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ACAN calls Foster + Partners to withdraw its new Amaala resort airport amidst climate concerns

United Kingdom Architecture News - Jul 23, 2020 - 12:14   1803 views

ACAN calls Foster + Partners to withdraw its new Amaala resort airport amidst climate concerns

Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) has called on Foster + Partners to withdraw its new Amaala resort airport in Saudi Arabia in the midst of climate concerns and reconsider its position in Architects Declare, a movement declaring climate and biodiversity emergency initiated by UK architects.

ACAN published an open letter in its website and sent the letter to Foster + Partners to stop its involvement in a new ultra-luxury tourism project on Saudi Arabia's northwestern coast, the Red Sea coast. It will comprise a terminal building and a tower, the project's first plans were released last month

Although the letter specifically targets the firm's new project in Saudi Arabia, ACAN has drawn attention to all UK architects and called them not to involve in aviation expansion projects since aviation industry is responsible for 3% global carbon emissions, according to the European Aviation Environmental Report 2019

"Our network strongly believes that UK architecture practices should not be working to expand aviation in the midst of this climate emergency. Aviation is an extremely carbon-intensive mode of transport," ACAN said in its letter.

ACAN said to Foster + Partners: "pause your involvement in aviation expansion until such time as the sector has achieved carbon neutrality."

"If a practice of your status, influence and renown were to walk away from aviation expansion, this would have a significant impact and send a compelling message about the urgent need to scale back the most extreme forms of extractivism," ACAN added.

ACAN calls Foster + Partners to reconsider its position in Architects Declare movement

ACAN also called Foster + Partners to reconsider its position in Architects Declare movement. The firm was involved in the movement  a founding signatory. 

Architects Declare was initiated in May 2019 as not-for-profit organization with a group of UK architects to tackle climate change and called architects from all over the world to "demand a paradigm shift in behaviour."  

Zaha Hadid Architects, David Chipperfield Architects, Foster + Partners, AL_A, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Alison Brooks Architects are among the signatories in the movement. The movement has now signatories over 20 countries around the world.  

"As a founding signatory of Architects Declare you have publicly proclaimed that we are in the midst of a climate emergency, which poses an existential threat to much of life on this planet," said ACAN. 

"You have made pledges including to “Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to  adopt this approach."

ACAN calls Foster + Partners to withdraw its new Amaala resort airport amidst climate concerns

Image courtesy of AMAALA

Foster + Partners' new Amaala resort airport in Saudi Arabia

Last month, first images were released for a new ultra-luxury tourism project on Saudi Arabia's northwestern coast. The complex will be comprised of a terminal building and a tower - which was conceptualized by the UK based architecture practice Foster + Partners. The airport master plan was designed by Egis, an international consultancy and engineering group. 

The firm takes inspiration from "the optical illusion of a desert mirage", the new airport is expected for completion in 2023 and is estimated to accommodate one million travellers per year once it officially opens.

Set in the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve across three unique communities, the 4,155 square kilometre (1,604 square mile) year-round destination will include 2,500 hotel keys and more than 800 residential villas, apartments and estate homes, alongside 200 high-end retail establishments, fine dining, wellness and recreational facilities.

Read the full letter of ACAN sent to Foster + Partners below:


Dear Foster + Partners,

RE: Recently announced new Amaala resort airport

We’re writing to you as Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN), a network of individuals within architecture and related built environment professions taking action to address the climate and ecological crises. Following the announcement of your Amaala resort airport, we are concerned about this project and your continuing involvement in aviation expansion.

Our network strongly believes that UK architecture practices should not be working to expand aviation in the midst of this climate emergency. Aviation is an extremely carbon-intensive mode of transport. Expanding aviation capacity cannot be reconciled with meaningful action to achieve the rapid global decarbonisation that is urgently required. The way humans are living on this planet is fundamentally unsustainable and pursuing a business as usual approach will not bring about the change that we all know is necessary.

As a founding signatory of Architects Declare you have publicly proclaimed that we are in the midst of a climate emergency, which poses an existential threat to much of life on this planet. You have made pledges including to “Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.”

As such, ACAN respectfully ask that you:

1. Withdraw your involvement in the Amaala resort airport. 2. Pause your involvement in aviation expansion until such time as the sector has achieved carbon neutrality.

If a practice of your status, influence and renown were to walk away from aviation expansion, this would have a significant impact and send a compelling message about the urgent need to scale back the most extreme forms of extractivism.

If you decide to continue with this project and aviation expansion more broadly, we wish to know how you are reconciling that position with your Architects Declare commitments and the global imperative for rapid decarbonisation. We invite you to open a dialogue with us on these matters.

If you are unwilling to relinquish your involvement in aviation expansion and find yourselves unable to reconcile these projects with the declaration points, we suggest that you consider stepping down from Architects Declare for the time being, in order to safeguard the integrity and credibility of the initiative.

Fundamentally this letter invites you to consider what your role will be in this extraordinary historical moment. Will you continue with business as usual, enabling a system that is pushing life on earth closer to the brink of disaster? Or, will you find the leadership and courage to make some difficult and uncomfortable decisions?

Whether or not humanity is equal to the task of contending with this crisis may depend in large part upon the cumulative effect of many such decisions. We hope that you will consider the above carefully before deciding how to proceed.

We very much look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

ACAN


Top image courtesy of AMAALA

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