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A new decade

A new year and a new decade brings with it the promise and hope of a ‘better’ tomorrow. Resolutions are often our actions towards these ‘better’ days. We resolve to work harder, faster, stronger, smarter – every verb to be just a little better than we were yesterday.

Ironic as it is, New Year’s resolutions now have come to almost mean that we set ourselves up to fail. We start out with strong and charged, only to fizzle out for good few months down the line. What does this mean for an architect’s resolution for the new year or decade ?

Recently, Ben Van Berkel of UNstudio published an article on the rise of the new decade and what it means for architecture. His article points to a few main themes that will enable a sustainable human habitat of the future :

  1. architecture has to respond to a circular economy, to reduce waste

  2. architecture has to respond to climate, which means the output ( = buildings) need to look different and perhaps, work, differently than they do now.

Again, the article calls for a healthier, more responsible, smarter, more sensitive application of our agency as architects. These ambitions he speaks of are long term, for the decade and we must educate ourselves to practice these, habit by habit, towards a radical shift in architecture for a world plagued by political and environmental turmoil, at the moment.

The Tokyo Olympics of 2020 stands out as a good example of these changes on a systemic level – Buildings of the previous Olympics of 1964 are being reused for this year’s events. It is well known that Olympic villages, post the games, often turn into desolate, run down parts of a city and we need to look into designing these villages beyond the myopic, immediate life they serve. A reused/retrofit building has much less carbon footprint as compared to a new building and the games are directional in our efforts to be sustainable in this coming decade. Sustainability has long gone beyond its superficial certification of carbon footprint and calls for a much more holistic understanding of the word.


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Now, as individuals, let alone architects in this new decade, it is pertinent that we examine for ourselves the potential we have to effect change, and make personal choices that direct our energy towards a more sustainable way of living, going forward in this decade. What may be radical and ‘new’ now, is fundamentally long pending and urgent in our capacity.

So as the new decade begins, we need to make an effort to see for ourselves what we would like to contribute to the ‘new’ world of the future.

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