ARC•PEACE

International Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility

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 ARC●PEACE Mission Statement 2014

(adopted at the General Assembly meeting in Vienna 28 April 2014)

Translations (PDF):

A world in rapid and dynamic transition A number of critical changes on a global level affect both national and local conditions for social development and therefore community planning.

Climate change presents humanity with an urgent need for action. Currently planned efforts to stop climate change will be insufficient, so that droughts, flash floods, rising sea levels resulting in inundation of large low lying coastal areas including cities and critical infrastructure, and other climate related catastrophes will not be avoided. Cities, towns and regions are directly impacted and so is the livelihood for masses, particularly the underprivileged and the poor. “Climate refugees” will be a factor in the restructuring of the world’s population in the near future, particularly for the lower income population where they are most at risk. Other forms of environmental pollution due to over consumption and broken waste cycles jeopardize ecological diversity, poison the world seas and generate mountains of waste.

We face a choice between continued fossil fuel use with continuing greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of environmental devastation, or a transition to renewable energy that should have begun decades ago. On the other hand, fuel remains expensive and constitutes a serious problem in many southern countries due to income discrepancies. The incompetence and greed of the market economy prevents a rational choice and spawns new national crises that lead to poverty and concentration of economic power on a global level, posing threats to citizen participation, self-government, and democracy in all countries.

The "war on terror” has pushed aside Human Rights and democratic principles and put in their place indiscriminate imprisonment, torture and the development of new weapons in violation of principles of international law. Moreover, the portrayal of war and conflict by mainstream media remains biased and has therefore lead to growing mistrust by the public. While civil society continues to work for nonviolent conflict resolution and equitable forms of democracy, these efforts are increasingly ignored or violently repressed by political leaders and governments around the world, abetted by the nuclear weapons and conventional arms industries. Efforts to achieve environmental sustainability must be connected to work for social justice, human rights, and democracy.

For the individual architect, designer and community planner these global changes might seem distant and irrelevant to their daily professional life, but in many countries and in many professional situations these external factors affect the immediate conditions of their work as well as their ability to participate in civic life more broadly. ARC●PEACE contributes to a creative analysis of these factors, advocate against all types of resultant social injustice and connects our members who are struggling for peace, sustainability, and justice. Professional roles under stress The professions of architecture and planning have emerged and changed over a long period of time. For most of our history, buildings and objects were shaped by traditions of craftsmanship built on local values and material conditions. Over time, design, construction and community planning went through a rapid change when Modernism emerged and co-joined with Industrialism in the beginning of the 20th century. A more rigid and hierarchical structure of professional services and segmentation of knowledge emerged, reflecting the class structure, economic conditions, and domination of Europe and North America. Now a similar conflict between bottom-up and top-down planning, eco-friendly design and use of materials in construction is mostly apparent in China, India, Brazil and other newly emerging economies. Unregulated urban land price and real-estate values have largely alienated the underprivileged and the poor from affordable and reasonable housing.

Because of globalization, this struggle is no longer national but international in character. The international consulting world abets the integration of all places into a global market- and consumption-centred society without regard for local conditions, needs, or values. It also places

professionals into increasing competition with each other, driving down the value of local knowledge and leading to exploitation of workers at all levels and in all countries.

For the individual architect, designer and community planner these changes to their working conditions present new prerequisites of competence, independence, knowledge and the ability to adapt to local conditions and expectations. Yet it is hard but not impossible for the individual, incorporated in big businesses, to assert integrity and control over working conditions. ARC●PEACE should analyse these new conditions and their professional consequences, and connect professionals working to replace these problems with better systems. ARC●PEACE goals The role of ARC●PEACE is to interpret changes in the professional environment and to develop strategies to help professionals face these challenges. This includes:

  • To influence other professional organizations through a continuous dialogue regarding professionals' responsibilities, ethics, competence and transparency;
  • To support and connect individual members and groups in their effort to realize ARC●PEACE goals in their everyday work;
  • To influence and participate in the development of education in all our professions with particular focus on inter-disciplinary approaches to encourage the inclusion of social and environmental education in the broader architecture education;
  • To actively initiate and encourage inclusive public debate concerning the role of both the theory and practice of architecture, design and community planning in the establishment of a sustainable society;
  • To develop our own independent media to transmit and discuss ARC●PEACE values and standpoints with the public;To share favourable examples of successful practices and projects for guidance and inspiration;
  • To recognise diversity, local wisdom, tradition and culture in design and planning processes;
  • To promote the 3R principles of Reuse, Reduce, Recycle within architecture and planning utilising existing community structures, irrespective of gender, age and creed, to create a sense of mutuality and ownership.