Cape Farewell

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Peter Clegg

Architect 

Peter Clegg joined Cape Farewell on the March 2005 Art/Science Expedition, joining the Noorderlicht locked in ice at Tempelfjorden, just north of the 79th parallel, Svalbard.

Peter is a Senior Partner with Feilden Clegg Bradley, having established the practice with Richard Feilden in 1978. Educated at Cambridge and Yale, he is a Visiting Professor at the University of Bath. He has more than 25 years’ experience in low energy architecture and is actively involved in research and environmental design. He was elected Chair of the South West Design Review Panel in August 2005, part of a new national initiative to provide expert reviews of development proposals. He was elected to the board of TRADA from 2002 - 2005 and has also served as a member of the National Trust’s Architecture Panel. In September 2005 Peter was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Oxford Brookes University.

"I was at a seminar last week which looked at the subject of architectural research. I came away with the sense of the unfortunate fragmentation between architectural practice, teaching and research. By contrast, I believe that the research work going on here is facing head-on the charges that the profession has to meet in respect of global warming which as David King, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, has suggested constitute the most serious problem that we face today. It is because of the growing reputation of this institution in this field that I am particularly delighted to accept this Doctorate.

The environmental agenda in architecture has shaped the work that I have been involved with over the last 30 years. Originally the motivation came from concerns over fossil fuel depletion and then more recently the threat of creating an artificial environment that is gradually destroying the natural one. Buildings are responsible for more than 50% of carbon dioxide emissions in this country. Cement production is responsible for a staggering 10% of CO2 emissions worldwide. Much of those depleted tropical rain forests end up within our buildings. And the toxicity of the chemicals which we use to create the internal finishes of our buildings has been shown to have serious impacts on our health. As architects we have a lot to answer for and a lot to learn.

The sand is now shifting beneath our feet. Climate change is beginning to kick in and has added a couple of degrees to peak summertime temperatures and our insatiable appetite for more power at our fingertips means that electrical usage is going to be adding to CO2 emissions and producing heat as a bi-product which will lead to a greater demand for air conditioning and yet more electrical use. It is a vicious cycle that we must break before it becomes entrenched in our expectations.

Despite all this what we have learnt over the last 25 years nevertheless leaves me with a sense of optimism. Technological advances in building materials and environmental engineering have been extraordinary and we can look forward to developments in both architecture and urban planning which will encourage a more sustainable life style, lower CO2 emissions, reduced wastage and an improved quality of life.

For those of you graduating in architecture this will be the primary challenge you have to face, and the spotlight on the profession will only increase in intensity. You will have more support than we had in the early days, but you will need all the skills, the passion and the integrity you can master to face the challenge.

But we will only be able to succeed if we re-build those bridges between practice, research and education. They require different specific skills and attributes. Practice, as you will find, is fast and furious relying on an often messy, intuitive decision-making process based on past experience. Research is more reflective and more logical affording time to think of the unthinkable and derive benefits from inter-disciplinary debate. And teaching, particularly in architecture can often be the breeding ground for ideas helping to nurture both research and practice as well as benefiting from them. This is perhaps an old-fashioned idea of a school of architecture but one which I hope you will hang on to here despite the tendencies towards specialisation and fragmentation."

Text taken from a talk on architecture and climate change by Peter Clegg

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Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Three Made Places, 2005
Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Standing Room, 2005 (detail)
Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Three Made Places, 2005, (process)
Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Shelter, 2005
Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Shelter, 2005 (detail)
Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Three Made Places, 2005 (process)
Peter Clegg, Ice Towers, 2005, (detail)
Peter Clegg, Ice Towers, 2005, (detail)
Close up of carved ice structure

Antony Gormley and Peter Clegg, Standing Room, 2005, (detail)