Conceptual Challenges inhibiting sustainable practice

Gerard Reinmuth participates in the 2nd annual Singapore ArchiFest Forum. This years theme, Man + Environment, examines the relationship of Architecture and the Environment encompassing context, genius loci through to issued of climate change, displacement and alienation.

Gerard's talk - "Conceptual challenges inhibiting sustainable practice" - outlined his thesis that truly sustainable practice is an aesthetic and not a technical problem.

Synopsis of lecture

The term “sustainability” has become so overused as to be completely meaningless.   The word badges – and thus excuses – any level of environmental vandalism being perpetrated by our profession.  Projects across the world – and particularly in the developing regions of China and the Middle East – are presented as “sustainable” in the hope that this blinds us to the reality of what is proposed.  This lack of honesty prohibits us from addressing the monsters we create.  We all live in denial.

The realities of sustainable development may well be uglier and clumsier than the crystalline images of brave new worlds encouraged by the aesthetic preferences of our globalised architecture industry.  The idea of parasites, grafts and implants into existing contexts offer clues as to sustainable practice but remain as marginal “curiosities”.  The way in which architectural practice is structured, its aesthetic and spatial preferences, and its business proposition, all need review.

This presentation of ugly, strange and incomplete projects by TERROIR suggests alternate ways we might engage with our environment in the hope of a more sustainable future.

Other speakers include: Fernando Menis (Spain), Andrew Maynard (Australia), Madhura Prematilleke (Sri Lanka), Ken Yeang (Malaysia) and Jo Noero (South Africa).