Stay away from unethical projects, says architect


Architects should “do the right thing” and walk away from projects they consider unethical according to Stirling Prize-winner Steve Tompkins

The profession should use its collective voice to insist on sustainable design, said the Haworth Tompkins founder.

Speaking on the opening day of the Ecobuild conference in London he said: “We have to work more ethically,” he said. “We are in a position to negotiate or withhold our labour if we think a project is being driven in the wrong direction.


“There is an element of protest in being an architect.”

He said his practice, which won the Stirling Prize last year for Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre (pictured) is selective about which clients it works with.

He said:  “We have to try to insist collectively on an ethical position in the way we work. We all know ethically what the right course of action is but it often gets drowned out in the procurement process or in the choice between your favourite detail or material and a low-energy strategy that no one will see in the journals.

“That’s easy; that’s up to us; we just have to get on with it.

“But the other thing – and it’s incumbent on the whole construction industry to take this issue more seriously – is we have to work more ethically.

“There comes a point where you simply have to withdraw from a project, or don’t work with people who aren’t going to listen. It’s commercially difficult but I think we have to do it.

“I think increasingly we have to make our voices heard. Now is the time to do the right thing explicitly and implicitly.”


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