I hadn’t a clue about the deeper issues, the structural problems,
the root causes of the extinction crisis.
And then how the worldview was affecting all of this: our epistemologies, our worldviews,
our decisions, how we formed economies, and even down to our personal lifestyles.
It took me a long time to get to this point.
And I think for the most part I don’t believe that young people today are
really clued in either.
In a strange way, architecture is really an unfinished thing,
because even though the building is finished, it takes on a new life.
You have to give it time. Architecture is not just for the moment,
it is not just for the next fashion magazine.
It’s for the twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred, two hundred years
if it’s good; that’s sustainability.
Ecological systems in nature before we had human beings interfere
with them exist in a state of stasis – they are self-supporting, self-sustaining.
We shouldn’t just look at new buildings but at existing stock building
because that’s an even greater problem than the new buildings being built.
The renovation of existing buildings and making them green
is just as important as designing new green buildings
Cities are an immense laboratory of trial and error, failure and success,
in city building and city design.
Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody,
only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.
All through organized history, if you wanted prosperity you had to have cities.
Cities are places that attract new people with new ideas.
What we call ‘economic growth’ is in fact a growth in waste
and a decline in the health of natural habitat.
Without the land, the rivers, the oceans, the forests, the sunshine, the minerals
and thousands of natural resources we would have no economy whatsoever.
We have to shift our attitude of ownership of nature to relationship with nature.
The moment you change from ownership to relationship,
you create a sense of the sacred.
There’s no doubt whatsoever that there’s no future in capitalism.
It’s a relatively recent phenomenon.
It’s probably no more than 500 years old,
and it’s demonstrating over and over again that it is destroying the world.
We are going to have to rethink that,
and I wouldn’t even suggest that we are talking about other failed systems
such as socialism and communism.
We should take the best of socialism, the best of capitalism,
and form new economic technologies
that are going to sustain nature and not destroy it.
I don’t think capitalism can survive: It’s built on the premise of endless growth,
and anybody in their right mind knows you cannot grow endlessly.
They have instruments that place themselves in constant contact
with the remotest parts of outside world.
They can thus live rather oddly in an intellectual, musical or visual environment
that is wholly independent of his immediate physical surroundings.
It’s very important that architects understand their own power
and that what they do is something which is of enormous impact to society.
Not that I believe that architecture influences social behaviour directly,
but it certainly does so indirectly.
Cities did not seem “very happy places”.
Extremes of inequality are underlined in the way those kind of cities are built
and extremes of inequality always tend to show up in political movements.
The price of property in city centres is making it impossible, particularly in the big cities,
for any kind of social mix to take place. It’s castrating the whole notion of city life.
As an architect, you design for the present, with an awareness of the past,
for a future which essentially unknown.
Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.
By old buildings I mean not museum-piece old buildings, not old buildings in an excellent and expensive state of rehabilitation–although these make fine ingredients–but also a good lot of plain, ordinary, low-value old buildings, including some rundown old buildings.
If a city area has only new buildings, the enterprises that can exist there are automatically limited to those that can support the high costs of new construction.
It is possible, and important in human terms, to respect,
to respect old buildings, street plans and traditional scales
and at the same time not to feel guilty about a preference for facades,
ornaments and soft materials.