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ACAN response to Architects Declare withdrawals


Our values promote collective effort from individuals to address the climate and ecological crisis as the severe existential threat that it is. Open dialogue about the built environment’s relationship to our economy and decisive action is vital to reaching targets for global carbon emissions reductions.

In July, after a survey of our network, we wrote to Foster + Partners expressing our concern over their involvement with the Amaala Resort Airport and aviation expansion generally. We received no response, so posted it to them many more times as paper aeroplanes, in hopes of starting a dialogue. Still they refused to engage. We invited them to show leadership on climate or to step-down from Architects Declare in order to safeguard the integrity and credibility of that initiative. Disappointingly Foster + Partners have chosen the latter course.


In releasing their statement and withdrawing from Architects Declare, Foster + Partners have made it clear that continuing to enable aviation expansion is more important to them than being part of a collective industry effort to address the largest crisis of our time. They have signalled very clearly that tackling the climate crisis is not their priority, especially when doing so would conflict with their business model. 


Speculations around when or if aviation will decarbonise are irrelevant. It is clear that this sector will not meaningfully decarbonise within the short window of 10 years that scientists have given us to halve global carbon emissions.



"Instead of practices taking defensive stances or singing their own praises, this moment calls for an honest reappraisal of why, collectively as an industry, we have failed to address the climate crisis."



If efforts and ‘innovations’ to mitigate climate change and environmental destruction had been remotely successful to date, we would not have arrived at this terrifying precipice. Protest movements are rallying together around a more positive vision of the future that moves away from outdated notions of endless economic growth and techno-utopianism.


The news today of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) withdrawal from Architects Declare shows that there are many practices who are really only interested in pursuing business as usual. Statements from both of these practices are rooted in obsolete, hubristic ideologies which bear much responsibility for our failure to respect planetary boundaries.


Instead of practices taking defensive stances or singing their own praises, this moment calls for an honest reappraisal of why, collectively as an industry, we have failed to address the climate crisis. We can acknowledge that some advancements have been made but not of the scale or nature required. The built environment is still responsible for some 40% of carbon emissions. Rather than ‘wind the clock backwards’ we must recognise it as a timer ticking down towards a point of climate and ecological breakdown that we cannot return from. The facts are clear and alarm bells are ringing all around us.


ACAN will continue agitating for the entire industry to treat the climate and ecological crisis as the severe existential threat that it is. We welcome all individuals who share in our aims to join our efforts; regardless of who you work for, or what you may be working on in your day job(s). If you work for Foster + Partners, ZHA or indeed any practice, please know that you are welcome to join our movement and take meaningful action outside of your employment. It is vital we speak truth to power and take action together.


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