Patrik Schumacher follows Norman Foster out the door on sustainability pledge
Zaha Hadid Architects has withdrawn from Architects Declare, the climate and biodiversity commitment to which it was a founding signatory.
In a statement issued this afternoon it attacked the founders of the movement, claiming they were for “setting the profession up for failure” and blaming a significant difference of opinion.
ZHA is the second practice in two days to announce its withdrawal, after Norman Foster yesterday withdrew his practice amid a dispute about whether designing airports can ever be sustainable.
Both practices were among the 17 Stirling Prize-winners who were the declaration’s original signatories last year. It has since been signed by more than 1,000 architects and – as part of Construction Declares – more than 6,000 firms worldwide.
Both Fosters and ZHA are also prolific designers of airports which have come under increasing scrutiny from architects committed to designing in a sustainable way.
In his statement yesterday Norman Foster argued it was better to work from the inside to design more environmentally friendly airports than to refuse to engage in what he said remained an essential part of the globe’s infrastructure. His remarks made national headlines.
Last week Architects Declare issued a statement asking ZHA and any other like-minded signatories “to either join the wave of positive change or have the integrity to withdraw” because their actions were “seriously undermining the effectiveness and credibility of AD”. That came after ZHA principal Patrik Schumacher has made comments about the primacy of growth and prosperity.
Today ZHA’s statement concluded: “We saw Architects Declare as a broad church to raise consciousness on the issues; enabling architectural practices of all sizes to build a coalition for change and help each other find solutions. We need to be progressive, but we see no advantage in positioning the profession to fail. In fact, it would be a historic mistake.”
>> From the archive: Stirling Prize winners declare climate and biodiversity emergency
ZHA’s statement in full
Climate change is a defining challenge of our generation and Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is committed to developing solutions.
We embed sustainability into the design, procurement, construction and operations of the projects we are delivering, and we work hard to build integrated client/contractor/design team relationships that can maximise opportunities to improve systems which prioritize environmental issues and ensure cost-effective sustainability.
This collaborative relationship between the client, operator, design team and contractor, together with the development of an overall understanding of the sustainability agenda across the entire project team, is critical to delivering the most sustainable construction and operations of a building throughout its lifetime.
Recent ZHA projects have achieved exemplary accreditation. The KAPSARC research centre in Riyadh and the Generali Tower in Milan were awarded LEED Platinum. The Nürnberg Messe Convention Hall received its Platinum rating from the German Society for Sustainable Building (DGNB) and Leeza SOHO in Beijing obtained LEED Gold.
ZHA is now delivering architecture around the world targeting the highest sustainability certification, including projects in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas planning carbon neutral operations.
We continue this progress; marrying advances in sustainable design and operational systems with innovations in ecologically sound materials and construction practices. We do not look only at the disparate parts, but work to understand them as a whole to deliver effective solutions.
Regrettably we are withdrawing from Architects Declare. As a founding signatory, we agreed to continue and accelerate our work towards progressive change in our built environment. However today we need to recognise that we have a significant difference of opinion with the Architects Declare steering group on how positive change can be delivered.
For us how change is delivered requires discussion, cooperation and collaboration, and this must be debated without condemnation.
Architects Declare’s steering group has unilaterally decided on its own precise and absolute interpretation of the coalition’s commitments. By doing so, we believe they are setting the profession up for failure. Redefining these commitments without engagement undermines the coalition and trust.
We saw Architects Declare as a broad church to raise consciousness on the issues; enabling architectural practices of all sizes to build a coalition for change and help each other find solutions. We need to be progressive, but we see no advantage in positioning the profession to fail. In fact, it would be a historic mistake.