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week 21 | donderdag 23 mei 2024 20:25 uur | 0 bezoekers

Sustainable Urbanism, Sustainable Architecture, Sustainable Business

Sustainable Urbanism
John Roberts
April 8th 2008

2nd lecture in the program:
Re-inventing Rotterdam
AIR foundation/Academy for Architecture and Urban Design

Sustainability and Urbanism. Most cities are sustainable: they last as long as people keep living in them. Cities disappear when the people disappear.
What is meant by Sustainable Urbanism?.


I attended both lectures and in the end I am as confused as in the beginning. One question keeps running in my mind: “Why are these men invited to give a lecture considering the program and the question at hand?” Their priorities are foremost with seeing their ideas built. The question of sustainability seems of second or third interest. First there is engineering, then business and more business and then last but not least: sustainability. Last night I began to understand that the nature of this lecture series is about Sustainability and Architecture, i.e. of architecture sustaining itself through development and growth. From this point of view, sustainability is indeed a nice and profitable way to look at recent development in architecture.


From another point of view Roberts – director of Arup Energy – may have considered saying no to his contractor is. He is genuinely interested in the environment and reducing CO2, so not building will always save more CO2 then building. In his line of thinking the advice he gives for building, is helping the United Nations to reach the CO2 output targets by formulating green guidelines for plans that come his way. He is convinced his contractor will build anyway, so then it’s better to build with these guidelines than without. I must say, a responsible and an admirable, and tricky point of view.


Roberts is a engineer who seems to love constructions, puzzles, challenges, complexity and …reducing energy consumption by reengineering consumption processes. What he understands is that people want to consume and that they not really care what they consume. Roberts reengineers the consuming cycle so people do not have to stop consuming, because they do not know when or how to stop.


Roberts exemplified this through his lecture: a lengthy affair with an overkill of information. Nobody stopped him, we the public even encouraged him by asking more and more questions and thereby extending the duration of the lecture. At the end of the lecture I was exhausted; my brains had to deal with this excess. A lot of information passed me by. At the end only one thing came to mind: He could have reduced his lecture in time and energy at least by 50%. If he had done so, I might have felt energised by his views. His perspective on building is worthwhile and does generate new lines of thinking for architects and urban designers. Rests my question to all, including myself, do you live your ideals and ideas?



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