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CAA joins forces to relaunch BEPIC.

On World environment Day, Commonwealth associations representing architects, engineers, planners and surveyors have relaunched the ‘Built Environment Professionals in the Commonwealth’ (BEPIC), a voluntary collaboration that aims to advance advocacy, capacity building and climate action in response to the global challenges posed by climate change and rapid urbanisation.

The collaboration also responds to the findings of the Survey of the Built Environment Professions in the Commonwealth, published in 2020, which identified:

  1. That there is a critical lack of capacity in a number of Commonwealth countries, many of which are urbanising rapidly and are among the most vulnerable.
  2. That there is a corresponding lack of educational and institutional capacity to grow the profession fast enough in a number of Commonwealth countries.
  3. That there is a perceived weakness in built environment policy in many Commonwealth countries in terms of standards, implementation, and enforcement.

The findings of the survey are particularly important in light of the fact that nearly 50% of the projected increase in the World’s urban population to 2050 is forecast to be in Commonwealth countries where 95% of the cities most at risk from climate impacts are to be found. This growth represents a doubling of the urban population across the Commonwealth, from 1bn to 2bn in the next 30 years.

BEPIC members include the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), the Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE) and the Commonwealth Engineers’ Council (CEC).

The collaboration also recognises the work that has been undertaken by the members of the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative and the Declaration on Sustainable urbanisation adopted by Leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which took place in Kigali, Rwanda in 2022. First launched in 1997, BEPIC aims to strengthen the impact of its members through joint advocacy, knowledge sharing and continuing professional development.

CAA President, Peter Oborn said:
“The CAA is pleased to have renewed its commitment to BEPIC and looks forward to collaborating with built environment colleagues from around the Commonwealth as we work together to help leverage the Commonwealth advantage for greater impact.”

CAP President, Jua Cilliers said:
“Recognising the urgency of our shared challenges in urbanization and climate change, the Commonwealth Association of Planners is deeply committed to the principles and goals of BEPIC. Together, we can forge transformative pathways that not only respect our diverse cultural landscapes but also strengthen the resilience of our cities”.

CASLE President Joseph Ajanlekoko said:
“CASLE is delighted to renew our collaborative efforts with our colleagues in BEPIC. The challenges facing our professions within the commonwealth are numerous and diverse and only by facing them together do we have a chance of success.”

CEC President, Dawn Bonfield MBE said:
“What we know as built environment professionals is that none of us can work independently from one another, and this collaboration represents the reality of the systems in which we all exist, so we are delighted to be working together with BEPIC colleagues on these shared objectives.”

BEPIC Objectives

  1. Encourage a positive environment within which the partners can foster a collaborative environment to work effectively together.
  2.  Establish a foundation for collective action in key areas such as advocacy, capacity building, and climate action.
  3. Encourage the joint promotion of diversity within the built environment professions across the Commonwealth.
  4. Provide a mechanism at a senior level for continuing dialogue between the partners.

05 June 2024

CAA participates in COP28 Climate Summit, Dubai, UAE

CAA attends the opening ceremony of COP28 Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum

Through its engagement with the Sustainable Markets Initiatives, the CAA was invited to attend the opening of the COP28 Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum. The reception was held in the presence of His Majesty King Charles III and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Opening of the COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum
Opening of the COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum
Opening of the COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum
Opening of the COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum

CAA participates in a roundtable on 'Building partnerships to deliver climate action in cities, in the Commonwealth and beyond.'

The CAA participated in a roundtable hosted jointly by The King’s Foundation and Community Jameel on the subject of ‘Building partnerships to deliver climate action in cities, in the Commonwealth and beyond.’

With cities accounting for over 70% of global CO2 emissions, and the world’s urban population forecast to increase by 2.5bn by 2050, it’s vital that the growth of cities is managed sustainably.

Nearly 50% of the projected increase in the world’s urban population is forecast to be in Commonwealth countries, with most of that growth taking place in secondary or intermediate cities, the majority of which lack the capacity to plan effectively for sustainable urban expansion. Yet failure to achieve sustainable urbanisation will have disastrous implications for people, planet and prosperity.

With its shared values, derived from the Commonwealth Charter, and its rich ecosystem, the Commonwealth provides the perfect platform from which to develop transformative solutions for addressing these challenges which are both scalable and replicable.

Attendees at the roundtable included representatives from the Government of Zambia, the Rwanda Green Fund, Africa Speciality Risks, C40, Ordnance Survey, WaterAid, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Kenya Green Building Society and others. The roundtable identified ‘data’ as offering the potential for collaboration between the public and private sectors to enhance better decision making and participants undertook to take forward the discussion in a follow-up workshop.

Policy Adviser to the President of Zambia. Ms Chipokota Mwanawasa
Policy Adviser to the President of Zambia. Ms Chipokota Mwanawasa

CAA attends the COP28 Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum

The CAA was represented at the COP28 Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum. The forum provided a platform to convene and engage private sector CEOs and philanthropists from around the world, alongside Heads of State/Government, with a two-day program focused on accelerating solutions and driving bolder results for climate and nature.

The forum included a number of sessions relevant to the built environment sector including: ‘Building City Resilience: Financing Solutions’, ‘Sustainable Steel: Pioneering Low-Carbon Building Solutions’ and ‘Scaling up Innovation in the Built Environment: A Blueprint for Net-Zero’. The forum built upon the SMI roundtable which took place in Nairobi in November 2023 during the State visit of King Charles III to Kenya.

Opening session of the COP28 Business & Philanthropy Forum
Opening session of the COP28 Business & Philanthropy Forum

RIBA President, Muyiwa Oki, represents the CAA at an event hosted by the Global Alliance for Buildings & Construction

RIBA President, Muyiwa Oki, represented the CAA at an event hosted by the Global Alliance for Buildings & Construction which recognises that a decarbonized and resilient built environment is urgently required to minimise the impacts of climate change on communities. In line with the GlobalABC’s mission and vision for a decarbonised and resilient building and construction sector, the session showed how different organizations are working to accelerate the decarbonization and resilience in the building sector by offering  education, capacity building, guidance and data to help promote greater awareness and understnding of climate issues.

Included in this effort is the work being undertaken by the CAA, in collaboration with IFC Edge, to promote climate literacy among teaching faculty throughout schools of architecture in the Commonwealth.

Panel discussion hosted by the Global ABC at COP28
Panel discussion hosted by the Global ABC at COP28

2024 CAA Awards Programme launched

2024 CAA Awards Programme addresses Global Challenges.

The 2024 CAA Award Programme will recognise the work of architects and students that engages with contemporary challenges such as climate change and rapid urbanisation together with associated increases in vulnerability, inequality, and biodiversity loss.

Purpose of the Programme

The Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) is committed to delivering on its charter objectives: ‘To maximise the contribution by architects to the well-being of society’ and ‘helping to create a better world for tomorrow, today’.  As the world continues to grapple with the combined challenges of climate change and rapid urbanisation together with associated increases in vulnerability, inequality and biodiversity loss, the 2024 CAA awards programme has been developed to recognise the work of architects that has made a demonstrable contribution to addressing such issues and contributes to delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

The awards are free to enter.

Award Categories

Lifetime Achievement

  • CAA Lifetime Achievement Award (also known as the CAA Robert Matthew Lifetime Achievement Award): The CAA Lifetime Achievement Award recognises a Commonwealth architect, or architectural practice, whose body of work is considered to have made a significant impact to the advancement of architecture in the Commonwealth over a number of years.

Professional Practice

  • CAA Environmental Impact Award: The CAA Environmental Impact Award will recognise work in any sector which can demonstrate having achieved a significant positive environmental impact in areas such as circular economy, energy & carbon, water, ecology & biodiversity and/or connectivity & transport.
  • CAA Social Impact Award: The CAA Social Impact Award will recognise work in any sector which can demonstrate having achieved significant positive social impact in areas such as affordability, community development, health & well-being, and social value.

Education

  • CAA Student Award: The CAA Student Award will recognise the work of students in Years 1-3 which creatively addresses issues associated with social, economic, and environmental well-being in the context of the current biodiversity crisis and climate emergency.
  • CAA President’s Award: The CAA President’s Award will recognise the work of students in Years 4, 5 & 6 which critically and creatively addresses the issues associated with social, economic, and environmental well-being in the context of the current biodiversity crisis and climate emergency.

See below for details of the 2024 award categories, award criteria and submission details:

Jury Members

The CAA is pleased to confirm the composition of the juries for the 2024 Awards Programme as follows:

Lifetime Achievement & Professional Practice

  • CAA Chair of Professional Practice: Ms Mina Hasman, (United Kingdom)
  • Caribbean & Americas: Mr Bryan Bullen, (Grenada)
  • Europe: Ms Nana Biamah-Ofosu (United Kingdom)
  • Africa: Mr Christian Benimana (Rwanda)
  • Asia: Prof Rafiq Azam, (Bangladesh)
  • Pacific: Ms Caroline Pidcock, (Australia)

Education

  • CAA Chair of Education: Mr Alex Ndibwami, (Kigali Rwanda)
  • Caribbean & Americas: Ms Nooshin Esmaeili, (Canada)
  • Europe: Dr Byron Ioannou, (Cyprus)
  • Africa: Dr Hermie Delport, (South Africa)
  • Asia: Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, (Pakistan)
  • Pacific: Dr Rachel Hurst, (Australia)

Past Winners

Past winners of the CAA Lifetime Achievement Award have included:

  • 1983, Philip Cox AO, (Australia)
  • 1985, Arup Associates, (UK)
  • 1989, Raj Rewal, (India)
  • 1991, Hampshire County Council Architects Department, (UK)
  • 1994, Ian Ritchie Architects, (UK)
  • 1997, Gregory Burgess Architects, (Australia)
  • 2000, TR Hamzah and Yeang, (Malaysia)
  • 2003, Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, (India)
  • 2016, Joint winner, Grimshaw Architects, (UK)
  • 2016, Joint winner, Pervaiz Vandal & Associates, (Pakistan)
  • 2019, Prof Richard England, (Malta)
  • 2022, Rafiq Azam, Shatotto Studio, (Bangladesh)

CAA hosts online event on Mutual Recognition Agreements

Overview

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA’s) enable architects from one country to work seamlessly in another. The CAA hosted an online event on 07 November 2023 to consider the ways in which such MRAs work with reference to the recent agreement that has been signed between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Participants also heard perspectives from other Commonwealth regions, including East Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Contributors also reflected on some of the challenges and opportunities such agreements create.

CAA participates in private sector roundtable at UN-Habitat

Leaders consider how to address the barriers to sustainable development.

As part of HM’s visit to Kenya, a roundtable was hosted by the Sustainable Markets Initiative on 01 November 2023 at the United Nations Office Nairobi at (UNON) to explore how the private sector can best support the achievement of African Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while responding to the needs of cities and citizens, notably in the high demand areas of Energy, Agriculture, Health, Urban Development and Finance. The roundtable included Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and experts based in Kenya and the wider African continent together with CEOs the leaders of foreign multinationals. The discussion focused on the barriers to transition and how can these be removed.

The Sustainable Markets Initiative was launched by His Majesty King Charles III, when he was Prince of Wales, in 2020 at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. SMI’s mandate, better known as the Terra Carta, has a mission to build a coordinated global effort to enable the private sector to accelerate the achievement of global climate, biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goal targets.

SMI Roundtable, Nairobi.
SMI Roundtable, Nairobi, Nov 2023.

Sustainable Cities & Human Settlements

The CAA was represented by its President, Mr Peter Oborn, who participated as a representative of the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative (CSCI) and as a member of a five-person sustainable cities group comprising  Ms Nasra Nanda, Chief Executive Officer at the Kenya Green Building Society, Ms Shipra Narang Suri, Chief, Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat, Mr Shahrukh Wani, Cities Economist at the International Growth Centre, Mr Jeremy Cross from The Prince’s Foundation and Ms Amaka Godfrey  from Water Aid.

The briefing for the event recognised that urban populations are growing rapidly across Africa, invariably unplanned, and with acute implications for rising greenhouse gas emissions and basic human needs. Simultaneously, fast-growing cities present a burgeoning supply of human capital, entrepreneurship, networks and financing. Sustainable cities are a natural point of convening for delivery of interlinked climate and SDG targets and the built environment is a driver to champion investment, energy efficiency, and foster connections across sectors. Opportunities for delivering economic benefit from urban growth include:

  • Planning & Land Use: Building capacity to help promote integrated land use planning and effective value creation.
  • Infrastructure: Provision of public transport, energy, waste and water to serve Africa’s rapidly growing urban populations.
  • Housing: Developing affordable, low carbon housing and associated housing finance products to address the current deficit of over 50m units in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Education & Healthcare: Delivering facilities within mixed-use development to promote skills development together with health and well-being.
  • Private Sector Participation: Developing bankable projects which are resilient and climate smart, in positive partnerships with local government and non-state actors.

Sustainable Markets will not achieved without Sustainable Cities

The roundtable concluded with the recognition that sustainable markets will not be achieved without sustainable cities. The group recognised the need for innovative financing and procurement options together with the need for greater understanding between those working in policy development, programme development, project definition and business case preparation. The importance of data sharing between the public and private sector was also recognised, to support better evidence based decision making, to reduce risk and increase impact while simultaneously improving return on capital. The group resolved to take forward the discussion to COP28 and beyond.

The Sustainable Markets Initiative also used the opportunity presented by the roundtable to launch its Africa Council, which will showcase progress being made across the region while focusing on building global, regional, and local partnerships across industry and finance to deliver meaningful transition results.

Plenary session at UNON
HM The King address UN Habitat and UNEP staff at UNON

HM King Charles III expresses his thanks for the work of staff at UNON

Following the roundtable, a plenary discussion took place, hosted by the British Foreign Secretary The Rt Hon James Cleverly. On completion of the panel discussion, His Majesty joined those present to express his thanks for the work being undertaken by UN-Habitat and UNEP, before then meeting participants from the roundtable.

CAA launches important new knowledge sharing partnership

Tackling global challenges together

A landmark agreement has been made that will enable vital knowledge and expertise to be shared between Commonwealth countries to address the twin global challenges of rapid urbanisation and environmental degradation.

The agreement has been signed by 10 members of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) representing national architecture professional bodies in Commonwealth countries across five continents. It seeks to ensure that all member countries, particularly those experiencing the fastest expansion of their towns and cities and facing the most urgent climate-related threats, are adequately equipped with the capacity and skills to create inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable urban areas.

The CAA warns that, unless currents trends are reversed, rapid urbanisation will have a devastating impact on our eco-systems, with serious social, economic, and environmental consequences, especially for coastal cities, and cities in small island developing states.

Led by the CAA and developed in partnership with its member organisations, the agreement, consisting of a Memorandum of Understanding, underlines the central role that built environment professionals can play in developing solutions to global sustainability challenges.

The initiative

The initiative highlights that:

  • Cities already consume more than two thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of all carbon emissions.
  • Over the next 30 years the populations of cities in Commonwealth countries are expected to double from one billion to two billion people, accounting for nearly 50% of the forecasted growth in the world’s urban population by 2050.
  • With 95% of the cities most at risk from climate change located in Africa and Asia, much of this increase will be in the Commonwealth countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
  • Many of the countries urbanising most rapidly, suffer a critical lack of built environment capacity and expertise. For example, Uganda, only has around 250 architects and 100 planners, despite having a population of 48 million, urbanising at a rate of over 6% per year. By comparison, the UK has 41,500 architects and 22,000 planners and a population of 67 million, urbanising at a rate of 1% a year.
  • This lack of professional capacity is often coupled with a lack of capacity in education and weaknesses in areas such as planning and building codes, especially in the public sector and in secondary cities where most urban dwellers live.

To counter this, the CAA-led initiative will use the Commonwealth and its networks, focusing most urgently on countries facing the most immediate challenges. Activities will include collaboration to develop capacity in areas including policy and legislation, learning and development, and urban planning and design. It will aim to increase professional competency and climate literacy in sustainable urbanisation and climate action.

The initiative will also support advocacy for those countries in greatest need, while encouraging national governments and donors to offer assistance and investment. It is hoped that this will increase the pipeline of sustainable building projects that are also financially viable and beneficial to local communities.

Designed to facilitate a dynamic exchange between the signatory organisations , the agreement recognises that some commonwealth countries are already dealing with the direct impacts of climate change that others are likely to face in years or decades to come.

Founding signatories

The list of founding signatory organisations is as follows:

  • Antigua & Barbuda Institute of Architects (ABIA)
  • Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK)
  • Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA)
  • Barbados Institute of Architects (BIA)
  • Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB)
  • Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP)
  • Jamaican Institute of Architects (JIA)
  • Kamra Tal-Periti, (Malta) (KTP)
  • Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA)
  • Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • Rwanda Institute of Architects (RIA)
  • South African Institute of Architects (SAIA)
  • Trinidad & Tobago Institute of Architects (TTIA)
  • Uganda Society of Architects (USA)

All CAA Member Organisations have been invited to become signatories.

Memorandum of Understanding

Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) President, Peter Oborn, said:

“The CAA is grateful to the founding signatories for their commitment to this exciting new partnership and are encouraged by the high level of interest that has been shown by member organisations. The initiative has been developed in direct response to the findings of a Survey  of Built Environment Professions in the Commonwealth which identified a critical lack of capacity in many of the Commonwealth countries which are experiencing rapid urbanisation and are among the most vulnerable to climate impacts. Only by working together in this way will we be able to confront the challenges we face, and the Commonwealth with its share values, provides the perfect platform from which to do so.”

CAA launches new partnership with IFC Edge

IFC Edge

Supporting Teaching Faculty to advance Climate Action

At the UN Habitat Assembly on 5 June 2023, IFC Edge and the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) agreed to collaborate to promote the IFC’s ‘Designing for Greater Efficiency’ (DfGE) course among the CAA’s extensive network of teaching faculty, students and built environment professionals.

With Commonwealth countries accounting for nearly 50% of the projected increase in the world’s urban population to 2050 and over 95% of that growth taking place in Asia and Africa, built environment professionals across the Commonwealth need to have the necessary skills to engage with the twin challenges of climate change and rapid urbanisation.

A recent survey, published by the CAA, showed that there is a critical lack of capacity among built environment professionals in the Commonwealth countries which are urbanising most rapidly and are among the most vulnerable to Climate Change, a situation which is aggravated by a corresponding lack of educational capacity and weakness in built environment policy, ie planning policy and building code.

The DfGE course has been developed, curated, and offered by IFC to advance the cause of sustainability in the built environment. The course is offered in both online and in-person modes and encourages the development of skills, knowledge, and attitudes to support the built environment’s transition to a low-carbon path. The DfGE Course is aimed at teaching faculty and students together with senior architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and building design students as well as professionals and building design practitioners who wish to improve their climate literacy while learning how to design resource-efficient buildings.

In addition to the environmental benefits, resource-efficient buildings offer operational savings, higher commercial returns, and quicker sales cycles. By building green, developers in many countries access benefits from both commercial banking, in the form of green financial products, and the public sector through policy incentives.

Speaking at a side event at the UN Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, CAA President Peter Oborn said: ‘For the past few years the CAA has been working with Commonwealth partners on a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth and were delighted when Heads adopted a Declaration on Sustainable Urbanisation at CHOGM 2022. Our new partnership with IFC Edge will enable us to deliver one of our key objectives, to develop practical action which is both scalable and replicable.”

Published: 05 June 2023

CAA forms new partnership to focus on Urban Law

Helping to advance human rights and climate justice

On 05 June 2023, at the Second UN-Habitat Assembly, three Commonwealth Associations signed an agreement to cooperate towards a joint research agenda, advocacy, capacity building and outreach events for cities, encompassing urban law, human rights and climate justice. This cooperation responds to the Commonwealth Declaration of Sustainable Urbanisation adopted by Heads of Government at CHOGM last year.

The partnership comprises the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) and the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and will focus on addressing urban vulnerabilities and positively impacting resource-poor communities in least developing, low-and middle-income countries. The new partnership will help build the capacity of national and local governments in promoting effective, climate smart and rights-based law, and will contribute to strengthening the SDGs in cities.

The collaboration will build on the work undertaken by UN-Habitat, concentrating its efforts on the following actions to drive change in cities, where it counts most.

  • Developing a legal checklist for cities as a user-friendly diagnostic tool to build the capacities of lawmakers, planning authorities, government officials and organisations, and identify areas for law reform for the achievement of sustainable and climate-focused SDGs.
  • Promotion, dissemination, and advocacy of existing UN-Habitat, CLA, CAA and CAP tools and data sources such as UrbanLex across Commonwealth regions beyond Africa.
  • Participating in joint research agendas on urban law, human rights and climate justice and piloting existing and future normative toolkits and methodologies.
  • Participating in joint outreach events during internationally recognised forums dealing with issues around sustainable cities and climate change
  • Spreading awareness, skills and knowledge of best practice legal methodologies, participating in joint training events and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events on thematic urban law and climate justice topics.
  • Collaborating with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other UN bodies with a view to sharing knowledge and building capacity and coordinating activity.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said, “We are confident that the collaboration will be fruitful and of mutual benefit for achieving our goals for strengthening SDGs in cities and believe that this cooperation could form the basis for a project to be jointly prepared, and a strategy for the long-term mobilization of funds to be designed.”

CAA President, Peter Oborn, said, “The CAA recognises the vital importance of urban law as a key driver of sustainable urbanisation, not only in terms of legislation but also in terms of implementation, and the Commonwealth provides the perfect platform for delivering real impact at scale. We look forward to working with partners to advance this important agenda.”

Published: 05 June 2023

CPD Season 3 launches with a focus on The Climate Framework

Session 1, Carbon & Energy

Register here for the first 60-minute session of the CAA’s new season of Continuing Professional Development for Professionals. Session 1 will focus on the theme of Energy and Carbon and will offer guidance on how to minimise energy use and associated carbon emissions, while also accelerating the transition to a global, decarbonised built environment. Key focus areas for this session will include passive design, active systems, and technologies, together with renewable energy generation and energy storage. Our contributors will illustrate how some of the core principles have been applied in a range of built case studies from around the Commonwealth.

A spokesperson for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) said: ‘The RIBA welcomes this CAA CPD programme that supports architects engagement with the UNSDGs and their role in delivering sustainable outcomes. The structure of this programme corresponds with our mandatory competence in climate literacy which we believe is necessary for all architects working across the globe.’

Published: 25 May 2023

The Climate Framework and its links to the SDGs

Architect Yasmeen Lari receives the 2023 RIBA Gold Medal

RIBA Gold Medal winner, Yasmeen Larri

2022 RIBA Gold Medal Winner, Yasmeen Lari

Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari has been awarded one of the world’s highest honours for architecture, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal.

Yasmeen’s work as an architect, humanitarian, zero carbon proponent, and champion of the most marginalised communities, has inspired a generation of architects to become change-makers, including many members of the CAA. Her dedication as an activist and educator seeking to make communities and the planet healthier and more resilient through architecture, resonates strongly with our own aims and we are grateful that she has supported the CAA in its Call for Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth.

In addition, Yasmeen is Pakistan’s first woman architect and a long-time champion of women’s rights. In particular the training she has provided in low-tech, participatory, and disaster-resilient methods has enabled disaster affected communities, and especially women, to become more self-reliant.

Published: 27 April 2023

Each year The Royal Gold Medal is awarded to someone who has had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture. Yasmeen joins Gold Medallists such as Balkrishna Doshi, Frank Gehry, Sir Norman Foster and Frank Lloyd Wright. and other extraordinary architects whose work has moved architecture forward.

Yasmeen retired from commercial practice in 2000 to focus on humanitarian and heritage causes, and it is for her inspirational work since then that she has been awarded the Royal Gold Medal. In her ‘retirement’ she has empowered communities by recognising the potential of locally available materials and crafts, and engaging people inthe design and production of their homes. Through this methodology she has delivered vast numbers of zero carbon, climate resilient, easy to construct buildings that can help mitigate the most damaging impacts of natural disasters and rapid urbanisation, and advance eco justice. She is known as ‘Architect for the Poorest of the Poor’ and founded Barefoot Social Architecture (BASA) to “achieve climate resilience, sustainability and eco justice in the world.”

Her activism extends to the preservation of culturally important historic buildings.  The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan was founded by Yasmeen and she is responsible for conserving a number of important historic buildings in Pakistan including World Heritage Sites. In recognition of her work, she was included in the 60 women who have contributed the most towards UNESCO’s objectives.

Yasmeen graduated from the UK’s Oxford Brookes University in 1963 and was elected to RIBA in 1969. An activist all her working life she became President of Institute of Architects Pakistan (1978); first Chair of Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP) (1983); and Founding Chair of INTBAU Pakistan (2018). Now aged 80 she has become Pakistan’s first Gold Medal winner and is continuing her humanitarian work with extraordinary dedication and vigour. We are proud that she is Commonwealth architect. Her extraordinary achievements, energy and teaching are an inspiration to all of us at the CAA.

Published: 27 April 2023

CAA signs capacity building agreement with UN-Habitat

On 5 June 2023  at the second session of the UN-Habitat Assembly, members of the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN-Habitat the aim of which is to help address the capacity gaps affecting local and national governments, urban professionals and academia, as well as other urban stakeholders, with a focus on Commonwealth countries that are facing the most urgent challenges.

The members of the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative include:

  • The Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • The Commonwealth Association of Architects
  • The Commonwealth Association of Planners
  • The Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Two-thirds of the world’s population are likely to live in urban areas by the 2050s. UN-Habitat estimates that nearly 50% of the projected growth in the world’s urban population will be in Commonwealth countries, many of which are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. The aim of the partnership is to increase the capacity of urban stakeholders in these Commonwealth countries to tackle such challenges.

The collaboration will focus on building the capacity of urban stakeholders, particularly in Commonwealth countries, that are facing the most urgent challenges to cope with rapid urbanisation and climate change. This aligns with Resolution 1/3 of the UN-Habitat Assembly (2019) on “Enhancing capacity-building for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the urban dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, UN-Habitat’s Strategic Plan and Capacity Building Strategy, as well as the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth, and the findings from surveys such as the Survey of the Built Environment Professions in the Commonwealth.

Unchecked and unplanned urban sprawl are universal concerns. In addition to urban poverty, today’s cities are also faced with issues such as climate change, environment pollution, lack of housing and basic services, migration and refugees, humanitarian crises and conflict, together leading to an increase in inequality, vulnerability and instability.

At the global level, significant capacity gaps affect the ability of local and national governments to cope with the demographic pressure and the ever-increasing demand for land, housing, infrastructure and basic urban services. Many local and national government institutions are inadequately equipped to manage cities and rapid urbanisation.

The collaboration endorsed by the MOU will:

  • Increase capacity of urban stakeholders in the Commonwealth countries that are facing the most urgent challenges to cope with rapid urbanisation and climate change through enhanced knowledge transfer, exchange of good practice and skills development.
  • Strengthen links between policy, education and practice related to sustainable urbanisation and climate change.
  • Increase awareness of and access to relevant tools for urban stakeholders working on issues related to rapid urbanisation and climate change.
  • Increase awareness among Commonwealth Member States and relevant stakeholders of the extent of the capacity gap and the importance of increasing commitments to address this gap.
  • Improve engagement from stakeholders, combined with greater collaboration between stakeholders at all levels.
  • Improve identification, definition, recognition of and engagement with key barriers and enablers both among and between key stakeholders at national, regional, and local levels.
  • Improve coordination and coherence between different stakeholder groups at both policy-making and operational levels.

Published: 05 June 2023

CAA mourns the death of former President, Mubasshar Hussain

Obituary

The CAA was saddened to learn of the death of Architect Mubasshar Hussain, former CAA President and President of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh who died while serving as President of the Institute of Architects Bangldesh. In its obituary, the IAB wrote:

“Eminent architect Mubasshar Hussain was Born on 27 December 1943 in Brahmanbaria. He graduated from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 1972.

He joined the liberation war of Bangladesh at a very young age and was a valiant freedom fighter who took part in guerilla operations inside Dhaka. In honour of his contribution to our liberation war a ceremonial gun salute was given to him today by the special police unit in presence of a government magistrate just after the funeral prayer.

Mubasshar Hussain served as President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) and the Chairman of the Architects Regional Council of Asia (ARCASIA). He was also an active organiser in the sports arena and was a former director of the Bangladesh Cricket Board. He also worked as President of the Brothers Union Club which one of the famous sports clubs of Bangladesh.

As a lifelong activist on burning urban issues and citizens rights, Mubasshar Hussain was the Vice President of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) which is most renowned environment activist group in Bangladesh and Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB). He was featured frequently as guest in television talk shows, where he spoke his mind without trepidation and with rationality.

Mubasshar Hussain was a great philanthropist, coming to aid of distressed and needy – often without the knowledge of others. The persons receiving his support included retired sportsmen and the common man.

In professional life, Mubasshar Hussain was the Managing Director of Assoconsult Ltd., an architectural practice which designed prominent edifices like the Grameen Bank Bhobon, Proshika Head Office etc. He served in Advisor’s role in many organisations including Bishwo Shahittyo Kendro (World Literature Centre), Grameen Telecom Trust etc.

His funeral prayer was held in IAB Centre on 02 January 2022 in the presence of Science and Technology Minister, two Mayors of Dhaka City, other eminent personalities of Bangladesh and huge number of architects from all generations.”

Published: 02 January 2023

 

Mubasshar Hussain, 1943-2023

CAA supports the Government of Rwanda at COP27

CAA joins Rwanda for COP27

Rwanda showcases its efforts towards Net-Zero at COP27

By 2050 an additional 2.5billion people will be living in towns and cities, and nearly 50% of those new urban dwellers are projected to be in the Commonwealth, leading to rapid urbanization in many member states. The cement and construction value chain alone accounts for approximately 25% of global CO2 emissions. Reaching net zero by 2050 will require the buildings and construction industry to decarbonize three times faster over the next 30 years versus the previous 30.

Rwanda’s efforts to decarbonize the built environment encompass the implementation of Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and the Green Building Minimum Compliance System (GBMCS) to the integrated design of neighbourhoods and buildings in the Green City Kigali project (GCK).

Furthermore, at the recent CHOGM in Kigali, Rwanda, the Call to Action for Sustainable Urbanization across the Commonwealth, which was developed jointly by ACU (Association of Commonwealth Universities), CAA (Commonwealth Association of Architects), CAP (Commonwealth Association of Planners) and CLGF (Commonwealth Local Government Forum) in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA), the Rwandan Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and The Prince’s Foundation , led to the ‘Declaration on Sustainable Urbanization’, adopted by Heads of Government.

Hosted by the Rwandan Ministry of Environment, the aim of the session was to raise awareness of the ‘Call to Action for Sustainable Urbanization across the Commonwealth’ and consider practical actions to support sustainable cities and human settlements as exemplified by the GCK project. Exploring the combined potential of applying energy efficiency standards, alongside green building standards and an integrated approach to urban planning and building design that embraces the benefits of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), tackles the reduction and sequestration of both embodied and operational carbons, while enabling future proofed climate-resilient urban development.

Published: 11 November 2023

23rd CAA General Assembly considers global challenges

Delegates convene in Port of Spain

The twenty-third CAA General Assembly was generously hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects (TTIA) in Port of Spain on 08 August 2022 and was followed by a congress which considered the professions’ response to global challenges.

Council Members were joined by representatives from member organisations around the Caribbean together with Bangladesh, Canada, Kenya, Pakistan and Rwanda. CAA Trustees, Sumita Singha and Annette Fischer, also joined the proceedings together with UIA President, Jose Louis Cortez.

The General Assembly was conducted in hybrid format for the first time, and ran smoothly. A number of changes to the Constitution were adopted, including a reduction in the term of Council from three years to two. CAA Council also adopted its business plan for the period 2022-2024.

Following the General Assembly, the TTIA hosted a two-day conference on the theme of ‘Sink or Swim’, which considered impact of man on the environment and the need for collective action. This was followed by the CAA Award Ceremony at which Architect Rafiq Azam from Shatotto in Bangladesh received the prestigious CAA Robert Matthew Lifetime Achievement Award while  Architect Brian Bullen, from COCOA Architects in the Bahamas won the CAA Design Excellence Award.

The CAA Student Design Awards also attracted much attention with the winner, Henry Kirungi from Uganda, Commendations to Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Africa and Jamaica. Special mentions were also awarded to Bangladesh and South Africa.

The event concluded with the handing over ceremony at which outgoing President, Kalim Siddiqui from Pakistan, inaugurated incoming President, Peter Oborn, from the UK, supported by Senior Vice President and President Elect, Steven Oundo from Kenya.

Published: 08 August 2022

2022 CAA Presidential handover with (L to R), Steven Oundo, Peter Oborn and Kalim SIddiqui.

Rafiq Azam receives 2022 CAA Lifetime Achievement Award

Rasulbagh Children's Park, Bangladesh, Shatotto Architects

Jurors Citation

“The collected work of Ar Rafiq Azam and by extension Shatotto Architects demonstrates a wonderful affinity with, and understanding of, their contexts The Architect has developed an exceptional body of work that exhibits environmental sensibility, socio-cultural consciousness, artistic flair, material and technical mastery, with generous elements of experimentation. He is also prolific in promotion of architecture through publications, solo exhibitions and visiting lecture ship. Ar Rafiq Azam pairs strong geometry and an often-singular material palette with verdant and abundant landscapes to create a heightened sense – a tension between hard and soft and static and shifting. The outcome of which is very striking. Upon first inspection Ar Rafiq Azam’s spatial compositions appear simple yet further examination reveals complex, carefully crafted and exceptionally executed works of architecture.”

Published: 08 August 2022

Architect Rafiq Azam and his wife with Immediate Past President, Kalim Sidddiqui

Heads of Government adopt Declaration on Sustainable Urbanisation

Photo courtesy of the Commonwelath Secretariat

Declaration recognises the work of Commonwealth partners

On completion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM2022) in Kigali, Rwanda, Heads of Government adopted a Declaration to prioritise a greater focus on sustainable urbanisation to address the impacts of rapid urbanisation and climate change in the Commonwealth, to ensure liveable cities, towns and villages for all Commonwealth citizens.

Recognising that Commonwealth countries are projected to account for nearly 50% of the projected growth in the world’s urban population to 2050, and that cities are responsible for over 70% of global carbon emissions, the Declaration acknowledges the need for integrated strategies to deliver safe and sustainable urbanisation and to support cities to mobilise resources to develop scalable programmes to address key challenges while reducing risk and vulnerability.

The Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Scotland, remarked during the closing Press Conference that “These Declarations provide the guiding framework for the work of the Commonwealth over the coming period”.

Commonwealth partners: the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum welcomed the Declaration noting that this reinforces the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth which was developed through a Commonwealth-wide consultative process led by the members of the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative (CSCI) in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and The Prince’s Foundation and published in 2021.

The members of the CSCI look forward to supporting the Government of Rwanda during its term as Commonwealth Chair in Office and to ensuring that the momentum and support for a greater focus on sustainable urbanisation across the Commonwealth achieved at the CHOGM is reflected in practical actions towards a more sustainable urban future for all.

Published: 25 June 2022

Sustainable Urbanisation features at CHOGM 2022

Official CHOGM Side Event, Kigali 2022

CSCI Side Event on Sustainable Urbanisation at CHOGM2022

During an intense week of activity in Kigali, Commonwealth partners, city mayors, ministers, representatives of civil society, built environment professionals, technical experts, development partners and private sector partners from all regions of the Commonwealth came together to promote the Call to Action with the support of key stakeholders including Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure, Hon Dr Ernest Nsabimana and UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, HE Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

The event emphasised the importance of effective partnerships and collaboration between all levels of government and other key stakeholders to ensure sustainable urban development. It also highlighted ongoing initiatives which illustrate the way in which the Commonwealth is already coming together to develop solutions that are both scalable and replicable.

During the course of the week, leaders from 20 national architecture, engineering, and planning associations from Africa and beyond came together to sign a collaboration commitment (The Kigali Commitment) in support of the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth.

Participants from over 20 national associations participated in the roundtable

CAA and CAP host Presidents Roundtable at CHOGM2022

On 22 June, the Commonwealth Association of Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Planners, working in partnership with the Rwandan Institute of Architects, the Institute of Engineers Rwanda, and the Rwandan Urban Planning Institute, hosted a multi-disciplinary Presidents Roundtable for 20 representatives of national architectural, engineering and planning institutes from East Africa and beyond.

Leaders came together to consider how they can contribute to implementation of the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth and resolved to commit themselves to work together in a multi-disciplinary collaboration:

  • To champion and ensure that sustainable urbanisation and climate action (mitigation and adaptation) is at the heart of our common future and is firmly rooted in the Built Environment Professions (e.g., architecture, engineering and planning, economists, surveyors, environmental specialists, and finance experts etc.) ethics, standards, principles, data and policies.
  • To develop and promote a Commonwealth dialogue in our respective jurisdictions and networks to define and implement a new way of working towards transparent and accountable multi-level governance, sustainable urbanisation, and climate action.
  • To lead the development of new partnerships and strategies within and between the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, and at all levels of government to achieve a Commonwealth-led response to the challenges and opportunities of sustainable urbanisation and climate change.
  • To come together between and at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings to review progress and to look for further opportunities to take practical action to address sustainable urbanisation, climate change, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • To promote and celebrate the Built Environment Professions as experts in sustainable urbanisation and in taking climate action, and to jointly advocate for the Call to Action to Commonwealth Heads of Government and other associated international organisations.
  • To invite the Presidents of all Built Environment Professions to engage in and implement the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation.

Published: 21 June 2022

Lusaka mapping pilot demonstrates the power of AI

Lusaka Mapping Pilot

Leading organisations Ordnance Survey (OS), the International Growth Centre (IGC) and the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) are responding to the challenges associated with urban growth, and the availability of accurate and up-to-date data for creating well-planned and managed cities, by piloting the creation of an automated digital base map of Lusaka, Zambia.

The Ministry of Local Government is undertaking efforts to promote prosperous and inclusive urban settlements, and ensure Zambia’s towns and cities are resilient to support economic growth. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for a better understanding of the city’s informal settlements.

Using aerial imagery provided by the Zambia Survey Department in the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, OS has utilised its advanced automated process to generate a new base map using Artificial Intelligence across 420km2 of Lusaka, incorporating over 300,000 built structures. This innovative technique is a rapid, accurate and cost-effective way to generate a detailed digital map that has a multitude of use cases, including the design and management of critical infrastructure services, land use planning, transport planning, land tenure, ownership and administration together with the integration of future census data. Computers are taught what to look for in images using training data; the technology then automatically creates mapping quickly and accurately.

The world is rapidly urbanising with over 55% of the global population now living in urban areas and by 2050, it is projected to expand by an additional 2.5 billion urban dwellers. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, is urbanising twice as fast as Europe with urban populations expected to triple by 2050.

The World Bank estimates that 54% of Sub Saharan African urban dwellers are living in informal settlements and between 50% and 80% rely on informal jobs. These settlements are overcrowded, often polluted, with inadequate housing, and limited access to water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, these informal sites lack the infrastructure required to support sustainable, liveable, and productive urban environments.

OS mapping data will help identify informal settlements, population and density, the number of built structures, the location of transport infrastructure surrounding the formal and informal neighbourhoods, as well as access to electricity, sanitation facilities and clean water. A sister project, led by Patrick Lamson-Hall of New York University’s Marron Institute, is contributing to this analysis by creating a typology of the various informal settlements and tracking their expansion over time.

Together this will enable the Ministry to better target investment in critical infrastructure and services, upgrading informal settlements to provide for the most vulnerable residents. It will also assist in better planning for urban expansion, which reduces the overall cost of infrastructure investment, limits informality, and enables more resilient and sustainable urban futures.

By 2025, roughly 440 cities in emerging economies will contribute to nearly half of global economic growth. Sprawling urban areas limit access to job opportunities and social and commercial services while also being disconnected. If well-managed and planned, urbanisation in rapidly developing cities can be transformative, creating jobs, reducing poverty, and improving residents’ quality of life with better access to healthcare and cleaner water.

With two-thirds of African cities yet to be built, and retro-fitting infrastructure being three times more expensive, sustainable urbanisation is one of the solutions to our ever-growing global population and can increase prosperity, while alleviating high levels of urban poverty.

Lusaka Mapping Pilot, video by Ordnance Survey

The world is rapidly urbanising with over 55% of the global population now living in urban areas and by 2050, it is projected to expand by an additional 2.5 billion urban dwellers. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, is urbanising twice as fast as Europe with urban populations expected to triple by 2050.

The World Bank estimates that 54% of Sub Saharan African urban dwellers are living in informal settlements and between 50% and 80% rely on informal jobs. These settlements are overcrowded, often polluted, with inadequate housing, and limited access to water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, these informal sites lack the infrastructure required to support sustainable, liveable, and productive urban environments.

OS mapping data will help identify informal settlements, population and density, the number of built structures, the location of transport infrastructure surrounding the formal and informal neighbourhoods, as well as access to electricity, sanitation facilities and clean water. A sister project, led by Patrick Lamson-Hall of New York University’s Marron Institute, is contributing to this analysis by creating a typology of the various informal settlements and tracking their expansion over time.

Together this will enable the Ministry to better target investment in critical infrastructure and services, upgrading informal settlements to provide for the most vulnerable residents. It will also assist in better planning for urban expansion, which reduces the overall cost of infrastructure investment, limits informality, and enables more resilient and sustainable urban futures.

By 2025, roughly 440 cities in emerging economies will contribute to nearly half of global economic growth. Sprawling urban areas limit access to job opportunities and social and commercial services while also being disconnected. If well-managed and planned, urbanisation in rapidly developing cities can be transformative, creating jobs, reducing poverty, and improving residents’ quality of life with better access to healthcare and cleaner water.

With two-thirds of African cities yet to be built, and retro-fitting infrastructure being three times more expensive, sustainable urbanisation is one of the solutions to our ever-growing global population and can increase prosperity, while alleviating high levels of urban poverty.

Published: 02 May 2021