Prototype for a carbon zero world
As the impacts of climate change are now felt in real time, the idea of sustainability in architecture is being questioned. Having doubled our global carbon output in the last 30 years – when compared to all carbon emitted in all of civilisation prior to that – sustainable architecture and its various ratings systems have proved ineffective. Lost in calculations to try and prove the unsustainable is sustainable, we need simpler techniques that are more visible and understandable – and effective.
This project, for TERROIR’s own office in Hobart, Tasmania, is an experiment that challenges the paradox of “sustainable architecture”. Occupying a space with an abandoned office fit out from the 1960s, all previous partitions were still in place when we arrived. Given this, we took a conceptual decision to sidestep the various carbon calculators and claims for low carbon by instead simply emitting zero carbon – by building nothing new at all.
We have long argued that sustainability is not a technical problem but an aesthetic problem. We need, as a society, to find beauty in the accidental and contingent, not the perfect and crystalline. This embrace of contingency allows us to explore new forms and spaces that re-use as much as they can. Resources are spent on the contractors, not the materials.
This project is small but is a manifesto for a different sort of practice that is more and more urgent to embrace. It lessons are already informing larger projects in our quest to continue making places which support the interactions of people and place, but in a way that uses less resources than ever before.
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