We are re-entering an age of necessity and must design accordingly

Bloomberg Arcade, running through the middle of the Bloomberg building designed by Foster & Partners

Harriet Wennberg welcomes a timely resurgence in the use of natural materials and traditional forms

A UN global status report estimates that the next 40 years will add 230bn sq m of new construction to the planet. This is the equivalent of building a city the size of Paris every week for the next four decades. The construction industry’s contributions to global carbon emissions are well documented. So too is the fact that we are now 12 years away from what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls an irreversible and catastrophic climate tipping point. Great strides have been made by the building sector to become greener and to give real meaning to the term “sustainability” – but more needs to be done, globally and quickly.

Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in London, designed by Foster & Partners, won the RIBA’s 2018 Stirling Prize. The judges gave it the award for the year’s best new building in Britain in part for its claim to be the world’s most sustainable office building.

However, as became clear from the reactions that followed the ceremony, even a budget of £1bn and the highest possible compliance with environmental performance regulations deliver a building that continues to hurtle us headlong towards climate change that will make much of this planet uninhabitable. Simply put, the best isn’t good enough.

This is premium content

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or Subscribe to view this story

Existing subscriber? LOGIN or

Take out a subscription to BD and you will get immediate access to:

  • Up to the minute architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Our monthly digital edition including stunning photos, building and technical studies
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a print copy of WA100 when it is published in January

Get access to premium content subscribe today

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts