A Global Moratorium 
on New Construction

Team: Charlotte Malterre-Barthes together with bplus.xyz
(Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert, Angelika Hinterbrandner and Roberta Jurcic)

Role: curation, programming
Year: 2021–

“A Global Moratorium on New Construction” is an initiative that argues for the necessity of a drastic change to construction protocols: the suspension of new building activity. Articulated around a series of roundtables and events, which took place in 2021, the intent is to place architects and planners, but also industry actors, policymakers and citizens face to face with the role of construction in generating ongoing and untenable ecological and social injustice and to seek ways to take action.

It has become unmanageable to ignore the complicit role that design disciplines play in environmental degradation, social injustice, and climate crisis. Not only is new construction destructive, but it is also unnecessary.

In 2050, the world population will plateau. Already, in countries where the generational renewal is no longer happening, scores of buildings stand empty, decaying. Yet and still, designers design, architects plan, planners envision — bathing in a contented delusion of design neutrality and powerlessness. This detachment is no longer tenable.

What Donna Haraway calls “the appropriation of nature as a resource for the productions of culture” and the translation of the Earth’s resources into the built environment and its economic model of development, is mirrored in today’s global neo-colonial modes of extraction capitalism. The consequences are visible — the wall is in sight.

A drastic change to global construction protocols is necessary: the suspension of new construction, now.More info on the website stop.construction


Team: Charlotte Malterre-Barthes together with bplus.xyz
Olaf Grawert, Angelika Hinterbrandner and Tatjana Bergmeister

Role: moderation, programming
Place: Berlin, San Gimignano Lichtenberg
Year: 2021
Photos: Kevin McElvaney

Berlin questions 2021 - SEEKING POLICY: A Global Moratorium on New Construction

The pandemic has shown us how swiftly local and global economies could shift potentially. Complete industries thrived, have been disrupted or completely re-structured. The time of quarantine marked a moment of standstill: The urgency of the pandemic made fundamental and structural change inevitable. The pandemic thereby proved the idea of "Alternativlosigkeit" wrong. Human paradigm and cultural values are not a given, but inscribed in the social, economic and legal frameworks that structure our everyday lives. How can we find and implement new policies for a common and better future of global metropolises?

How can we mobilize the law—too often producing processes of injustice and economic subordination at the service of companies and neoliberal forces—to act spatially and counter speculative construction, gentrification, social and spatial segregation, resource depletion, and technological escalation? Is a moratorium the right legal tool to bring spatial matters and resources to public debate? More generally, how to harness policy as a space regulator, bearing in mind its powers and limitations?

At the heart of friction between politics of reuse, zoning regulations and changing perceptions the former GDR industrial site San Gimignano Lichtenberg is repurposed as a prototyping workshop for architecture. As it stands amidst sites of circular economy and experimental purposes, the building points at emerging forms of the productive city as ways to rethink our built environment. Indicative of a shift in values towards care, maintenance, and transformation of the existing building stock, San Gimignano Lichtenberg is the perfect site to hold a conversation in the framework of the initiative “A Global Moratorium on New Construction.”

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