There is almost nothing new left to say about the urgent need to reduce our devastating impact on the biosphere that supports us. In architectural terms, we have been told since the 1960s that mainstream architecture is not engaged enough with the environmental consequences of what it produces and how it produces it. The usual approach is to propose new ways of designing and building to persuade the reader of the centrality of environmental concerns.
But too many readers have remained resolutely unpersuaded over decades. In four sharp, interlocking essays, this book asks why the majority of the architectural profession and its clients still only pay lip service to the importance of the environmental. The first – Overthrowing – examines the Modern Movement’s astonishing success in establishing itself, and its legacy in contemporary architectural culture; the second – Converting – explores the inability of the environmental movement to ignite and transform architecture in the same way; the third – Making – discusses the importance of shifting architecture back to a materially-based view of itself to increase its effectiveness, and finally – Educating – looks at the need for architectural education to urgently reconsider how and what it teaches in the volatile 21st century.
This in no way diminishes the extraordinary contribution that a minority in architectural practice and education have made to the development of environmental design and environmental thinking over the past fifty years. In each essay, therefore, are examples of innovative and determined people pursuing other ways of practicing architecture and other ways of training architects for this critical century, who are pulling the model of a nature-centric practice out of the margins and into the centre.