Can architects save the world?

While architects may not be able to save the world, they are making a difference and helping to solve some of its problems.

Improving wellbeing

The World Happiness Report looks at the happiness levels of the world population. The UK is number 13 in the list of countries, which are ranked according to the population’s level of happiness.

There are many ways to improve happiness in a country, including better economic and social conditions. Poor housing and residential buildings where profit is prioritised over durability, quality and performance can negatively affect the wellbeing of the people that live in them.

A housing development within lots of urban green space and large windows for residents to enjoy natural light can improve the wellbeing of residents.

Tackling climate change

Edward Mazria, the founder of Architecture 2030, says that building design and supporting net-zero carbon standards can help lessen the effects of climate change. Writing for Dezeen, he said:

“If we act together today, we prevent the worst effects of climate change. Our calling is, and has always been, to make the world a better place. Now we get the chance to do it on a global scale and help protect life on the planet. If we act together now, we change the world.”

The government aims for the UK to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 as a measure to reduce climate change. This target is impacting the design of new buildings. Residential and commercial properties need to be more energy efficient, with heating systems used that consume less energy, such as heat pumps and underfloor heating.

More sustainable buildings are being designed that reduce waste, and many use recycled building materials. Buildings can also use no fossil fuels, relying on renewable energy for power, including solar panels and wind turbines.

Safer cities

The Covid-19 pandemic has made people fearful and worried about their health. Many think that the world will never be the same and that it seems to be a more dangerous environment. City planners are looking at how to make cities safe, sustainable and inclusive.

London is reducing the population’s reliance on cars that cause air pollution. This could mean that new building developments will be designed with less car parking spaces.

Smart technology is being developed that has the ability to make cities safer. Huawei is developing systems of web-connected devices and software to provide new tools for improving public services and reducing crime. Future buildings may have smart devices that are connected to city-wide systems to provide data to inform better public safety policies.

Client involvement

Architects don’t build for themselves – they design buildings for clients. They can advise on creating more sustainable, better designed and safer buildings, but their clients need to listen. As Mazria said:

“We’re all in this together and must all act quickly and boldly.”

Architects may want to change the world, but they cannot do it without clients and builders who are willing to support greener and more sustainable buildings.

Posted by Mark
September 2, 2021
Features

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