On Ethics of Architects

In an article in the magazine trans 28 Charlotte Malterre-Barthes writes about the ethics of architects. She stats that building comes with a responsibility which is not only concerned about economics. It comes with a political and social obligation. Some architects claim that architecture is detached from social, political and economical factors. They design for regimes with brutal dictators and in doubtful security conditions programs which are ethically questionable. Politically, viewed from the West, there are some countries which are not ethically accepted, for example countries with low democracy standards. But this facts did not keep several Western architects from building in these countries. A movement in the USA, called ‘Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility’ The members of this association refuse to design spaces which violate humane life and dignity, such as spaces for solitary confinement, torture, or cruel degrading. They claim this to be fundamentally incompatible with a professional practice that respects standards of decency and human rights. There is also a moral dilemma in working on projects which are harmful to poorer populations through gentrification. Gentrification has become a global issue that can be witnessed everywhere. Many famous architects take part in this issues with urban redevelopments. An example of gentrification is the large-scale project Europaalee with contributions by David Chipperfield, Max Dudler and Gigon/Guyer. An infiltration by financial institutions and upscale housing units leads to the destruction of the working class, immigrants, artists community. Malterre-Barthes concludes that the question of ethics concerns all architects, everywhere. When considering the type of materials used in construction, housing standards and environmental issues, the spectrum of dilemma becomes even bigger. So, an architect has to decide whether to build or not. Architects often have stood against demolition or against building. They are the prove that ethics in architecture exists.

Malterre-Barthes, C. On the Ethics of Architects: To build or not to build. In trans 28 – Zweifel (pp. 78–81).

On Ethics of Architects

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