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Comfort is one of the greatest enemies of the planet. Comfort more than anything will destroy everything, it will destroy civilisation. Because comfort means people stop being alive

“Every architect should be doing something which is immensely rewarding for them, for the community, for the globe and in the long run dealing with the very big issues and saving our planet… the future of the world is totally dependent on architects.”

Tony Watkins

In this Cultural Icons programme Tony Watkins is interviewed by John Walsh (author and Communications Manager for the NZ Institute of Architects) on his multifaceted career which includes architect, author, educator, activist among others. He also chats candidly about some of the globe-trotting adventures that have helped shape his life, art and philosophy.

In his role as educator and through various organisations Tony has helped form local and global policy on sustainable development and architecture. He is one of the founders of International Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility, initiator of Agenda 21, and the Peaceful Cities concept at the UN Habitat II Conference in Istanbul in 1996. As co-director of the International Union of Architects Sustainability Work Programme, representing more than 27 million architects globally, he advocated vernacular architecture which sustains the life of the planet and does no harm to stories, traditions, culture and place.

Tony credits a trip he made from London to Japan by bicycle and on foot as the experience which opened his eyes to the concept of vernacular architecture, a subject he taught for many years at the University of Auckland. In this episode, Tony describes some of the highlights of that trip, explains his discovery of vernacular architecture as he rushed to cross the difficult Afghani passes before winter, and discusses the importance of the kiwi bach for the New Zealand vernacular.

Tony has also authored numerous books and articles including: “The Human House,” “Piglet the Great of Karaka Bay,” and “Vernacular – An architecture for the RMA and Agenda 21.”

For his personal website please visit: www.tony-watkins.com

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