In 2019, 11 Stirling Prize award winning Architecture Practices pledged to “design buildings, cities and infrastructures with a more positive impact on the environment” and laid out a call to arms for practices around the UK to join them. Today, there are 832 signatures including those of Ryder Architecture, FaulknerBrowns Architects, xsite Architecture, MawsonKerr and GT3 Architects from the North East
The human impact, for better or worse, of the built environment sector is increasingly studied, it is frequently the subject of R&D activity and it plays a huge role in masterplanning. For example, our own census data research provides supporting evidence for the urban design theory that high density mixed use developments increase footfall and encourage economic activity; there is a higher likelihood that people will walk, rather than using cars, if the number of people living and working in a given area is high and so density is important to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. More people walking means more people being more active more often and a net improvement to physical wellbeing and so the scenario delivers ‘co-benefits’.
Many people’s response to the threat of climate change is a sense of hopelessness, but careful design of the workplace itself to provide opportunities for environmentally friendly behaviour can empower people, contributing significantly towards mitigating ‘climate anxiety’. The crucial role of Architects in engaging their publics can provide a building’s users with the agency they need to actively engage in and understand sustainable design solutions, so soft-landing and post-occupancy evaluation services are increasingly a crucial part of our offer to clients.
Designing for sustainability is therefore inherently designing for people.
The world’s biggest international inward investment and property gathering, MIPIM, has chosen ‘The Future is Human’ as the theme for this year’s event in recognition of this and the United Nation’s forecast that by 2050, there will be 9.7 billion world inhabitants and 70% of those people will live in urban areas. The organisers propose that “cities are poles of business activity, employment, education and innovation; their role is crucial in promoting growth that is sustainable, economic and socially inclusive, as well as in surmounting environmental and social challenges”.
In response, Invest Newcastle will lead a collective of North East Ambassadors from the built environment sector to MIPIM, including GT3 Architects, under the mutually reinforcing banners of smart tech, health, placemaking, sustainability and wellbeing. The intent is to further enhance Newcastle’s international proposition and current status as ‘Smart city of the year 2019’ and to lead the way in thinking about sustainable city design. Together, we’ll present our work as practices working in accordance with the principles of Architects Declare and as organisations working in the built environment to secure a better future for our cities and their inhabitants.
GT3 Architects, along with the rest of the Invest Newcastle cohort will be present between 10th and 13th March on Stand C.19.C