Since 2006, when former US Vice-President Al Gore ﬁrst announced An Inconvenient Truth in the cinemas this truth has become noticeably more inconvenient. In the 21st century 16 of 17 warmest years since 1880 have been measured and the last four years were those with the highest global average temperatures. Global warming in the Anthropocene is advancing so rapidly that eminent climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber recently compared it with the situation after the asteroid impact 66 million years ago, which killed three quarters of all species. His quintessential statement: “If we’re not able to get a grip on climate change, we don’t need to think any more about income distribution, racism and good taste.”
The building sector plays a major role in emitting the greenhouse gases that cause warming. The branch has reacted to this by trimming building stock to minimise CO₂ emissions through new buildings and renovations. But in the course of these renovation works does the industry not produce so much CO₂ that the remainder of the emissions budget available in the framework of the climate goals will be used up in a few years’ time? As our author Sasha Cisar shows in this issue, a cultural change from replacing to retaining building fabric and from employing materials that use up CO₂ to those that bind it is urgently needed. To apply Schelln huber’s warning to the building branch: if we don’t get a grip on climate change, then we don’t need to reﬂect any longer about building culture, ﬂoor plans and proportions.
While there is a keen awareness of this theme among those who make architecture in this country, few answers that use the means of architecture are given. Perhaps this is because climate change is still seen as the problem of “the others”. But anyone designing a building today is doing this for a very diﬀerent climate than the present one. H Arquitectes from Catalonia show how climate-conscious buildings can be made using the means of architecture itself—without elaborate technology and air-tight building envelopes. In this sense the search is for innovative as well as traditional answers to the question about how we can keep our planet and our buildings inhabitable. We asked architects about this and looked at cities that are undertaking adaptation work for the warmer times ahead. — Benjamin Muschg, Daniel Kurz