An interesting column written by Argentinean architect Carlos Libedinsky, former head of the Ecology subject at the most prestigious Architecture College in Argentina and now head of a Master in Advanced Design, appeared in the country's most read newspaper: ClarÃn. "It's amazing that environmental subjects are optional for Architecture students, probably the main contaminators of the planet in the future -he writes-. David Cameron (candidate running for Prime Minister in England) has based his political platform on the environment defense; in the United States Al Gore is making a strong statement through An inconvenient truth; and our own president (Nestor Kirchner) is preparing himself to be the leader of Environmental Politics in Latin America*. All these symptoms show that the subject has started to be assumed massively (also seen as a smart way to gain votes), and yet from the teaching point of view, Architecture (which produces edification: the main protagonist of global warming) doesn't have in most cases a position that's stronger than just a declamatory and cosmetic pose". "The Economist registers that the most prestigious universities' students claim for more information and education in Sustainable Architecture", continues Libedinsky. "But the only credit for certain projects that are so called by authors and critics environmental
is that they incorporate a garden in their interior or a solar panel, that's more symbolic than effective, in their roof", he claims. The architect also says "some of the so called intelligent buildings that come up are usually environmentally dumb, since they consume energy in reaction to small climate changes that could be easily fixed by opening a window"."In our Architecture Faculty I've seen that projects, even the ones that are very good from a design point of view, do not show environmental content, and the intentions to incorporate Architecture Ecology as a support program for design workshops or as a mandatory subject have been few and worthless over the years. It's amazing that the environmental subject, that as Al Gore says is the number one factual and politic theme for humanity, is optional for the ones that will be the main contaminants in the future", he resumes.
An interesting point of view for a country in which serious poverty and structural problems usually don't let Environment get much attention. More so if we note that the newspapers' attention to the subject has raised, probably because the world is talking about this more too.
(*) The reference to the Argentinean president, Nestor Kirchner, being the leader of the Environmental Politics in this region has to do with a conflict that took place with neighbor country, Uruguay, for the installation of cellulose factories in the limit area of the countries (probably too politic to bring up at TH). Kirchner took a position to support the people who were fighting against it with demonstrations, that claimed factories would contaminate a river that runs in this area. International Court gave the right to Uruguay to have freedom of choice in their territory, but this has given the Argentinean president some eco-fame. No signs yet of further or stronger actions in the field of sustainability.
Image by Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research.