We are in a climate and ecological emergency, and we need immediate action.
So, how should you react when the profession your heart and soul is set upon contributing to does not publicly acknowledge nor actively address the greatest existential threat to humanity’s collective future?
Even more so, what should you do when the education system supporting that profession – that you have spent five years within – does not prepare anyone to work appropriately within the context of climatic breakdown, and perpetuates a culture that actively damages the mental health of thousands within it?
Do you join the rank and file of photogenic, photorealistic nonresponse or do you speak out, stand up and openly rebel, risking unemployability but safeguarding your ideological integrity, at peace in the knowledge that you passionately advocated for doing what is best for the wellbeing of both people and the planet we rely upon?
What I chose to do was to initiate the Anthropocene Architecture School: a decentralised, alternative school of architecture that does not shy away from activism to regeneratively revolutionise an education system that is obsolete in the face of climate change, and to set out to guarantee that the education every practitioner of architecture receives from the university environment through to practise is Climate Emergency Compliant.
What I expected when launching this idea was a vehement backlash and was fully prepared to weather it but was instead met with enthusiasm, relief and support - support from all across the U.K., all the way to Australia.
This is all well and good, but an endeavour of such a scale requires funding to expand it, and to be able to demonstrate it can make enough to meet the criteria to establish an ethical bank account (£5000ish+) - as well as funding to enable those running it to be able to pay the bills under capitalism, so here we are!
So far, the Anthropocene Architecture School held its inaugural launch in the form of an inclusive participatory workshop during Scotland's Architecture Fringe in the June of 2019 in the Britannia Panopticon - where the full cost of the venue hire was crowdfunded and went towards the building's restoration, whilst running a social media campaign and compiling a Climate Breakdown Reading List that was made freely available to direct people towards useful literature outside of traditional reading lists.
Not content at simply addressing issues in education - and because the climate crisis is so vast, the Anthropocene Architecture School is beginning to get actively engaged in catalysing action across whole cities and within city infrastructures with urgency and is soon set to host the U.K.'s first-ever Climate Emergency Compliant Cities hackathon in Edinburgh as part of Extinction Rebellion Scotland's residency at the Edinburgh Fringe which shall serve as a pilot to prepare to roll these out across Scotland, and hopefully the entirety of the U.K. in time.
This is a labour of love, and of passion, and carries a great sense of urgency as the news of our climate crisis gets ever-heavier and the positive responses I have received have been overwhelmingly heartwarming but in order to meet the challenge in architectural education and beyond head-on this funding is vital.
This is the step necessary to take the Anthropocene Architecture School from being a Glasgow/Edinburgh-centric occasional happening to be able to sustain itself as it begins to plan and carry out campaigns across the U.K. - it is necessary for it to gather the necessary momentum for it to be taken seriously enough for the architectural education system to finally wake-up and to finally take climate change and sustainability seriously, and to regeneratively change in the way in which a climate emergency necessitates.