Behind every building, every public space, every park and landscaping, there is an architect at work

SHARE Bucharest 2020, the 22nd edition in Romania in collaboration with the Order of Architects of Romania, found us in an unpredictable situation that led us to reflect on what the future will bring, and more specifically, how architecture will change in light of the current times. More than 500 audience members joined us online and physically on the 15th of October in a unique format that was to become an intensive 11-hours architectural marathon. Throughout the day, prestigious figures from the international architectural field shared their ideas, views and innovative perspectives on what the future holds and how architecture will come to reshape society as we know it.

On the same line of thought, arch. Alexandru GĂVOZDEA, President, Romanian Order of Architects, transposed his ideas in an inspiring and thought-provoking welcome message that touched on the sensitive role mankind and the current generations of professionals plays in protecting and ensuring a viable future.

Alexandru Găvozdea: I would like to start by thanking the organizers for the consistency in bringing the culture of sharing once more to the forefront of our profession and to the construction industry in general. Even more so in the challenging year of 2020, this is no small feat. You remember and have lived through the fact that most of our countries and cities went into lockdown for months, with social, economic, and cultural consequences, we are just beginning to fathom.

This tiny virus has unwillingly and with no contribution of ours, in fact, despite our resistance, pushed back Earth Overshoot Day six to eight times faster than any other event in modern history. The depletion of the yearly sustainable resource allotment did not happen mid-year as it was foreseen, but close to two thirds into the year on August 22nd. Here we are, already five years into the United Nations’ 15 years plan to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all people by 2030. Of these 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the overwhelming majority appeals to architects too.

We spent over 80% of our lives in buildings, and the almost entire rest of it in man-made environments. A consistent part of the national and global economies is made up of the construction industry or is dependent on the delivered buildings to develop production, R&D, food, apparel, and so on. Behind every building, every public space, every park and landscaping, there is an architect at work. We are in the unique professional position of the construction process to be part of the complete building lifecycle, from inception to construction to commissioning, and over the use of the building to the decommissioning or adaptive reuse, or even plain restoration and continuation of use.

Recently, I saw in the main exhibition of the BETA Architectural Biennial in Timisoara, they start off the exhibition with a very challenging question. Is not building an option? My opinion is the answer is certainly yes, but with a myriad of nuances, reasons, and choices along the way, many of them outside the scope of architects’ work in the realms of behavioural science, environmental responsibility, and economic modelling. We are as mankind also in the unique position that we may well be the first generation to be sufficiently aware of this situation and also the last one able to effectively do something about it. Responsibility of the highest order lies within this. Thank you.