The 20th Century has enriched the history of architecture in its unique manner. It is an unparalleled chapter of progress and grandeur of civilisation. Technical and artistic innovations brought fine designs close to the populous like never before.
Yet it is also a century of calamity and confusion. The squander of world's natural and cultural heritage is threatening human survival. The affluent regions often see development turned into destruction by construction. In the poorer areas, pauperised masses are struggling to build their own cities of tomorrow.
In the coming century, globalisation and pluralism will bring to a head the conflicts and the contradictions that characterise our age. Diverse cultures and traditions are brought into close contact. Global integration of production, finance and technology continues to dominate decision making. Yet the gap between the rich and the poor are becoming farther apart. Regional strife and financial uncertainties cast a sinister shadow upon the human habitat.
The pace of change accelerates, though its direction is even harder to tell. Whilst architects should not take on tasks outside the professional remit, it would be foolish and irresponsible to ignore the torrents of social and cultural transformation that are redefining the scope of the architectural profession. A conscious reflection of the role of 21st Century Architecture calls for enthusiasm, strength and courage.
The challenges that we face come from all directions, such as:
· What do we learn from the Nature's revenge so far?
· Can our cities, and our ideas about cities, survive the overwhelming urbanisation?
· How do we benefit from technology, whilst keeping its harmful effects at bay?
· How do we bring back the soul of cities and towns which was cherished by inhabitants and visitors in the past centuries?
Over the centuries the role of an architect is constantly modified to suit its time. Effective designs emerge from a thorough understanding of the forces which shape our built environment today. Architecture must extend its boundaries and concepts, bringing together the knowledge and expertise in all its specialised areas.
In our view, the coming Century calls for:
· A methodology that guides the architect through all aspects of the built environment, not only in the techno-aesthetic sphere
· A fusion of architecture, landscape architecture and city planning
· An architectural process which views construction, operation, maintenance, renewal and conservation as a whole
· Multiple technologies that are rooted in indigenous cultures and societies, and are extended to realm of human feelings
· Regional initiatives that enhance visual and psychological identities
· Incorporation of fine art, craftsmanship and industrial design in architect's work
· A moral conduct that treats society as the ultimate client
· An open and continuous education programme for professionals and clients, and the wider public
Our past may be different, yet we are here to share a common future on this planet. Our paths may be different, yet we strive to build a common destiny. Beijing belongs to a long and magnificent history of the Orient, where integral thinking is at the heart of its classical philosophies. Here we declare our resolution with pride and confidence. Here we turn to a new chapter of the continuity of the history of the Human Habitat.