Ethical architecture?

Ethical issues are constantly arising.   One issue concerned building types, particularly regarding work overseas, and the nature of clients. The ethics of working in Iraq also prompted much debate in the RIBA council.

Charles Jencks praised Building Design for raising difficult moral issues - "If professional magazines don't do it, these difficult issues will go unexamined."

The debate was left there (March 2005), but the publication of Design Like You Give a Damn by Thames and Hudson in 2006  again raised ethical issues as central to the practice of architecture.  Then during February 2008 BD again raised the issue.

According to one recent American book architecture and environmental design are among the last professional fields to develop a sustained and nuanced discussion about ethics. It claimed that though architects had responded to the symptoms, they need to investigate an alternative relational ecology whose wisdom draws from ancient and often marginalised sources.


ethical issues
Clients Building Design tackled the design dilemmas particularly faced by architects working abroad. Would you design a palace for a dictator?
Architects should first examine the motive of the client, or the nature of the regime.

The issue is also relevant within the UK. Would you design a prison although Britain imprisons far too many people?

Affordable Housing


The sale of council housing, the end of local authority house-building, and the rise of house prices above the rate of inflation have led to an acute shortage of housing for people on low incomes.

Ever since the beginning of the provision of working class housing in the mid 19th century each step forward has been followed by a slide backwards as costs have risen.

Women's Issues Theories and Manifestoes published in 1997 showed how few were written by women, let alone relating to gender differences.

The Desiring Practices project in 1995 sought to examine the role of sexuality and gender in architecture. The prolific response acted as beacons for future exploration.

Taschen's Architectural Theory of 2006 ignores the topic, and, of the 15 presumably most influential twentieth century theorists, only one, and then in partnership, is a woman.

Children In October 2006 The Telegraph launched the Holding onto Childhood campaign, for a return to 'real' food, as opposed to junk, 'real play' as opposed to screen based entertainment, and first-hand experience of life with the significant adults in their lives. Backing the campaign, the Archbishop of Canterbury called for a ban on advertising aimed at under 12s.

A stimulating built environment must be part of this approach, for all aspects of life, and from the nursery upwards.

Social Exclusion

Back in July 2002 a new government policy document on social exclusion, entitled People and Places, was launched.

It said that contemporary buildings were a vital part of everyone's cultural heritage, but that many people, such as those with disabilities, the unemployed, and those living in communities which suffer from deprivation, were prevented from fully connecting with their surroundings.

Since then riots in Paris, the alienation of young British Muslims and the rioting in English cities in the August 2011 has widened the issues.

However the issue of inclusivity only became popular with the London Olympics in 2012, when the subject was treated seriously.

Third World Several universities run courses on the architectural side of Third World development, but few become involved in this.

In 2006 Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity was nominated for Designer of the Year.

At the same time Design Like You Give a Damn was published as a compendium of innovative projects showing how architects from the west can improve the lives of the 1 in 7 people who live in refugee camps and slums.

The book is also a call to action to all architects committed to building a better world.

Volume 2 followed in 2012.

Sustainability The need to act now to mitigate the effects of global warming seems finally to have been acknowledged. But it has taken the publication of the Stern Review, by the former chief economist of the World Bank, of the devastating economic (as opposed to ecological) effects to do so.
Beauty? The ancient Greeks believed there was an intellectual link between what was good morally and what was good aesthetically; for which they coined the term ĸαλος κ'αγαθος.

Style? Is style an ethical choice? This is a question about ethics even if the answer is "no."
Should sustainable buildings be in a "green" style, or can there be sustainable neo-Georgian houses?
Not only was the Victorian battle of the styles about ethics, so too was the Modern Movement.


Why "Christian" and why not "Humanist" or "Islamic"?

Christian lifestyle


Christian resources
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