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Zaha Hadid Architects withdraws from Architects Declare climate change emergency group

United Kingdom Architecture News - Dec 04, 2020 - 13:46   8679 views

Zaha Hadid Architects withdraws from Architects Declare climate change emergency group

World-renowned UK architecture studio Zaha Hadid Architects has withdrawn from Architects Declare, a climate change and biodiversity emergency group. ZHA's decision came one day after Foster + Partners left the group on December 2

Zaha Hadid Architects joined the group as a founding signatory in May 2019 alongside other 16 world-renowned UK firms, including Foster + Partners, AL_A, Alison Brooks Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, however after the group's reactions came up against Foster + Partners' new Amaala resort airport in Saudi Arabia, the group called the studio to withdraw its airport project in Saudi Arabia in the midst of climate concerns and reconsider its position in Architects Declare.

After Foster + Partners leaving Architects Declare, Zaha Hadid Architects also left the group on December 3, by stating that "the studio has a significant difference of opinion with the Architects Declare steering group on how positive change can be delivered".

"Regrettably we are withdrawing from Architects Declare. As a founding signatory, we agreed to continue and accelerate our work towards progressive change in our built environment," said Zaha Hadid Architects. 

"However today we need to recognise that we have a significant difference of opinion with the Architects Declare steering group on how positive change can be delivered."

"For us how change is delivered requires discussion, cooperation and collaboration, and this must be debated without condemnation."

"Architects Declare’s steering group has unilaterally decided on its own precise and absolute interpretation of the coalition’s commitments," added the studio. 

"By doing so, we believe they are setting the profession up for failure. Redefining these commitments without engagement undermines the coalition and trust."

In the statement, ZHA defended its mission on climate change over the sustainable agenda where they apply in their projects starting from design process to the building's lifetime circle. 

"This collaborative relationship between the client, operator, design team and contractor, together with the development of an overall understanding of the sustainability agenda across the entire project team, is critical to delivering the most sustainable construction and operations of a building throughout its lifetime," explained ZHA. 

"Recent ZHA projects have achieved exemplary accreditation. The KAPSARC research centre in Riyadh and the Generali Tower in Milan were awarded LEED Platinum." 

"The Nürnberg Messe Convention Hall received its Platinum rating from the German Society for Sustainable Building (DGNB) and Leeza SOHO in Beijing obtained LEED Gold."

"ZHA is now delivering architecture around the world targeting the highest sustainability certification, including projects in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas planning carbon neutral operations."

Please read ZHA's full statement below:


Climate change is a defining challenge of our generation and Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is committed to developing solutions.

We embed sustainability into the design, procurement, construction and operations of the projects we are delivering, and we work hard to build integrated client/contractor/design team relationships that can maximise opportunities to improve systems which prioritize environmental issues and ensure cost-effective sustainability.

This collaborative relationship between the client, operator, design team and contractor, together with the development of an overall understanding of the sustainability agenda across the entire project team, is critical to delivering the most sustainable construction and operations of a building throughout its lifetime.

Recent ZHA projects have achieved exemplary accreditation. The KAPSARC research centre in Riyadh and the Generali Tower in Milan were awarded LEED Platinum. The Nürnberg Messe Convention Hall received its Platinum rating from the German Society for Sustainable Building (DGNB) and Leeza SOHO in Beijing obtained LEED Gold.

ZHA is now delivering architecture around the world targeting the highest sustainability certification, including projects in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas planning carbon neutral operations.

We continue this progress; marrying advances in sustainable design and operational systems with innovations in ecologically sound materials and construction practices. We do not look only at the disparate parts, but work to understand them as a whole to deliver effective solutions.

Regrettably we are withdrawing from Architects Declare. As a founding signatory, we agreed to continue and accelerate our work towards progressive change in our built environment. However today we need to recognise that we have a significant difference of opinion with the Architects Declare steering group on how positive change can be delivered.

For us how change is delivered requires discussion, cooperation and collaboration, and this must be debated without condemnation.

Architects Declare’s steering group has unilaterally decided on its own precise and absolute interpretation of the coalition’s commitments. By doing so, we believe they are setting the profession up for failure. Redefining these commitments without engagement undermines the coalition and trust.

We saw Architects Declare as a broad church to raise consciousness on the issues; enabling architectural practices of all sizes to build a coalition for change and help each other find solutions. We need to be progressive, but we see no advantage in positioning the profession to fail. In fact, it would be a historic mistake.

Top image: ZHA's Daxing International Airport in China. Image by NKCHU.

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