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More top architects throw their weight behind AJ RetroFirst campaign

More top architects throw their weight behind AJ RetroFirst campaign

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Zaha Hadid Architects and O’Donnell + Tuomey have all thrown their weight behind the RetroFirst campaign, which calls on the government to promote and incentivise the reuse of existing buildings in the face of the climate emergency.

RetroFirst, which was launched at the AJ’s annual Retrofit Awards in September, calls for government action to underpin greater use of retrofit and refurbishment in three key areas: tax, procurement and policy.

The list of prominent supporters continues to grow and last month Foster + Partners, Grimshaw and Heatherwick Studios all announced their backing.

RSHP partner John McElgunn confirmed his practice’s ‘strong support’ for the campaign.

‘We must consider the adaptive reuse, refurbishment and retrofit of buildings as part of a longer-term life cycle of our built environment in order to mitigate the environmental impact of our growing cities, he said. ‘Long-term flexibility must become a standard doctrine for all design briefs.’

Zaha Hadid Architects chief executive Mouzhan Majidi said it was critical that disused architecture should become a ‘recycled asset’ rather than ‘consumptive waste’.

He added: ‘The AJ’s RetroFirst campaign seeks to extend the life of existing structures and has our full support. ZHA is proud of our track record in retrofit architecture that includes Port House in Antwerp, Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London and the MAXXI Museum in Rome – all inventive designs which incorporate the reuse of existing buildings.’

Sheila O’Donnell of Dublin-based O’Donnell + Tuomey, who with her partner John Tuomey won the RIBA Gold Medal in 2015, reflected on the value of working with historic buildings during an AJ/Roca lecture held at the Roca London gallery last month.

Speaking this week, she said adapting existing structures could ‘lead to the most innovative and dynamic buildings’.

She added: ‘We support the aims of this campaign to put a priority on the re-use of existing structures.

Buildings embody history as well as energy; they carry memories and material and cultural values. Things that can’t be easily measured but are worth so much to their future users and to society.

‘We shouldn’t demolish without considering the potential for re-use, even when it’s not immediately obvious.’

Confirming Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ support, managing partner Ian Taylor said the industry already had the skills to extend a building’s life and ‘benefit from the embodied carbon in foundations and built fabric’.

He added: ‘Retaining, retrofitting and intensifying the use of existing buildings is a key means to tackle the climate emergency.

‘With wider understanding, and financial and environmental incentives to reuse our existing building stock, benefits will become more apparent to the whole property and construction industry, reframing the approach to development for the better.’

Meanwhile Paul Appleton, a partner at Allies and Morrison – which announced its backing for RetroFirst last month – called the way in which we demolish and rebuild a form of ‘madness’.

He said: ‘The throw-away society starts by discarding its richest assets; the ground on which we walk and the buildings we inhabit. The act of constructing a building is so difficult, the environmental cost so large and the cultural effect of occupying it so charged, that we should value those which exist as much as we value the land on which they are built.’ 

How you can get involved

Follow the progress of RetroFirst using #retrofirst on social media
Contact us at retrofirst@emap.com to back the campaign

 Campaign supporters
Architects’ Climate Action Network
Historic Environment Scotland
Town Country Planning Association (TCPA)
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)
UK Green Building Council
Alison Brooks Architects
Amos Goldreich Architecture
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM)
Allies and Morrison
Bennetts Associates
Boano Prišmontas
Bryden Wood
Caruso St John Architects
Connolly Wellingham Architects
Curl La Tourelle Head Architecture
David Chipperfield Architects
DNA Architecture
ECD Architects
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Foster + Partners
Gardner Stewart Architects
Gort Scott
Heatherwick Studio
Henley Halebrown
Haworth Tompkins
Ian Ritchie Architects
Jestico + Whiles
LTS Architects
Morrow + Lorraine Architects
O’Donnell + Tuomey
Paul Testa Architecture
Penoyre Prasad
Robert Rhodes Architecture + Interiors
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Scott Brownrigg
Stephen Taylor Architects
Steve Ritchie Partnership
Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
Syndicate West Architects
Type3 Studio
Ullmayer Sylvester Architects
Whittaker Parsons
Witherford Watson Mann
Zaha Hadid Architects
Clara Bagenal George, Elementa Consulting
Hero Bennett, Max Fordham
Duncan Baker-Brown, BBM Sustainable Design
Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington
Kelly Harrison, Heyne Tillett Steele
Joe Holyoak, architect and urban designer
Walter Menteth, architect and procurement reform campaigner
Alice Moncaster, senior lecturer at School of Engineering and Innovation at The Open University
David Ness, adjunct professor at the School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia
Paul O’Neil, Bryden Wood
Simon Sturgis, Targeting Zero
James Traynor, ECD Architects 
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