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VIEWS


15


VIEW POINT


In his second article on the subject for ADF, Rory Bergin looks deeper at the facets within ‘the ethics of development’ that architects should consider


S


ince ethics are primarily about how we deal with each other, architects might be forgiven for wondering what it has to do with buildings built with what are, hopefully, inert materials. But since the purpose of building is to serve the needs of people, clients, users, occupants and society, there are ethical implications to every act related to design and construc- tion, some of which are covered in part by legislation, and many which aren’t.


A check through the two codes of conduct that architects should follow reveals an inadequate response to today’s environmental crisis


The central question, as I see it, is: ‘Are we being fair to everyone involved in the process?’ Another we need to ask ourselves is: “Does our professional ability and knowledge mean that we should take an extra level of care for everyone and every- thing affected by our work, even when legislation and guidance is absent? A check through the two codes of conduct that architects should follow is revealing insofar as it reveals an inadequate response to today’s environmental crisis. The RIBA Professional Code of Conduct states: “Members shall respect the relevant rights and interests of others.” The ARB Architects Code states: “You should treat everyone fairly. You must act in compliance with your legal obligations. You must not discriminate.”


On the other hand, when it comes to the environment, The RIBA Professional Code of Conduct has this to say: “Members should be aware of the environmental impact of their work.” (Aware! But not asked to do anything.) The ARB Architects Code states: “Where appropriate, you should advise your client how best to conserve and enhance the quality of the environment and its natural resources.” The ‘where appropriate’ has me baffled. Where would it not be appropriate, given that every project an architect could be involved in must have an impact?


Impacts over time


In my previous article I set out the four areas within which to consider the ethical implications of any project. The first area looks at the impacts of a building over its design, construction, operation and


demolition phases. What are its impacts on people over time, and how does it change? For example, a question we might ask in regeneration projects, or in any design project where an existing use is being terminated or moved to facilitate the new project, is ‘are people being treated fairly to enable the design and construction process to happen?’


This is particularly relevant to regenera- tion projects where the lives of people who live within the regeneration zone are going to be disrupted to enable the project to happen. Care must be taken to ensure that they are treated fairly and end up being beneficiaries of the project. If they are to suffer the disruption of moving and being rehoused, possibly more than once, then surely they should enjoy a share of the benefits of the project that they are enabling to happen.


ADF JULY 2017


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