|Design for Peace|
From a Pacific Perspective: Design is a Pathway to Peace.
He iti ra,he iti mapihi pounamu.
It may be small,but it is the finest greenstone.
On 10 July 1985 explosions rocked Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour as French government saboteurs sank the Rainbow Warrior, killing Fernando Pereira. We were not a nation at war.We were a nation which had taken a stand for peace and justice.3
In 1973 Prime Minister Norman Kirk had sent the Naval frigates Otago and Canterbury to Moruroa to peacefully protest at French nuclear testing in the Pacific, far away from France.4
In 1975 New Zealand, along with Fiji and Papua- New Guinea had sponsored a resolution at the General Assembly of United Nations advocating a Nuclear-Free Zone in the South Pacific.It was passed by 110 votes to 0 with 20 abstentions.5
In 1976 David Lange was a crew member on one of the Peace Squadron boats protesting as the US attempted to sail the nuclear cruiser ”Long Beach”into the Waitemata. By July 1984 he was elected Prime Minister with a clear mandate to keep New Zealand nuclear free.
”New Zealand must be punished” said US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger.6
Certainly there was apprehension in New Zealand at that time.Through threats of trade embargoes the US attempted to cripple our economy, but the people ‘s resolve was strengthened rather than reduced by the attacks on New Zealand by both France and the US. A fleet of small ships sailed across the Pacific to Moruroa to continue the protest against the exploding ofnuclear bombs.7
In 1987 France exploded eight nuclear bombs in the Pacific, and the dark threatening cloud of the Cold War hung over the world as architects gathered from around the globe for the UIA, International Union of Architects, Brighton Congress.9
At that time the UIA was not strong,but there is always great strength in the uniting bond of a common love of architecture.
Caption: The logo by New Zealand architects for AANA.This organisation later became ARC•PEACE Aotearoa. 2.
New Zealand architects push for environmental policies
The NZIA also committed itself to a programme of advocacy at a local level and active participation in legislative processes. In 1990 the UIA Congress was in Montreal. Rod Hackney was at that time UIA President and he brought forward the proposal by ArcPeace Aotearoa that every Institute in the world should have an Environmental Policy. It was adopted and the New Zealand Policy was sent to some 90 countries as an appropriate template. Another revolution was under way. Meanwhile the NZIA Policy was being developed back in New Zealand through an ongoing series of Position Papers on issues ranging from energy use to healthy buildings. These would lead to publications in other countries, such as the Japan Institute of Architects (JIA) Sustainable Design Guide, edited by Akio Hayashi, another member of the ARC•PEACE Executive Committee.12
Vernacular architecture a peace issue
The primary form of racism within the globalised academic industry is the presumption that everyone has a right to know, particularly those making money from research.16 Universities however are not known for respecting knowledge and so for First Nations there is an insoluble problem. Sacred architecture conceals as much as it reveals.
Sustainable architecture will always bevernacular architecture.
At a technical level achieving perfect harmony between building and context is the primary way of conserving energy, but of even greater importance are questions of cultural sustainability. From as early as 1975 New Zealand had led the world with discussion on sustainable design.17
Fifteen years later the 1991 Resource Management Act became law.This Act promoted ”the sustainable management ofnatural and physical resources”.
It would soon become de rigueur, but almost as quickly the language would sadly be captured and rendered meaningless. Environmentalists first used the term to talk of sustaining the planet, and sustaining life, in all its diversity. It was useful, for example, to be able to talk of sustaining the built environment as a means of sustaining culture. The term however began to be used to justify sustaining the unsustainable. ”Sustainable growth” can be seen as an oxymoron. When the cells in our bodies continue to grow in an uncontrolled way we call this ”cancer”. 1992 brought UNCED, the Rio Earth Summit. It seemed as though the built environment would be left off the Agenda, but a small group of architects from Wellington, New Zealand were successful in having architecture recognised as a user of energy, a generator of waste, and a source of greenhouse gases. Thanks to Jim Morgan and Simon Reeves, among many others, the draft concepts developed by ArcPeace Aotearoa appear in Chapter 7 of Agenda 21.
This document proposed an Agenda for the twenty-first century and was one of the major outcomes of Rio, along with the Biodiversity Convention.
Key Agenda 21 concepts included ”the enabling approach” which would lead planners away from writing policy, and creating ever more restrictions, to helping people to house themselves. There was to be an emphasis on ”indigenous practices”, ”technologies appropriate to local conditions”, the use of”locally available natural resources”, ”small scale and informal operatives”, ”self-help housing”, the ”conservation of waste energy in building-materials production methods” and ”capacity building”through ”specialised training” and ”technical training”.
These concepts of a vernacular, democratic, empowering architecture seem to have been too threatening to a disempowering building industry, and every reference to the built environment was deleted from the documentation brought forward to WSSD Johannesberg. The bold vision, which seemed so full of hope at Rio, did not even gain a foothold in history. The WSSD Conference, which was intended to bring renewed commitment to Agenda 21 marked instead the death of Chapter 7 of that Agenda. The text however only seemed to die. The built environment is not so easily dismissed. It ”is responsible for almost 50% of global energy consumption, around 40% of global waste production, and a correspondingly major share of greenhouse gas emissions”.19
No other environmental action will be of significance ifthe design ofcities and the design of buildings are neglected.
Influencing the United Nations
The cycle of United Nations Conferences which began in Rio concluded with Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996. Significant changes took place over this time. In Rio there was talk of partnership, but nothing more, as the NGO Forum was far distant from the meeting of Governments. At WSSD, the World Summit on Social Development, in Copenhagen in March 1995, the delegates linked hands to form a human chain joining the two venues.
Megan and Mark went on to the Third Preparatory Committee in New York to defend keeping the concept of
peace in the documentation.
Twenty five members of ArcPeace Aotearoa went to Istanbul, representing a very wide mandate from local
government right through to the University of Auckland. It
was possible to work as a team with representatives in every
Caption:Mark Tollemache and Megan Howell in front of the Arakainga House.
New Zealand peace initiatives
On his return from Istanbul Bob Harvey, Mayor of Waitakere Eco City, was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize for the Asia Pacific Region, after being nominated by ArcPeace Aotearoa. Bob’s book ”Rolling Thunder” recently won the environmental section of the Montana Book Awards, and it acknowledges the Cities for Peace Prize.22
At the Plenary session ofthe ”Cities Summit”, as Habitat II came to be known, the New Zealand Ambassador announced the Peaceful Cities initiative. The 1996 UIA Congress in Barcelona was only weeks after Habitat II and it developed the same themes. A student riot resulted in a change of venue, but another equally dramatic change occurred when a questioner challenged Richard Rogers. A hushed crowd of perhaps 5,000 expected the man in the stripped red socks to be dismissed. Instead Richard said he agreed with every word the ”stranger”had said about the need for architects to take responsibility for ecology. The questioner was Arthur Erickson, who now leads a very simple life in a house which does not even have electricity.
Caption: Gallipoli Peace Park. Chunuk Bair is the name ofthe highest hill.
An International Competition for the 33,000 hectare Gallipoli Peace Park was announced in 1997 and judging was in May 1998. The UIA made a considerable commitment to exploring the meaning of peace, and the documentation prepared by Raci Bademli was astonishing. Glenn Murcutt represented Australia on the judging panel, and Tony Watkins represented New Zealand. The Peace Park was formally opened by John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, and Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Glenn Murcutt won the Pritzker Prize,which is regarded as the Nobel Prize of architecture, in 2002. It was the first time the prize had been won by a solo practitioner, let alone one who had no secretary and no computer. The Award has drawn attention to other architects from ”down under” with a passionate sense of responsibility to both place and people. Ric Leplastrier and Paul Pholeros, for example. When World Architecture talked of ”modesty” and featured a tiny house with no bathroom and no kitchen it was clear that a new breeze was blowing. Sustainability is a spiritual question, not a technical question.The New Zealand bach can only be understood as a spiritual building.23
Oceania was populated by mavericks, adventurers, navigators and voyagers. Everyone built their own houses. They were confident enough to want to be free, and willing to take the risks.24
It is not by chance that New Zealand has developed into a country,which plays an important role as an international peacekeeper.25
Peace is threatening
Power, privilege, and the fear of losing them, frequently seem to lead to anger and aggression. Frail egos seem to lead to intolerance. Self-centredness can lead to rules, which assert values rather than commitments. 26
Insecurity leads to criticism rather than laughter. Envy leads to a fear of creativity and new ideas. These are the human dimensions of peace. Peace is much more threatening than war because it is so difficult to understand. Why should people love one another? Selfish privatisation seems to make so much more sense than giving and sharing. It seems logical to suggest that competition brings out the best in people, while whanau 2 7 leads to inefficiency. It is interesting to consider why the third greatest nuclear power in the world should have been so afraid of the Rainbow Warrior?
1 Practicing architect and lecturer at the Planning Department, School ofArchitecture, University ofAuckland, New Zealand. One of the founding members of IADPPNW / ARC•PEACE.
2 The title is a whakatauki,which is rather like an English proverb. Whakatauki enshrine traditional wisdom. A wise person knows that a small country can be much more effective in bringing political change than a large country.
3 Robie: Eyes of Fire, the last voyage ofthe Rainbow Warrior,1986, Lindon Publishing. Many New Zealanders had died defending France in 1914-18 and again in 1939-45.
4 Edwards,Helen: Portrait ofa Prime Minister, 2001, Exisle Publishing.
6 ibid p55. It is interesting that New Zealand gave the saboteurs an open trial. They were convicted ofmurder, but released into custody on Hao. From there France spirited them home to a hero’s welcome. The US is holding in Cuba without trial men against whom no terrorist charges have been upheld.
7 Pond Eyley: Protest at Moruroa, first hand accounts from the New Zealand based flotilla, 1997, Tandem Press, p 18
9 Pond Eyley: Protest at Moruroa, first hand accounts from the New Zealand based flotilla, 1997, Tandem Press, p
10 IADPPNW, What architects can do for peace and development, Proceedings from the Prague International Assembly of architects, planners and designers, 1989.
11 NZIA Environmental Policy Position Papers, New Zealand Institute of Architects 1992.
12 Sustainable Design Guide, 1995, JIA News.
Maori are seen as the ”First Nation”of New Zealand, although other peoples may have preceded them.
15 The concept ofsacred knowledge is not peculiar to Maori Almost all ”First Nations” have sacred knowledge.
16 This is a difficult and complex question. Universities once sought knowledge for its own sake, and they were repositories of knowledge. Almost all universities now seek financial support from industry, and their research is market driven.The global debate about the ownership ofindigenous knowledge remains unresolved. New Urbanism is an example of the ”capturing” of indigenous vernacular architecture knowledge for the purpose of financial gain.
17 Watkins:The Human House, Auckland Star,1975-1979.
18 It is significant that UNCED was concerned with ”Environment and Development”. This language was subtly changed over the next ten years to become ”Sustainable Development”.T his shift is probably more significant than any ofthe thousands of pages of WSSD documentation, but it has largely gone unrecognised. UNCED was concerned with a strategic debate. WSSD became concerned with an insoluble problem.
19 From the resolution adopted by the General Assembly ofthe UIA in Berlin in July 2002.
20 Jaime Lerner became Mayor of Curitiba, a poor city in Brazil, at the age of 33, and he transformed the city into one of the great planning successes of our time. Through design and political skill, rather than money, he set an example for all to follow.
21 Papatuanuku is the Maori Earth Mother.
22 Harvey:Rolling Thunder, the Spirit of Karekare, Exisle 2001.
23 Male: Good old Kiwi baches, and a few cribs too, 2001, Penguin. The bach is the definitive sustainable building. It represents a returning to roots and the idealism of a simple life in close contact with nature.
24 Anyone concerned about peace must expect a little opposition.It was perhaps inevitable that in December 1996 Tony Watkins was beaten up by four thugs and badly injured.
25 Helen Clark, the Prime Minister who led the New Zealand delegation to WSSD Johannesburg grew up marching in protest at the Vietnam war along with other peace activists
26 A distinction needs to be made between rules, which clarify and rules which oppress. A sustainable peace can never be founded on the suppression of diversity and complexity. The use of rules simply to control other people can never be condoned in a truly peaceful society.
27 Whanau is the extended family. The concept means,for example,that an individual cannot be considered healthy unless the whanau is also healthy. No human being exists in isolation from other human beings.
Published in Architecture as Politics, Stockholm 2002