Mobile version
spiked plus
About spiked
What is spiked?
Support spiked
spiked shop
Contact us
Summer school
Top issues
Arab uprisings
British politics
Child abuse panic
For Europe, Against the EU
Free speech
Jimmy Savile scandal
Parents and kids
View all issues...
special feature
The Counter-Leveson Inquiry
other sections
 Review of Books
 Monthly archive
selected authors
Duleep Allirajah
Daniel Ben-Ami
Tim Black
Jennie Bristow
Sean Collins
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Frank Furedi
Helene Guldberg
Patrick Hayes
Mick Hume
Rob Lyons
Brendan O’Neill
Nathalie Rothschild
James Woudhuysen
more authors...
RSS feed
a-b c-d e-h i-l m-n o-r s-u v-z index
Austin Williams
director of the Future Cities Project, development manager at NBS

The key challenges for architecture in the next 18 years are to develop ideas that project a positive vision of the future; reclaim the arrogant ambition of the designer; break from formulaic rules of engagement; and experiment with new technologies and materials. In order to achieve this, architects in particular and society in general need to renounce its all-encompassing obeisance to sustainable development.

In British architecture of 2006, subservience to sustainability indicators and environmental benchmarks is almost total. Architects now proclaim that they are taking all possible measures to minimise their footprint on the natural world. But the point of architects is to create the built environment. Their raison d’etre has always been to maximise their impact on nature. Sustainability confounds future-orientated architecture.

Suggesting that we need to use ‘benign materials’, to design ‘urbane architecture’, to prioritise a ‘precautionary approach’ etc, in order to protect future generations from architecture’s unforeseen detrimental impacts is a miserable commentary on how we see our actions today. It views architectural interventions as inherently damaging rather than potentially creative and sets the criteria for good architecture as that which is ‘harmless’.

I don’t believe that the generation of 2024 will thank us for architectural modesty. The buildings we create may not be appreciated by the next generation - as is the prerogative of every generation – but leaving a legacy of modest architecture will, by definition, be nothing to celebrate.

We need to be confident enough to make mistakes. Only this way will students entering architecture schools in 2024, be set the ambitious challenge to appreciate, reject or improve what we’ve done and move on.

Austin Williams is coauthor of The Macro World of Microcars (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and a contributor to Sustaining Architecture in the Anti-Machine Age (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).

Survey home
What we found
Survey responses
RSS feed
Anjana Ahuja
Michael Baum
Peter Cochrane
Richard Feachem
Frank Furedi
Michio Kaku
Ken MacLeod
Jonathan Meades
Munira Mirza
Matthew Parris
Ingo Potrykus
Roger Scruton
Ben Shneiderman
Lionel Shriver
Raymond Tallis
Peter Whittle
Josie Appleton
David Baulcombe
Claire Fox
William Higham
Paul Lauterbur
William Graeme Laver
Ken MacLeod
Fiona McEwen
Victor Stenger