Why the San Marino Declaration is the Hippocratic Oath for architects

todayOctober 18, 2022


Why the San Marino Declaration is the Hippocratic Oath for architects

Norman Foster launched the San Marino Declaration on 3rd October 2022 at the 83rd session of the UNECE Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management.

The UN has strongly urged architects, city shapers, and engineers to put these sustainability principles into action.

Dezeen’s Tom Ravenscroft wrote that the San Marino Declaration is a Hippocratic oath for architects.

san marino declaration Hippocrates Oath architects-1

Jackie De Burca, of Constructive Voices, explored this with top architect, Daniel Jaconetti, who is the National Sustainable Design Leader at (HED) Harley Ellis Devereaux.

Daniel Jaconetti on the San Marino Declaration

A declaration by the UN, which is really a set of principles for a sustainable and inclusive future of urban design and architecture. And so people who are finding affinity with this are agreeing to do several things, all germane to the design of buildings in cities.

So it works at two scales.: The micro-scale, and also the Urban Planning scale, designing these things, buildings, and cities in a way that limits the use of energy.

..They’re going a little further to or agreeing to only using sustainable energy sources. So wind, hydro, tidal, solar, reuse of rainwater, limit the use of other natural resources, use salvaged or recycled materials where possible.

And this one I kind of really like because it’s a little less traditional and unexpected, but it’s consistent with things that I’ve been seeing here.: Respect the identity and cultural heritage of places and buildings.

In Dezeen, Tom Ravenscroft wrote that the declaration is Hippocratic oath for architects

In Dezeen, Tom Ravenscroft wrote that the declaration is Hippocratic oath for architects. Daniel Jaconetti investigates this metaphor in an excellent way.

Daniel Jaconetti, AIA, LEED AP | National Sustainable Design Leader

I think it’s a really, really good comparison or metaphor. Let’s pick a particular specialty of medicine. Plastic Surgery. And if a potential patient went into a consultation with a plastic surgeon and asked them for something that was going to turn out bad. Like, you know, came from the wrong motivation, or, you know, just wasn’t going to work out the way they thought.

That plastic surgeon has an oath to not just say yes, and take their money and turn them into Frankenstein, but they’re supposed to educate them and help them understand this is not going to yield a positive outcome.

So we architects and engineers and other building design professionals have a similar responsibility to educate our clients, as to the implications of what they’re trying to do.

Briefly touching on politics without getting too political, but years ago, here in the United States, there were a bunch of firms that just agreed that they were not going to compete in the RFP to build the border wall that former President Trump was trying to build because they just did not believe it was the right thing to do. So that’s standing by your principles and not just saying, oh, I want the money.

I think that we have that responsibility and AIA (the American Institute of Architects), which is our professional association here in the US, has codified this in our code of conduct, that we have a professional responsibility to engage in and educate our clients on matters of climate change, and environmental responsibility in everything we do. So I think it was a really good metaphor.

You can listen to Daniel Jaconetti in Episode 10: How do Europe and America compare when it comes to Green Building

Coming soon, you will also be able to hear Daniel and other guests on our streaming Constructive Voices News Radio Station.

Written by: Jackie De Burca

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