Architects Declare has lost yet another major founding member following the decision of Zaha Hadid Architects to withdraw from the UK-based climate action group.

A day after Foster + Partners quit the group, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) followed suit, citing difference of opinion with the Architects Declare steering committee.

Representing a coalition of 1,044 architectural practices in the UK who have committed to a 10-point pledge to address the climate and biodiversity emergency, Architects Declare had recently accused some of the members of having undermined the movement through their actions, and called on them to ‘either join the wave of positive change or have the integrity to withdraw’.

Recent statements by ZHA principal Patrik Schumacher against the use of radical solutions for climate change exacerbated the situation. Speaking at a recent conference, Schumacher spoke about the need for economic growth to fight climate change since it would provide the resources to make further investments in research and technology.

Architects Declare responded by stating that Schumacher’s statements were fundamentally in conflict with the Architects Declare commitment to ‘advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative practices’. The climate action group also added that his statements were “scientifically flawed and decades out of date in terms of informed intellectual thought”.

Reiterating their commitment to developing solutions to fight the challenges of climate change, ZHA said the practice had a significant difference of opinion with the Architects Declare steering group on how positive change could be delivered.

“We embed sustainability into the design, procurement, construction and operations of the projects we are delivering, and we work hard to build integrated client/contractor/design team relationships that can maximise opportunities to improve systems which prioritise environmental issues and ensure cost-effective sustainability,” the statement read.

“This collaborative relationship between the client, operator, design team and contractor, together with the development of an overall understanding of the sustainability agenda across the entire project team, is critical to delivering the most sustainable construction and operations of a building throughout its lifetime.”

According to ZHA, recent projects such as the KAPSARC research centre in Riyadh and the Generali Tower in Milan had achieved exemplary accreditation with both buildings being awarded LEED Platinum. The Nürnberg Messe Convention Hall received its Platinum rating from the German Society for Sustainable Building (DGNB) and Leeza SOHO in Beijing obtained LEED Gold.

“ZHA is now delivering architecture around the world targeting the highest sustainability certification, including projects in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas planning carbon-neutral operations.”

While expressing regret for the withdrawal, ZHA said, “For us, how change is delivered requires discussion, co-operation and collaboration, and this must be debated without condemnation.”

However, by unilaterally deciding on its own precise and absolute interpretation of the coalition’s commitments, Architects Declare’s steering group was setting the profession up for failure, ZHA said.

"We saw Architects Declare as a broad church to raise consciousness on the issues, enabling architectural practices of all sizes to build a coalition for change and help each other find solutions. We need to be progressive, but we see no advantage in positioning the profession to fail. In fact, it would be a historic mistake,” ZHA added.

Photo: Zaha Hadid's Generali Tower in Milan (Image © Hufton + Crow)