by Meghna MehtaOct 02, 2019
Architecture Anew, a new joint venture between Royal Institute of British Architects and VitrA, aims to "expand contemporary debate around architecture and sustainability" through a set of digital talks running throughout 2021. In the third year of this collaboration between the two organisations, these interdisciplinary conversations particularly focus on a new generation of professionals leading the way in sustainable architecture and tackling issues related to environmental, social, and economic concerns. Bringing together leading architects and designers from different backgrounds, the series serves to illuminate innovative work done worldwide in envisioning a new approach to sustainability while building a strong case for greater experimentation with natural materials and empowering local communities and craftsmen.
Here's a peek into the recent and upcoming talks from the series:
1. In conversation with Anna Heringer and Anupama KundooDate: March 23, 2021
Uniting two highly-acclaimed architects dedicated to building architecture that responds to the needs of local communities and the environment, the first talk in the series featured Anna Heringer and Anupama Kundoo. Heringer is a prolific German architect who won the 2020 Obel Award for her ongoing work in Bangladesh, while Kundoo’s research-oriented practice previously based in the experimental township of Auroville, India, is renowned for its use of low-impact materials and traditional building techniques in projects. Through the 90-minute talk, the two discuss how their respective practices work to find design solutions that are sensitive to the planet’s needs and also delve into the current debate around sustainability in its various forms.
2. Low-Tech: Working creatively with natureDate: April 20, 2021
Addressing the question of whether sustainability can be achieved by a return to our roots through low-tech ecological strategies rather than technologically-intensive smart city solutions, the second talk brings together practitioners who work with traditional building methods. A panel of speakers that include London-based creatives Paloma Gormley (Practice Architecture), Jonathan Tuckey (Jonathan Tuckey Design), Heather and Ivan Morison (Studio Morison), and Kongjian Yu (Turenscape) from Beijing, explore means of working creatively with natural materials such as thatch, rammed earth, timber, and hemp. Through brief presentations followed by an in-depth discussion, the group examines the role of traditional, environmentally-sensitive architecture in building a sustainable future.
3. Rural Resilience: Xu TiantianDate: May 11, 2021
In the third talk, Xu Tiantian, founding principal of DnA_Design and Architecture based in Beijing, recounts her journey of building for regional communities in rural China. Her process, self-described as ‘Architectural Acupuncture', focuses on minimal interventions through small-scale public programs that enable long-term change in the social, economic, and cultural dimensions of rural settlements. Tiantian has completed a sequence of small-scale projects in China’s Songyang County over the past six years, gradually amassing herself a reputation for revitalising traditional Chinese villages.
4. Architects Beyond ArchitectureDate: June 15, 2021
Covering a particularly relevant topic, that of architects utilising their problem-solving skills in domains beyond design, the fourth talk brings together four professionals with architectural backgrounds, who are working towards humanitarian endeavours. The speakers - architect and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Mark E Breeze, Kishan San of Forensic Architecture (FA), Lindsay Bremner, Principal Investigator at Monsoon Assemblages, and Chris Hildrey, developer of Proxy Address - share their thoughts on working beyond the traditional limits of design-related fields to create socially motivated projects.
5. Rewilding: Nature cannot waitDate: July 15, 2021
Aiming to probe into the heart of rewilding - a progressive approach to environmental conservation - the dialogue will throw light on various facets of the movement and its large-scale efforts to maintain and restore wilderness areas. Its panelists, which include Jess Kennedy of British firm Arup, Richard Reynolds of The Guerilla Gardener, and Gwyn Stacey from the educational charity Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), will also explore the need to adopt a mindset where humanity is considered part of a larger ecosystem rather than an entity distinct from nature.
Reflecting a shared goal of supporting social, economic, cultural, and environmentally-conscious developments, Architecture Anew will follow in the footsteps of earlier RIBA + VitrA hosted talks that have featured eminent professionals such as Es Devlin, Lyndon Neri & Rosanna Hu of Shanghai-based studio Neri&Hu Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, Craig Edward Dykers and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen from Norweigan firm Snøhetta and Ben van Berkel of Dutch firm UNStudio