are incorporated in designing buildings, you realize you have to re-learn the way to do things. For architects the focus should be much less on the ‘looks’ of an object and far more on what I call ‘the hidden consequences of design’.
DB-B: Take into consideration the fact that the building industry is responsible for consuming 40-50% of raw materials. When you start identifying resources that are normally overlooked at the beginning of a project, it can make up as much as 80% a difference compared to a regular designing process. And no, I don’t think it is that big a challenge. Architects already have the training and the intelligence. They are experts on how to put materials and products together, therefore they are best placed to put them apart as well. But designing for dismantling does require a different sensibility though.
Does it not also require new business models for architects?
DB-B: As I said earlier, the intelligence is already present. It is now up to architects to convince their clients of the benefits. Circular principles are not only for the better sake of the world, but it can save clients’ money. Because they can re-use their investment.
DB-B: For short, what the world needs is different design solutions. Therefore designers can save the world.
Duncan Baker-Brown is architect en sustainable campaigner. De afgelopen 25 jaar heeft hij gewerkt, gedoceerd en onderzoek verricht naar duurzame onderwerpen. In het voorjaar van 2017 publiceerde hij voor de RIBA: ‘The Re-Use Atlas: a designer’s guide towards a circular economy’. Daarnaast is hij bekend van ‘The Brighton Waste House’ (2014) and ‘The House that Kevin Built’ (2008). Duncan geeft op 2 november een keynote op de BNA Architectendag.