Umdenken Umschwenken

Environmental Engagement and Swiss Architecture 1

Authored by: Kim Förster

The Routledge Companion to Architecture and Social Engagement

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138889699
eBook ISBN: 9781315712697
Adobe ISBN:


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In architecture history, the environmental turn of the 1970s, often attributed to the rise of an ecological consciousness and responsibility in Western societies, has recently been argumentatively linked to the military-industrial-academic complex. Seen as a historic milestone, the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, discussing environment and development especially in the global south, revealed that man’s impact on earth became established as a political issue, and that Western and Eastern Bloc countries alike as a reaction founded environmental departments, yet with different tasks. Many historians note that corporate capital at this crucial point in history, too, recognized the looming ecological crisis, as demonstrated by the publication of Limits to Growth in the same year, a study of MIT scholars on behalf of the Club of Rome first presented at St. Gallen Symposium, Switzerland, producing different scenarios regarding world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion and predicting that if the global economy continued according to the business-as-usual model, earth’s limits would soon be reached (Meadows et al. 1972). However, issues of environmental ethics and justice back then already encompassed a critique of economic paradigm of growth and the belief in technological progress, dominant in industrialized societies during those decades that became known as the great acceleration.

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