“In all, let Nature never be forgot”

We are living in a time where there is urgent talk about the harm human kind is doing to our home—Planet Earth! Global Warming is being discussed globally on many levels. Government leaders, scientists, engineers, and architects are weighing in on the topic being more cognizant of our impact on the health of our home—Earth! Alexander Pope, the famed 18th century English poet, once exclaimed in an epistle to Burlington (1731):

“To build, to plant, whatever you intend,

To rear the column, or the arch to bend,

To swell the Terras, or to sink the grot;

In all, let Nature never be forgot.”

What are your thoughts on the role of architects, artists, engineers, the creative class, in our time, with regards to their responsibility, their burden toward Nature and Planet Earth? Are we paying enough attention to our impact on the global environment with our rampant desire to build and push forward with our technology? In short, are we the solution or the problem?

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Architect
Grimshaw Architects, Woodside Building for Technology and Design, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Grimshaw Architects, Woodside Building for Technology and Design, Monash University, Tiered Open Theatre Learning/Teaching Space

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.


19 thoughts on ““In all, let Nature never be forgot””

  1. The technology, design, and overall ideas that humans can come up with are pretty fascinating. Although it might be helping us advance, it does cause harm to nature. As sad as it is to say, we are the problem. Many of us, make our best efforts to help preserve our environment, but unless we decide as a whole to stop doing certain things, there will always be some underlying issue caused by one of our own. For example, I stopped using straws so that I could help save the turtles. In reality, my straw won’t be causing a turtle death, but someone elses straw can or plastic bag, plastic wrap, plastic water bottle, etc. Even if laws were placed, like the mask mandate, there’s still gonna be a high percentage of people who just don’t care. I like to believe when natural disasters occur, it’s nature’s way of taking a breather and fighting back for all the damage we cause.


  2. When it comes to the responsibilities of architects, engineers, and designers of different buildings, it’s quite clear that they do contribute to the destruction of nature in some way. Whether it’s from carbon emissions, light pollution or just the excavation of forests of trees, they do play a small part. However, reading about the Grimshaw architects and how they are managing to make their building net zero carbon by 2025 is quite incredible. They are definitely taking a step in the right direction when it comes to alleviating our planet from the constant pollution and carbon emissions. I do agree that as technology keeps improving, we’ll keep finding more and more innovative ways to solve this issue. But as for now, there isn’t really a global initiative to try to lower carbon emissions when it comes to designing buildings. Hopefully, the Grimshaw architects can spark a change in a world wide scale and make it mandatory to consider carbon emissions when designing a building.


  3. This is an interesting yet tough question to answer. I may be spit balling here as I am not an expert in these things, but I really do feel that each role have every responsibility in what they build and place on Earth in terms of how it’ll impact/harm the environment. My question is I don’t know how sustainable some things can function without things such as fossil fuels or other harmful gasses to run say like a car or even huge factories. I don’t know if there are better substitutes out there to help keep them functioning for our every day lives and I would like to hope there is and even stronger substitutes. For instance, solar energy seems much more eco friendly and reliable to conserve more energy than paying more for energy bills which require harmful gases to burn. I feel we aren’t paying enough attention to the impact of the global environment with conservative people who don’t believe in it and come to terms about the issues we are causing our planet. It has created such an impact that it is said so much will die off and human kind won’t be able to sustain much in 2030-2040 and they are leaving younger generations to fight for this and be left with the mess than make it a better sustainable life for more generations to come. More animals are becoming extinct and with those animals dying meaning other natural resources us humans rely on which will also die off. Though there are cases where there are some people trying to create renewable and ecofriendly resources to try and help our Earth even though it does very little when not everyone is on board. Human kind really is the problem with our dying Earth, but we are also the only solution who can change it. Unfortunately only those with great power or even money can help make change for other people to follow than small organizations or people who don’t have much to offer to help out. They are all great examples but unfortunately it isn’t enough and it should definitely be encouraged throughout the whole world to follow these issues to help preserve our lives and plant.


  4. Architects, artists, engineers, and the creative class are all necessary to help advance mankind, but for the longest time I can’t help but say that all these buildings have wiped away a plot of nature. The priority of building houses or buildings holding essentials (such as grocery stores) was in such high demand as the population would only keep increasing until finally leveling out in the early 2000’s. Now, there is a new move of these creative classes to be more eco-friendly since what has been built cannot be undone. I still see houses being built near where I live (a desert) at a concerning rate since our main water supply will be drained more rapidly. I do not blame the architects, artists, or engineers; what is to be blamed is the high demand for more than what is needed. These are artists that want to work their craft just like any other artist. Maybe their skillsets could be used to revamp old buildings or run down apartment complexes; to improve what is already there.


  5. My answer may seem a bit too simple-minded, but to be honest we are both. To be blunt, humans are the source of climate issues and damage to the earth . I do believe however that it began unintentionally. As we started developing new technologies like cars and factories and such, we became to exited at the prospect of what was to come that we rushed to the finish line without thinking about any potential harm we could cause to the path we leave behind. Now, in current day, we have become more knowledgeable about the way the world works, and what we have done to harm it. Due to this, the only ones who can work towards healing the planet are humans, since we know what we did to destroy it in the first place. We are the solution because we are the problem. I believe that many people are aware of the harm we cause the planet, as well as what we can do to fix it, but so long as people in higher positions of power do nothing to acknowledge our thoughts, then nothing will be done. I also feel that we are in a rough spot right now as we are too far deep into the rabbit hole. We created a basis to mass produce products by making factories and farms that create too much waste and damage the planet, but we did this when we didn’t know what harm it caused. Now that we know, it is easy to say that we must simply stop doing these things, but it is not so simple. Given that it is the only way we currently know how to keep up with the population then to simply stop would create a large amount of problems for the general population. We need to find a way to find safer and more viable options to keep up with the populace but it needs to be a smooth transition. Engineers and architects and the creative minds that work with them can help by finding ways to reduce damage caused from our daily living lives. As we go forward we are finding ways to power light with solar panels and wind turbines, and we have found a way to heat up water with the sun instead of needed energy to heat it up. Cars are becoming electrical and solar panels are being used at an even larger scale to power cities. Hydro-powered energy sources are a thing as well, though I do not know too much about them. The issue with these is not how they work, but how we are applying them. We are continuing to build outwards and destroy some part of the environment to add these things, but we are forgetting to fix what already exists. Older neighborhoods and poor areas do not have access to these things because they are forgotten and cannot pay to receive them. Larger and older buildings cannot simply be torn down and built again better without some harm to the humans who have jobs there and such. This is where another issue lies. It is feasible to tear down old apartment complexes and build new ones for the people who used to live there but it is not cost effective, and that is all the larger corporation and people in higher power care about. The people who have the power to make change need to stop caring about money and help create change, which I don’t see happening any time soon.


  6. Minimalism is a key solution to many of the problems we have resulting from the constant consumerism from which our society has made into a norm. Capitalism and the open market thrives in what can only exist from the necessity of need, want, production, collection, and consumption of things. Artists, engineers, and architects may find themselves in a peculiar position due to the very nature of their profession. At the core they may find themselves obliged to create something out of scratch. The artist may use up materials to create their art. The engineer may expend resources to fortify some sort of structure. The architect may run a series of iterations to finally master their idea and bring it into fruition. Whatever it is, they are condemned to create waste. No matter how energy efficient the engineer’s components are, or how innovative the architect’s design is, or even how minimalist the artist’s form takes, it will eventually take up space and may or may not be fated to waste.

    As humans we are creative, curious, and lack the ability to be idle, so we naturally leave an everlasting impact on this planet. We are a problem due to the reason that no matter how eco-friendly we try to design; we are always creating waste. It is pleasant to think that, what engineers, architects, and artists do as to try and find new solutions to our waste problem, but the very nature of our training insists on us to find solutions and therefore create more waste with the novel replacing the stale. Will we ever be able to find a completely wasteless solution? Probably not, but we can always strive to be less wasteful. We may want to take a look at our ancestors and use their example; to not waste what we have and use all of it to the fullest capacity, in other words, until the wheels fall off.


  7. This has, and will continue to be an evolving topic. We’re both the problem and the solution. In recent years, there has been recognition of being responsible designers. From architects, artists, engineers, and the creative class, there has been a movement to understand the effects of design decisions. As, we continue to strive for better and optimal solutions, either through material selections, time frame of construction and how construction is conducted are all on the table when it comes to logistics. Again, it can go back to the idea of “cradle to cradle”. The idea that a product will be truly recyclable at the end of its life cycle. This could be applied to buildings, structures or installations. There is a great focus on the creation of innovative solutions, as stated by pushing technology forward. Consumption is a part of this disciplines, and that will be a point of understanding the large picture of our roles. In the field of Architecture, there has been an adoption of passive design, or implementation and has been the leading factor in a buildings form or design. To build on the contextual data and information of the site, is foremost an important part of schematic design. If we can alleviate one issue, then cohesively a building can perform to be sustainable, or at the very least address some of the pressing issues. It can be quite difficult for example an architect or engineer to implement different types of systems or construction methods when finance is involved. Financing is a big contributor that can stall innovation or exploration.


  8. I don’t think we are paying enough attention to our impact on the global environment. While there are some measures being taken to be more environmental, I don’t think that enough is being done. I think that this is applicable to all fields mentioned because not enough artists, engineers, architects, and other creatives are making the steps to produce things economically. At the same time companies producing the materials used by these individuals are not promoting that mindset either.

    Take, for example, an artist who is constantly using tubes of paint in plastic bottles. Something like this could be solved with reusable paint bottles and art stores that offer refill stations instead of selling the paints individually by the bottle. This is a type of technology that could easily be implemented today but is still not the norm.

    Another example could be engineers. As we are further advancing in tech, that also leads to an influx of material needs and the building of offices, warehouses, and factories to manufacture products. All of these things play a part in harming the planet with gasses, plastic/paper waste, and other pollutants. Architects come into play when building these infrastructures, and a lot of times natural landscapes like forests and trees are torn down for these buildings.

    The advancement of technology is not stopping anytime soon, and probably will not be stopping judging from how much it has advanced over the last decade alone. If we continue to expand at this rate without making more environmental precautions, I would infer that the next 50 years would result in high amounts of deforestation, pollution, and an influx of waste and lack of resources because we are using them up at such a high pace without thinking of the consequences.

    I think that we are the problem, but we can also be the solution if more people start concerning themselves about the future of the planet in the foreseeable future. We are already seeing the detections of climate change happening, and while there are a great amount of environmentalists trying to get more companies and people to care, we need far more action and far more, stricter laws to really impose the idea of preserving our resources and avoiding any further damage to the planet.


  9. Technology and design in architecture are definitely a great innovation that has contributed to many successes and advancements in the world. However, I do believe there are instances in which we forget to consider how exactly these modern buildings are taking away from nature in terms of the destruction and harm it does to the environment, as well as possibly misplacing the homes of various species. Although this is a concerning issue, I do believe we can actually be the answer to towards ensuring we are developing and building new architecture in environmentally safe manners, while also contributing to building locations for organizations that work to protect the environment such as animal sanctuaries and those fighting against climate change.


  10. I believe that creatives are the problem AND the solution to the burden on the global environment. Artists of all kinds, including myself, will fill pages upon pages of work and not consider the effect that what they’re creating may also be damaging to our environment. Spraypaint, plastic, and general waste from projects is very common in the art world. This really got put into perspective for me when I saw the artist Yasuaki Onishi talk about his art during the artist lecture series. He talked about how when he visited India, he would dig through the street shops trash and remains on the ground to gather string for his work. He looked for ways to create art without creating more waste, as his installations usually get tossed after being in their show. By recycling what he could and using different methods of gathering and disposing of supplies. It really put into perspective how much we waste in art. I do think that we can also help the problem, if not being the solution. Finding ways in our personal practices, such as reusing canvas that we’ve messed up instead of tossing it, recycling materials that we have no use for, and trying to limit our demands for supplies (after all, supply and demand does also cause ecological harm), we can start doing at least our part of limiting the damage we do to the planet around us.


  11. I believe architects, artists, engineers, and the creative class, all play a small role in hurting and helping the environment. Depending on the artist or architects they pay attention to the way nature would work with and tie into their artworks. Others destroy nature to build their creative fantasies sometimes this can make an arguably beautiful piece other times one can wonder whether it was worth destroying certain landscapes to make these artworks. I have seen buildings and sculptures that use the nature around them to make their pieces stronger and preserve the nature around them. But this is not always the case. When architects are designing buildings, and housing sometimes the idea of the nature around the area is forgotten, and nature is not preserved.
    I remember as a kid there was a park that I used to go to but I did not go to it for the park itself. Instead, I snuck off to nature behind the park down the hill. There used to be beautiful tall grass about three to four feet tall and behind that, a long deep dried up stream that was at least a ten-foot drop. But there were areas where we could climb down to the bottom by the little water left. Trees, flowers, and tall grass surrounded the dried up stream and it was a beautiful place I could sneak off to. That was until one day I went down the hill to venture through the grass and over half the area had been demolished to dirt and rumble to build more houses. The stream was filled with rocks and dirt as if it never existed. It got replaced by a trailer park of all things. This would be an example of when the beauty of nature was ignored whether than worked with.
    Their burden toward Nature and Planet Earth is arguably damaging to nature. Sometimes the creativity to build within nature without destroying the original landscaping works well to preserve the area. But I feel as though most are not paying enough attention to our impact on the global environment. Some artists do a great job incorporating nature into art but unfortunately I do not think most include nature in their plans. With our rampant desire to build and push forward with our technology, we are often hurting the environment more than preserving it. In short, we can be the solution or the problem it is up to us on which one we will be.


  12. I believe that we are both the problem and the solution; we both have the potential to contribute to the continual disregard of nature and Planet Earth, but also the potential to raise awareness and promote ecologically friendly practices. There has been a rising awareness in the environmental situation, especially in recent years, but there has also been some pushback against it whether it is through bad faith, ignorance, or apathy. Overall, I don’t think we are doing enough at the moment, but I am hopeful that it’ll change especially since awareness and action in younger generations is rising. The creative class, in particular, has the power and influence to promote environmentally friendly practices to the general public and set the bar in how we treat the planet, and it is important that we always continue to push for this both outside and inside our communities. This can be accomplished through keeping up with current news and studies on the environment and constantly finding ways to promote environmentally friendly practices, whether it is through how we approach a design or what we use to create it. And for those that are currently doing this, it is imperative to acknowledge that not only is the situation always changing, but that we should always strive to do better.


  13. I definitely feel like this is a good question, and while I do understand where that train of thought might come from, architects and designers are also going to be the people that can help build better eco friendly buildings. I can agree that architects have been a problem in the past by creating this massive buildings with no rhyme or reason to a possible impact on the Earth, but today I feel that architects are becoming more eco friendly and finding ways to incorporate more sunlight, open space, things that can eventually help save power on the building. For example lets look at the Grimshaw Architects and their Woodside Building for Technology and Design in Monash University. This space is beautiful! I love how open it is and how so much sunlight is shining through the room. It is also a tiered Open Theatre Learning/Teaching Space, allowing more people to be in a single space, compared to having to make extra rooms which thus be using more material. So I do agree that architects are a problem in the past, but I think now with everyone trying to be more eco friendly it will be a much better world that the architects will create.


  14. While I agree that the efforts of the creative class in building new structures contribute to the effects of global warming, I think that the amount of pollution generated from constructing buildings pales in comparison to the amount of pollution generated by the daily operations of Corporate America. To think that the majority of responsibility to lessen the impact of global warming rests on the creative class in the designing and implementation of the design of a building is unrealistic, the real bulk of waste and pollution to the environment comes with the building actually being in-use. I think about the amount of paper waste and the amount of electricity it takes to run a business, and then I think about the guilt there is in popular culture that weighs on ordinary people to be the ones to save the earth by recycling or making more-conscious buying decisions when it comes to consuming goods and products. Is the responsibility really in the hands of those who have so little power in the matter to actually catalyst change? I do think that a consideration of action in relation to spending money is a positive thing, and I also believe that a way to lessen the power of corporations would be to just not spend your money on them. It seems unfair and unreasonable to place the blame on creative people to fix things when the real function of the buildings that are created by architects is often to be a facilitator of perpetual resource consumption and a continual pollution generator.


  15. Architects, artists, engineers, and all creatives have a huge responsibility in how humans interact with nature. Engineers and architects primarily decide on the land we build on and how we build it. Both can be eco-friendly and figure out renewable energy sources that will help lower our impact on the planet. I think technology will help us find ways that are more sustainable for humans to thrive without tearing apart the environment. While architects and engineers actually build and create our homes and buildings, artists and creatives are equally as important because they are the ones who motivate the people (who motivate politicians) to be more eco-friendly and conscious of our impact on the planet. With current technology such as the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to spread information about our planet and why our current system isn’t sustainable. Technology is the solution for humans to adapt to our environment and become more environmentally friendly.


  16. The human race is the solution to the problem it has created.

    If we assimilate that evolution is the good side of entropy, we assimilate that humanity will evolve, always, and this has led to a crazy and excessive use of natural resources, we were children handling great tools that we did not know and we have pushed the planet to the limit. In fact, in certain aspects, it is already late, but not everything is negative, we have something going for us, we have realized what we were doing. The question is, will the ruling classes really get down to business? Well, this is another debate, so here I will talk about what we can do, about our responsibility. And I define two frames, the personal and the professional. On the personal, is recycling properly (whose city of Las Vegas has a disastrous policy), consuming responsibly and others … and the professional? okay, let’s talk about this.

    We are architects, engineers, designers … whatever title, I will include in the term of Creators. I repeat, creators. Creators, not destroyers. If humanity is inherent to evolve, to grow in number, to expand, the growth of urban centers is something natural (assuming that the population growth is natural), so what must be done is that this growth of urban centers is right. Therefore, it will be the urban planners who will have to say how, it will be the landscape architects who will have to integrate nature into it, it will be the architects who will have to develop efficient constructions, and the engineers who will develop possible technology. We all have a role, from the child who throws the bottle in the correct container to the engineers who study clean energy. The responsibility and obligation of all is total because simply, the ship is sinking, the earth is collapsing.

    Regarding the role of designers today, I am optimistic, I believe that there is consensus, study, and application in this regard. I am finishing my master in architecture now, I look back and I think that what I have studied the most these years has been related to sustainable construction, it has been I think the main topic. I see that the requirements to build have ecological standards of some relevance and that it is not about superficial requirements, and what is most important of all, there is conscience, there is an intention to do so.
    If the great architects (like Holl’s previous post) already design in that direction, the big construction companies have very strong policies of sustainable construction, and the new generations of designers also have this mentality, then I think we are on the right track. We must be aware that the grain of sand that each one can contribute is much greater than we believe.
    I think the two key tools will be, awareness and innovation. And we are the professionals for developing it.


  17. I think that the role of architects, artists, engineers, and the creative class have all played in the damage that is done to the environment. Engineers and architects have for many decades now prioritized convenience and ingenuity in their designs and creations rather than look at the environmental side-effects of their structures. I am in no way trying to demonize them though, as many engineers and architects have also based many of their designs trying to allow nature to flourish in its respective environment freely. As people become more educated and wiser, I think that eco-friendly alternatives are going to start flourishing in the coming years which is always welcomed. I think many people are doing as much as they can to help save the planet, but the majority of the Earth’s pollution problem is coming from only a handful of global companies that are the main sources of poison for the planet. Once we have those companies compensate for their polluting, I think that it would be much easier to reel in the problem that is pollution. In the end, I do think that humanity is the cause for the dying of the planet, but we are a problem-solving species. I think that humanity has what it takes to figure out how to save our planet, even though it does indeed look grim as of late.


  18. My thoughts on architects, artists, engineers, and the creative class of our time are somewhat of a problem to issues around the around, that is damaging our world. I believe that engineers are one of the main reasons for this cause of the problem that we have seen our world suffer, however, I also believe just because they are the ones producing the work doesn’t mean it’s their fault entirely. For instance, whoever is in charge of that land tells their engineers or even architects to build a building is their fault at that point. The boss of those engineers or architects don’t care much about the environment, but they care about the money. They are ones that don’t seem to see the downside of building a new building where it might cause a natural disaster, for example, building over an oil field. Although, this is not the case for all, in fact, I do feel like in recent more designers are trying to better the world and try to be careful about where new buildings. I feel that we are both the problem and solution to this issue because like I mentioned, some care and some don’t, it just depends on who the person might be. I strongly believe it is never too late to change how we treat our world because that will definitely benefit us later in the future.


  19. The role of architects, artists, engineers, the creative class, have played a massive role in nature and planet earth’s conditions especially in the way of what materials they use. Cutting down trees for lumber or paper products, clearing out land to make space for a new building or project, or even thinking about the types of pollution they contribute. That being said, I know there are some people out their trying to think about how to create things with the earth in mind and creations that could be helpful. I think progress is important, but we have to take into account what humans need and what would also be better for the environment. If we could achieve the balance of new creations and less harm to our environment then I think the world would be better off. We are one of the problems but we can find ways to become part of the solution. I know it’s not on only the creatives to try to help the planet but it wouldn’t hurt to think about ways we would help.


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