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Chris Stewart

Collective Architecture's Chris Stewart discusses his overlapping roles as architect and member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association in promoting green design to a wider audience.

COP26 Day Three

November 4th, 2021

Groundhog Day, ten to the right, ten to the left, wait a bit, negative. Covid test, passport, and delegate letter in hand, I was berated by the stewards for bringing to much proof of existence, my UN blue lanyard was all that is required to enter sustainable heaven. Through the pearly gates I floated around the blue zone dragged down by the guilt of privilege.

A day of mixed emotions panned out ahead, unsure about what the ‘high heid yins’ were agreeing, I clocked in with my RIAS pals. Finance was the theme of the day; however, Peatlands was a hot topic of debate. Avoiding the nature tent, which was mobbed by homo sapiens desperate to pay homage to Mr Attenborough, I made for what has become my favourite watering hole, the Cryosphere Pavilion. A spot brimming with science, and I wallowed in a talk from the Peatlands and Land Quality Unit, to discover our Scottish Bog and Peatlands rival the Amazon Rainforest as a carbon sink and there is much we can protect, restore, and increase.

The next hour I spent dipping in and out of pavilions and talks ranging from African finance to Dutch rising sea wall technology, which having moved on from the thumb in the dike, to world leading engineering cannot cope with a rise greater than one meter (a real possibility) and are planning a move to Germany. Thinking about calling it a day I stumbled across some architecture at the Nordic Pavilion. A young Danish architect, an old Danish architect, a young observer and the elderly president of the U.I.A. we’re having a chat which summed up my day. On one half of the platform the two younger panellists shone with forward thinking ideas centred around collaboration, reuse of structure and net gain architecture while the other side dwelled on, can architects save the world, will we miss iconic buildings, are we supermen or even god. To be fair I think there was an element of provocation and the president of the U.I.A. made some very good points, however I left with the feeling that the era of the starchitect was still alive and kicking, or at least through their Ann Rand designer lens.

My day flitted from darkness to light and back again however I chose to leave with the brighter, youthful thoughts of a net gain architecture, in my head.  There is though still time for the darkness to return, I know not what happened in the ‘high heid yin’ tent apart from Biden has gone home and everything seems to have been agreed up front. I might just leave the telly switched off.


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