Skip to content

Architecture is Climate Lecture at ETH

MOULD Collective, Architecture of the Territory, D-Arch ETH Zurich
30. November ’23
Photo by Anthony Powis on behalf of MOULD

On behalf of MOULD, Anthony and Christina introduced Architecture is Climate, as part of the talk series MY WEATHER within the core course Architecture of Territory: Territorial Design in Histories, Theories and Projects. The lecture interrogated two terms Accountability and Vulnerability, and prompted students to diagram Architecture is Climate in their own work as a responsive exercise.

Architecture is Climate entangles architecture with the conditions of climate breakdown. Architectures and climates are not separate entities brought together in orchestrated moments. Instead, they are conditions that are produced through one another. For too long architecture has stood outside climate, seeing it as a problem to be fixed through technocratic intervention. But if architecture is climate, it becomes part of a febrile and disrupted world, vulnerable to its contingencies. No longer standing outside and applying superficial patches to the wounds of climate, architecture is climate binds the discipline and its humans to the scars, violence, and emotions of climate breakdown.

In this lecture we discussed the binds between architecture and climate, and what they mean for architectural and climate futures. We cannot continue to ask the normative question: “What can architecture do for climate breakdown?” Instead, we must ask: “What does climate breakdown do to architecture?” Architecture has concretised our perilous energy dependency. Exposing these dependencies and reckoning with their causality of climate breakdown is the first step towards deconstructing and reforming the discipline of architecture.

Both material and social-cultural, both product and agent, architecture and climate therefore also have an opportunity to create alternative material and social-cultural configurations that nurture a different set of forces and functions. Responding to the urgent need for reinvention in the way we understand, practice, and teach architecture demands an engagement with activism, politics, and education. Architecture must become relational, subjective, and interconnected; both planetarily bound and supported; inclusive beyond the human; caring, curious, and brave. Architects can become part of the systemic change that climate breakdown calls for, reshaping social relations through alternative spatial formations and practices. Neither fixed nor rigid, other possible architectures are also other possible climates. Together, both might change and be changed.

Architecture of the Territory–MY ENERGY Lecture series ETH Zurich

This lecture series sets ups an agenda for widening the disciplinary field of architecture and urbanism from their focus on the city, or the urban in the narrow sense, to wider territorial scales which correspond to the increasing scales of contemporary urbanisation. Within the theme My Energy, the four guest speakers engaged in fields ranging from energy humanities and feminist political ecology to urban history and urban design, will approach the notions such as energy transition, decarbonisation, genealogy of energy and urban microclimates.

Architecture of the Territory–My Energy is curated and organised by Milica Topalović, Nazli Tümerdem, Quianer Zhu and Michiel Gieben.