Design and Politics: the next phase
1 - Cradle to Cradle: Creative and Effective Urbanism

27 January 2011

Opening event in a series of seven thematic debates taking place in 2011 / 2012.  'Design and Politics: the next phase' was initiated by ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory in collaboration with Henk Ovink, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. An interesting example with regard to sustainable urbanism are the Cradle to Cradle® Almere Principles. The Cradle to Cradle Festival at Aedes Architecture Forum presents an opportunity to ask whether Cradle to Cradle can be principlised for urban planning and architecture; whether such principles are universally applicable; and where responsibility for sustainable urbanism lies.

Part I: Introduction

Part II: Statements and Discussion

Part I

Welcome and Introduction

Part II
Podium Discussion
moderated by Henk Ovink, Director for National Spatial Planning at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment - 00:40:47 - 01:29:07

Henk Ovink began the discussion with reference to the potential for Cradle to Cradle® to set standards at scales ranging from products to cities. He then asked where political responsibility lies in the search for creative and effective and ecological urbanism and the ‘cool city.’

In response, podium presentations ranged from ‘the need for government procurement oriented towards C2C products’ [Monica Greifan]; to a ‘belief that government should create the preconditions for citizens to find good alternatives’ [Peter Rehwinkel]; to the view that ‘design professionals must make buildings like trees and cities like forests’ [Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart]; to the assertion that ‘design must be beautiful for sustainability to be effective’ [Arthur Thomaes]; and the opinion that ‘the point at which design creates shape from material is the interface between matter and the market’ [Rinus van den Berg].

As the discussion began it was suggested it takes both the energy of individuals to make things happen and a 5% critical mass to effect collective change. There was also support for flat organisations reflecting the fundamental C2C principle of natural hierarchies. On the subject of government intervention it was suggested that rules and regulations signify design failure. It was agreed that design requires long-term goals with inspirational force and the participants urged individuals and companies not to wait for government action.

This led to a discussion of the market as a mechanism for change and it was suggested that governments can set long-term goals but ultimately the market will decide. It was agreed that the market must be educated to demand corporate change with the caveat that this is complex given that some long-term costs of unsustainable or unhealthy products are socialised rather than borne by the market. Regarding architecture, it was suggested that architects must take a more comprehensive view rather than just focusing on aesthetics. It was asserted that if the brief and aspirations for architectural projects are left only to the client it merely provides designers with excuses for inaction. On the re-use of existing buildings, it was suggested that old buildings are merely combinations of toxic waste and that it’s better to tear them down and start again according to C2C principles.
Summary by Matthew Beattie for ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory

We would like to thank the following institutions for their generous support:
Netherlands Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment
Dutch Embassy in Berlin

Part of the Project:
Design and Politics

For a full summary please click here


ANCB Partners 2016/17

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