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The planet is the client

This issue is a reader for a particular, activist blend of architectural approaches to the environment. It establishes a bit of (tendentious) context; it defines, and redefines, and argues over certain terms, clarifying the attitudes behind them; it documents our mistakes as evenly as our successes, so we can really understand where we’ve been and where we are now. And since we’re still hoping, it puts forward new design possibilities—which we promise don’t all originate in the 1970s. Your help on that would be greatly appreciated.

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Sustainable?

A colloquium with Iñaki Ábalos, Stan Allen, Michelle Addington, Mahadev Raman, Mark Jarzombek, Volker M. Welter, Manuel Bauer, Matthias Sauerbruch, Mohsen Mostafav, and Mirko Zardini

I want to talk about the word sustainable, first of all, because I think we should be careful with it—and unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with something better. Words are very important… It would be an exaggeration to say that the word is dangerous, but I’ll say that in recent years it’s already become connected with a specific interpretation in architecture, one that is very different and more limited in certain ways than what was there twenty years ago or thirty years ago. When we start to use a word like this, as a kind of solution in itself, we should really pay attention to what we mean.

Anyway, I have to excuse myself before I go on, because this is my own kind of preoccupation. That’s why I invited Iñaki here. Somehow I convinced him that figuring this out is also his problem, so he organized this seminar, which I think will be productive—maybe not to find any answers, but perhaps to help us ask better questions.

– Mirko Zardini, from the introduction to the colloquium

Listen to the talks

Stan Allen and Iñaki Ábalos: Introduction

Michelle Addington: Unprecedented Collaborations

Mahadev Raman: A Quarter Century of Environmentally Conscious Design

Mark Jarzombek: The Reverse Utopianism of Sustaining Sustainability

Volker M. Welter: Sustainability—The Shangri-La of Modern Architecture?

Manuel Bauer: Integration of Sustainable Development Objectives in Buildings, the Swiss Approach

Matthias Sauerbruch: Architecture and Sustainability

Mohsen Mostafavi: Ecological Urbanism

The international colloquium Sustainable? was initiated by Iñaki Ábalos in 2006, to explore questions of sustainability in relation to architecture. Listen in iTunes.

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