International Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility


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Architecture and planning under different political systems

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International Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility
Dick Urban Vestbro (editor)

This book is meant to make a contribution to the international debate on architecture and physical planning, on the tasks and ethical responsibilities of architects and planners in the political systems in which they work.

The book was initiated at the beginning of 2013 by Sven Thiberg, the co-founder and former chairman of ARC•PEACE. He then submitted an application for funding from the Swedish Association of Architects, which granted us a sum of USD 1000. This allowed us to arrange a panel debate on Architecture and Planning under Different Political Systems in connection with ARC•PEACE’s General Assembly meeting in Vienna in April 2014. (It covered travel costs for panelists with scarce resources plus some administrative costs).

Later on an invitation was sent out calling on ARC•PEACE members to send contributions to this book. There was a tremendous response, resulting in no less than 15 willing authors. 

ARC•PEACE – a network of committed professionals

At the 1987 congress of the International Union of Architects (UIA) in Brighton, representatives of Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) in USA, the Soviet Union Institute of Architects, Architects against Nuclear Arms in Sweden and colleagues from Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, UK and other countries decided to form International Architects Designers Planners for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IADPPNW. The decision was supported by UIA, and many official national architect associations/institutes decided to become members. The name of the organisation was influenced by the existence of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, whose statues were copied to some extent. 

However, already at the meeting in Stockholm 1988 – when our organisation was formally founded – proposals were made to widen the scope of IADPPNW to include work against all arms of mass destruction and for the environment. A working group was appointed to make a proposal, which was presented at the meeting in Prague 1989. The meeting recommended the Charter to include these ideas, to change the name into Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility and to revise the Charter also with respect to a more effective administrative structure. The meeting in Montreal 1990 adopted the name “ARC•PEACE Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility” and the meeting in Chicago 1993 adopted a new Charter reflecting these proposals. 

At the beginning of the 1990s most of the official architect organisations ceased to be members of ARC•PEACE. Instead ARC•PEACE became more of a network consisting of activist groups and individual members. After the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, at which ARC•PEACE participated actively, our network gained status as a Non-Governmental Organisation in consultative status with ECOSOC (economic, environmental, social and human rights issues).” (ARC•PEACE Charter 2014) 

A book on professional responsibilities 

The background to this book is that ARC•PEACE experiences that the market forces our professions to neglect both human rights and citizens’ right to influence their own environment. 

We also note that basic claims to environmental sustainability are disregarded when fast urbanization is requested. The intention of the book is to draw attention to these facts and to mobilize resistance. 

Hereby, we utilize the international network of ARC•PEACE members. These committed professionals are able to highlight the challenges and potential that physical planners and architects can exercise to promote human rights, citizens’ influence, and democratic planning processes in professional work in the societies in which they participate. 8 

After a preparatory seminar in Vienna in April 2014, we now have this volume with fifteen contributions. 

Three themes 

We have tried to organise the book along dominating themes. It was not simple to group the contributions in sharply divided categories because of the variegated and creative material. But three perspectives are still prominent. 

From modernism to neo-modernism 

The reader will find a basic analysis of the shift of paradigms within architecture and planning from modernism to neo-modernism as a consequence of the social and economic changes in societies. This could be a framework for all the presentations in the book. 

Theory-oriented papers deal with global neo-modernism as political dogma and thereby as a prerequisite for architecture and planning in both North and South. 

On professional and personal ethics 

A determining factor and the key question for this publication is: Which competence and ethical integrity are our professions able to and prepared to mobilize when they meet strong political resistance against Human Rights and sustainability in practice? Some papers deal especially with professional vs. personal ethics as a philosophic question, but the theme is present as an underlying challenge in all contributions. 

Experiences indicate that personal/professional ethics are essential in projects in developing countries and in conflict areas where the struggle for democratic planning systems is urgent. 

Planning and politics in different environments 

The overall theme of the publication – the relationship between planning and political systems – is discussed directly or indirectly in all the papers. Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America and USA are represented. The presentations deal with both regional and national conditions, with reference to both historical roots and on-going political processes. 

Together, the different contributions form a source of understanding of how similarities and differences between political systems exert an influence on architecture and planning and what professional and ethical challenges architects and planners meet in their own environments. 

Hopefully this book will function as a source of knowledge and a point of departure for debate in both basic and further education within the professions and in public discourse. 

Herewith we would like to thank all the committed and persevering authors who have participated in realizing the project. 

Stockholm in November 2014 

Dick Urban Vestbro, Sven Thiberg


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Additional Info

  • Author: Published by ARC•PEACE 2014
  • Number of Pages: 120
Read 2655 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 08:09