Open letter to the architectural community: a call for curriculum change

Open letter to the architectural community: a call for curriculum change

Architecture Education Declares

Courtesy Architecture Education Declares.

June 5, 2019
Open letter to the architectural community: a call for curriculum change

Dear friends and colleagues,

Our education has a key role to play in addressing the ongoing ecological crisis. Our generation will encounter unprecedented social, political and ecological challenges, and we all need to respond with the urgency these circumstances demand.

The crisis has grown out of a socio-economic system which depends on the intensive extraction of the Earth’s resources, ultimately driving our planet’s life-support systems to their limits. Furthermore, it is now clear that ecological breakdown and global inequality are intimately linked; they are related symptoms of the same process.

Architecture is an important factor in this. In part because of how it uses resources and shapes environments, but also because of the political and social systems it enables. Just as ecological breakdown is connected to many aspects of society, so too is architecture. Practitioners now and in the future must be equipped with a nuanced understanding of these connections.

We are concerned that at present our education does not give sufficient weight to the inherently ecological and political basis of architecture, nor to our responsibility to meet our uncertain future with socially and environmentally informed practice.

We appreciate and applaud the efforts of contemporary practitioners, but we ask you to join us in using the freedom and particular responsibility of academic institutions to push our discipline further in this direction.

To these ends, we invite you, the staff and students of our schools, to sign this letter and join us in asking this institution to make the following commitments:

∙ To publish a response to this letter.
∙ To set up working groups including staff and students, across all areas of the school, with a mandate to implement necessary changes.
∙ To develop and publish a yearly implementation plan, including a framework of accountability.
∙ To join us in asking RIBA and ARB to centralise the social and technical dimensions of ecological breakdown in their certification practices, and to expand their Code of Ethics to confirm that failing to engage with ecological breakdown is acting counter to the public interest.
∙ To conduct annual environmental policy reviews, so that our schools may lead by example, integrating the highest standards in our own policies, divesting from damaging industries such as arms manufacturing and fossil fuels, and exploring new options for positive carbon and ecological contribution.
∙ To jointly form and partake in a group of staff and students from other schools, to oversee collective efforts to these stated ends, so that we may move beyond competition and work in a spirit of collaboration and sharing.

Immediate efforts toward these commitments will not alone be sufficient, but that they are necessary is unambiguous. We look forward to working with you in this task.


A group of students from the Architectural Association, Bartlett, Cass, Central St Martins, Kingston University, Royal College of Art, Sheffield University, Westminster University

Barney Iley (Bartlett School of Architecture)
Architecture Education Declares
T +447598526734 / barney.iley [​at​]

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