Celebrated on the first Monday of every October, World Architecture Day was set up by the Union International des Architects (UIA) back in 2005 to “remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat”, coinciding with UN-Habitat's World Habitat Day.
This year both organizations have defined themes related to improving the quality of life and reducing the effects of the climate crisis by taking action in the built environment. While the International Union of Architects' 2021 World Architecture Day theme is "Clean Environment for a Healthy World", UN-Habitat's World Habitat Day has announced "Accelerating Urban Action for a Carbon-Free World" as their topic.
To mark this occasion, ArchDaily's team has picked a series of articles that seize the main conversations, challenges, and trends that are shaping the built environment around the world this 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from being over. Yes, things are finally improving, but the promised immediate revolutions as a consequence of the pandemic aren't here yet—regardless of how appealing is to declaim that everything will change. However, we keep looking to the future and foreseeing potential changes the pandemic might detonate. As illustrated by ArchDaily editor Andreea Cutieru, "these articles reflect a recent shift in perspective that was triggered on the pandemic year, whether it is about how we work, where we choose to live, how we think about tourism now, or the pace of automation."
Accelerating Urban Action for a Carbon-Free World
The theme for 2021's UN-Habitat World Habitat Day recognizes that "cities are responsible for some 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions with transport, buildings, energy, and waste management accounting for the bulk of urban greenhouse gas emissions." Even though most governments, organizations, and communities agree on ambitious, global, collaborative actions must be unfolded in order to lessen the climate crisis, the content of those actions —and who should take action— isn't that clear. Architects and designers have embraced this challenge by pondering their roles and exploring their own practical approaches.
Future Languages and Technologies of Architecture
Metaverse, cyberpunk, and solarpunk are some new concepts we have mapped this year so far, nourishing new languages of architecture for a world where the pandemic normalized remote work and virtual hangouts. These concepts, alongside the consolidation of automation, domotics, buildtech, and 3D printing, are expanding the conversation on how a digital world might evolve in the near future. Who will build the metaverse?
As Diego Hernández, Creative Director of ArchDaily, once asked, "how can we help lower emissions from our industry through design? History has shown us that there are many construction techniques and the use of local materials has managed to be sustainable over time, undoubtedly technology and knowledge can help us to improve this type of technique so that they are durable and economically sustainable. How much can we learn from vernacular architecture? From a critical perspective, we should discuss which are the best options and in which cases architecture should be rather local than global."
"It’s Not Because You Are Limited in Resources That You Should Accept Mediocrity": Interview with Francis Kéré
"The Art of Pattern is the Legacy of our Grandparents": Koen Mulder on the Brick Bond as a Composition Tool
Equity & Migration
The pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the social, racial, economical inequity of the world. A crystal clear example immediately pops up when comparing which countries have already reached the immunity heard and which don't. Moreover, #StayAtHome became a mantra last year in order to avoid spreading the virus, but at the same time, unveiled a privilege: Who can stay at home if they don't have a shelter? Who can if they're rejected at home for their sexual orientation? Who can if women all over the world are at risk of domestic violence at home? Who can if their day depends on informal commerce or delivering food through apps? Improving the equity of our cities became a common topic in our discipline, as acknowledged by the Pritzker jury when granting this year's edition prize to Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal.
The Biennials' Message
Some of the most important upcoming architectural events planned for 2020 were postponed due to the pandemic. The idea of transforming biennials and triennials into digital or hybrid events eventually didn't happen yet. Once the situation improved in selected countries, the 2021 Venice Biennale curated by Hashim Sarkis finally opened its doors to the public as did the 2021 Chicago Biennale, the Salon del Mobile in Milano, and the Expo 2020 Dubai. Let's see what happens to those events based in the Global South next year.
"Architecture is a Medium that Can Make a Difference": In Conversation with Hashim Sarkis at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale
Best of the National Pavilions: Recurring Qualities Explored at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale
7 National Pavilions at the 2021 Venice Biennale that Explore Migration and its Impact on Built Environments
On Salone del Mobile 2021, the Democratization of Design and Environmental Qualities: In Conversation with Stefano Boeri
Selection curated by Romullo Baratto, David Basulto, Andreea Cutieuru, Fabián Dejtiar, Eduardo Souza, and Nicolás Valencia. Explore ArchDaily's World Architecture Day 2020 selection.