ARCH+ Business Architecture. A Question of Value

As practicing architects, we are currently confronted, both in practice and in teaching, with a young generation that interprets the existing system of building and its logic of value creation very differently. While some see the economic indicators such as greater investment volume, rising salaries, and increasing construction sums, as an opportunity to profit from the omnipresent growth through working hard enough, others see them as the symptoms of a multiple crisis. As part of the so called "last generation," they are directly threatened by the climate crisis, the pandemic, wars and rising inflation: 37.9 percent of the students in Germany were at risk of poverty in 2021 (1), thousands organized themselves in the more than 500 local groups of Fridays for Future. They focus on a completely different value: the 38 percent of global CO2 emissions for which the construction industry is responsible (2) / compared to 40 percent in Germany (3). Architects and their supposed purpose of building are part of the problem.

This young generation questions the existing values and measurement systems such as the GDP (gross domestic product), since the unequal distribution of wealth, unpaid labor, or damages to humans, animals, and nature are not taken into account. Moreover natural disasters, accidents, or wars have a positive impact on these metrics (4) as repair works are reflected in economic growth, which results in an increase in GDP even in humanitarian emergencies. Acknowledging this fact, we as architects have to face the problem of how to establish a viable practice that " allows for financial self-preservation in times of post-growth" (5).

How does a practice look like that pursues other goals than competition and growth and takes into account values such as the common good and maintenance? How do we establish a self-understanding of the profession that combines the two meanings of value, monetary on the one hand and ethical-social on the other? So, what to do?

"For one part the value of architecture can be found in the built. For example, how we organize space and work most efficiently with limited resources such as land and materials. But there is a lot more than providing the service of building. We have to redefine the role of the architect as someone who is able to address the great challenges of today. Someone who can read these issues systemically and dissect their full complexity, beyond a narrow interpretation of individual liberty and creativity. We must return to the social premise of architecture and commit ourselves to a common goal. This capacity can become architects main value." (Oana Bogdan) Read more

(1) Statistisches Bundesamt: Pressemitteilung Nr. N066, 26.11.2022, (Stand: 2.2.2023)

(2) UN Environment Programme: 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction – Towards a zero-emissions, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector, S. 4, Buildings%20GSR_FULL%20REPORT.pdf

(3) Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung: Umweltfußabdruck von Gebäuden in Deutschland, 2020, S. 25

(4) Vgl. Endlich Wachstum: „BIP“, in: dies.: Die zwei Seiten der Medaille – Argumente für und gegen Wirtschaftswachstum, content/uploads/2015/09/Kapitel-1_Medaillen_BIP.pdf

(5) Vgl. Saskia Hebert bei der BDA-Veranstaltung „Glaube. Liebe. Hoffnung.
Wir schaffen das“ am 24.9.2021 im Rahmen des Begleitprogramms des Deutschen Pavillons 2038 – The New Serenity der Architekturbiennale in Venedig Read less

Berlin / Zurich
ARCH+ with Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert (station+, DARCH, ETH Zurich)
Arno Brandlhuber, Ludwig Engel, Olaf Grawert, Jolene Lee (s+); Nora Dünser, Felix Hofmann, Sascha Kellermann, Victor Lortie, Lukas Meyer, Anh-Linh Ngo, Jakob Walter (ARCH+); Franziska Gödicke, Luke Handon, Moritz Heuberger (b+); Peer Hempel, Finn Rodenberg, André van Rueth (Stan Hema)
Assemble, Milena Buchwalder, Lorenz Bachmann, Laszlo Blaser, Theresa Behling, Lukas Fink (, Paul Barth, Nick Beech, Manuel Bokanyi, Oana Bogdan (&bogdan), Anje Boldt, Ondrej Chybik (Chybik+Kristof), Leonhard Clemens, Marisa Cortright, Peggy Deamer, Paola de Martin, Elke Doppelbauer, Pierre Escobar (l'atelier nomadic architecture studio), Ana Filipović, Andrea Gebhard (BAK), Maria Shéhérazade Giudici, Peter Grundmann, Gabu Heindl, Bernhard Kurz, Johannes Krohne, Verena Limmer-Mahrous (IFUB*), Jan Knikker (MVRDV), Will Orr, Marthijn Pool (Space&Matter), Ricardo Ruivo, Ruth Schagemann (ACE), Carl-Stephan Schweer, Douglas Spencer, Leonie Wagner, Susanne Wartzeck (BDA), Finn Williams, Sarah Wirth
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