ArchiWEB Explorer: United Nations

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The Environmental Cost of Cement, and What to Do About It

Sesc Pompeia / Lina Bo Bardi. Image © Fernando Pires Sesc Pompeia / Lina Bo Bardi. Image © Fernando Pires

For thousands of years, concrete has been a foundation of the built environment: the most widely used man-made material on the planet. However, as architects, and the public alike, sharpen their focus on the causes and effects of climate change, the environmental damage caused by cement has become a subject of unease.

As exhibited in a recent in-depth article by Lucy Rodgers for BBC News, cement is the source of about 8% of global CO2 emissions. The piece was written off the back of the UN’s COP24 climate change conference in Poland and found that in order to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, annual cement emissions must fall by 16% by 2030.

If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world – behind China and the US. It contributes more CO2 than aviation fuel (2.5%) and is not far behind the global agriculture business. (12%).
-Lucy Rodgers, BBC News

The Graduation Projects Nominated for the Archiprix International 2019

Courtesy of Archiprix International Courtesy of Archiprix International

As an initiative of the Archiprix Foundation, Archiprix International 2019 recently invited all schools worldwide in Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape Architecture to select and submit their best graduation project. "This graduation work presents a wealth of ideas for a broad range of contemporary and future challenges", explains the organization on its website.

After analyzing all the submissions sent by universities from more than 100 countries, the jury —Francisco Díaz, Rosetta Elkin, Marta Moreira, Martino Tattara, and Sam Jacoby— nominated 22 projects for the awards in a special session held in Santiago, Chile. The winners of the awards will be announced at the Award ceremony on May the 3rd 2019 in the same city.

The complete list (in alphabetical order) of the projects nominated for the awards, below:

185 En-Counters

Into the Forest / Openfabric

© Jacopo Gennari Feslikenian © Jacopo Gennari Feslikenian
© Jacopo Gennari Feslikenian © Jacopo Gennari Feslikenian

Text description provided by the architects. Openfabric has been selected to design the public spaces of Mantova city center in occasion of the first World Forum on Urban Forest (WFUF 2018) by FAO. The aim of the design is to engage with the two different levels of the forum: the academic one and the broad public. The project wants to critically represent a number of forest typologies rising both awareness on the importance of nature in urban environments and on the dramatic effects of climate change.

CAA Statement

“Following its 91st Council meeting, the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) notes with concern the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and recognises the important role played by architects throughout the Commonwealth in the battle against climate change.

In light of the 24th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Agreement currently being held in Katowice, Poland, the CAA calls on its member organisations to develop and implement action plans to engage with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and advance the world’s global agenda to safeguard people, prosperity and the planet.

Following the ‘Survey of the Profession in the Commonwealth’ that was undertaken earlier this year, the CAA is also aware of the challenges being faced by a number of Commonwealth countries which are urbanising most rapidly and are among the most vulnerable. The CAA calls on its member organisations to collaborate with one another, and with other built environment professions, to help deliver a sustainable future for all.”

Skyscrapers of 2018: Soaring Beyond the Archetypal Crystal Tower

© Viktor Sukharukov © Viktor Sukharukov

Either as singular outcroppings or as part of a bustling center, skyscrapers are neck-craning icons across major city centers in the world. A modern trope of extreme success and wealth, the skyscraper has become an architectural symbol for vibrant urban hubs and commercial powerhouses dominating cities like New York, Dubai, and Singapore.

While skyscrapers are omnipresent, 2018 introduced new approaches, technologies, and locations to the high-rise typology. From variations in materiality to form, designs for towers have started to address aspects beyond simply efficiency and height, proposing new ways for the repetitive form to bring unique qualities to city skylines. Below, a few examples of proposals and trends from 2018 that showcase the innovative ideas at work: 

Huamo Lot 10 / Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF)

Come Hell or High Water: Cities Must Evolve in the Face of Climate Change

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The time to talk about climate change as if it’s merely a hazy possibility that won’t occur in our lifetime anyway has long passed. Multiple recent reports have made it clear that it’s already happening, and its effects will be much worse than previously expected.

In 2016, the Paris climate accords set a goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (at which it’s already failing); the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now says two degrees is both inevitable by the year 2040 and genocidal, set to cause the death of all coral reefs, extreme wildfires, heat waves and other weather events that will subsequently threaten the world’s food supply and transform the global economy.

Refugee Baggage: Suitcase Dioramas Show Dark Scenes from Countries Fled

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

The project of a Syrian-born artist and architect and an Iraqi-born author, this installation invites viewers to imagine what refugees leave behind when the pack up the few things they can carry and flee an oppressive regime or war-torn country.

The UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage installation by Mohamad and Ahmed Badr “sculpturally re-creates rooms, homes, buildings and landscapes that have suffered the ravages of war. Each is embedded with the voices and stories of real people — from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Sudan — who have escaped those same rooms and buildings to build a new life in America.”

Sustainable Startup Beats out BIG, Henning Larsen for a New Eco-Village in Copenhagen

UN17. Image Courtesy of TMRW UN17. Image Courtesy of TMRW

Sustainability startup Lendager Group have beat out BIG and Henning Larsen in a competition to design a new eco-village in Copenhagen, Denmark. With the project UN17 village, Lendager Group designed the first project in the world that will translate all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into tangible action. After nearly 25 years of planning, the 400 new homes will complete the new city district, Ørestad South.

Degrowth: the Radical (Re)Action Needed to Avoid Total Economic and Environmental Collapse

Courtesy of Otherothers. ImageOtherothers' installation at the 2015 Chicago Biennial looked at the impact of the standard suburban Australian home. Their installation proposed a shrinkage of the typology's spatial impact Courtesy of Otherothers. ImageOtherothers' installation at the 2015 Chicago Biennial looked at the impact of the standard suburban Australian home. Their installation proposed a shrinkage of the typology's spatial impact

The world faces some significant challenges. The UN climate change report released last month, which explained that we may have just 12 years and need “unprecedented changes” to avoid devastating effects from climate change, was released into a world that seemed to be plenty busy processing other things, such as rising economic inequality, increasingly partisan politics, escalating conflicts, and refugee crises, to name a few.