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UK Architects Declare has published a guide to regenerative design

A Dry river with a bridge standing on top of it and tall buildings in the background.

Jochen Tack, imageBRO / Shutterstock

The recently published 43-page Regenerative Design Primer is designed to help architects and other designers lead the way towards regenerative design. The guide was published by UK Architects Declare, a movement founded in the United Kingdom five years ago.

In 2023, the Stockholm Resilience Centre sounded the alarm that humanity has exceeded six of the nine planetary boundaries essential to human survival. Decades of sustainability efforts have failed to bring about the necessary change, and humanity, seeking short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability, remains on a path to destruction. We need fundamental change, and we need it now.

This is what a group of British architects said back in 2019 when they founded the Architects Declare movement. Now, the movement has published a guidebook, Regenerative Design Primer. It sets out a path for architects and designers who want to work with the built environment and are committed to a sustainable future to practice regenerative design.

The 2023 update to the Planetary boundaries chart shows how the planet's resilience limits have already been exceeded in six areas. photo: Azote for Stockholm Resilience Centre, based on analysis in Richardson et al 2023

The guide outlines practical steps, fosters a common language, and instils confidence in embracing regenerative principles. Structured around the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Workstages, the Primer is founded on 3 key principles of regenerative design: being a good ancestor, Co-evolving with nature, Creating a just space for people.

Central to the regenerative paradigm is its departure from traditional sustainability approaches. Regenerative design aims not just to reduce harm but to generate positive impacts for all life forms. It transcends anthropocentrism, encompassing the wellbeing of entire ecosystems.

The role of the regenerative designer is pivotal in this transition. Designers nurture a vision of a flourishing future, catalyse the shift from degenerative to regenerative practices, and actively combat destructive patterns. Collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and communities is also essential to drive systemic change.

Regenerative Design Primer guidebook can be read online. photo: UK Architects Declare

Link to the Regenerative Design Primer

UK Architects Declare has been at the forefront of advocating for regenerative design since declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2019. In May 2020, Finland joined the global movement, which has since been extended to the entire construction sector.

The founding signatories of the Finnish Architects Declare were a group of active, environmentally aware architects' offices. Archinfo, together with the Association of Finnish Architects’ Offices, Finnish Association of Architects, and Finnish Association of Landscape Architects, gave support in the founding process. So far, 161 Finnish architecture and landscape architecture firms have signed the declaration. 

Link to the Finnish language declaration