Barcelona Manifesto
Sustainable Building Conference
Barcelona, España
The World Sustainable Building Conference 2014 studies and analyzes the consequences of the crisis in the building sector, reflected in this article with the images from the book Modern Ruins, by Julia Schulz-Dornburg.

With hundreds of researchers, professionals, representatives of the business world, institutions, society, technical professionals, city representatives and international organizations meeting in Barcelona for the World Sustainable Building Conference 2014, after three days of intense and inspiring exchange of ideas and knowledge, we are coming to declare:

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Modern Ruins. Julia Schulz-Dornburg

In the professional world there is a capacity to do so. A lot of work has been done in our sector, and very good indeed, we must admit. The 144 sessions of this Conference, the hundreds of papers from all around the world, the dozens of exciting proposals we have received from the architects of the future participating in the Universities Competition (‘Powering Transformation’), all show that we have the ability to do much more in the future.
_x005F_x000D_ We have capabilities, resources, and will. We have listened to our local and national politicians assert it. It is time to use all these skills, integrating knowledge, the ability to work together, and learning fast. And it’s not easy, it requires making important leaps.
_x005F_x000D_ First of all, to count more on people. We have heard how political regulations and market proposals amount to only 50% of the solution. This is why we are not moving faster. The other 50% is made up by adding information and communication – effective, credible, and practical – to citizens. The renovation programs of the developed world, about which much has been said (and which have so many resources) will only be viable if people get involved in them. Housing projects in emerging countries will only be viable if people take ownership. We have seen how thousands of new homes in emerging countries are abandoned by their dwellers, who return to their slums. Dialogue with citizens on the local level is crucial. Communities worthy of the name are essential. Only on them can we build a market and a building policy that live up to the challenges ahead. They are the ones which will bring, to a large extent, the sensitivity and local character needed for building, both related to the practical needs and priorities, and in relation to cultural identity and connection to the anthropological foundations on which new developments should be built. We need this dialogue on the local level.
_x005F_x000D_ We need, where possible and practical, concerted national strategies, for a long enough period to ensure their vision and continuity.
_x005F_x000D_ And meanwhile we need a dialogue on a global scale. The one we are having at this conference needs to be transferred to other global forums tackling the big issues that affect us (the new agenda for the further development of the Millennium Development Goals, the new urban agenda, the post-Kyoto global energy roadmap, the biodiversity preservation agenda, the agenda to control demographic explosion).
_x005F_x000D_ This global dialogue requires active involvement of this Conference’s actors, working together. One of the main messages emerging from this Conference is that we need and want to work together.
_x005F_x000D_ We will need to develop our annual Global Vision Report much further; we will need to update it constantly. We have to turn it into a mechanism that helps us work together.
_x005F_x000D_ To be honest, we will not know if this Conference has been a success until one year or two or three have passed, which is when we will be able to ascertain if the momentum of three days in Barcelona (preceded by many months’ work) results in mechanisms to do so, to work together in the global dialogue, so that we can provide the global sector roadmap which we are proposing and promoting.
_x005F_x000D_ We are summoning these local dialogues, the global dialogue. We are inviting you all to join this Barcelona Manifesto and work according to its spirit.

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Modern Ruins. Julia Schulz-Dornburg

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