Designer’s Critique of Climate Strike September 20th

We closed the office and went to the climate strike on Friday. Lawrence and Weronika were away from the office so it was just a few of us.
Climate change
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We closed the office and went to the climate strike on Friday. Lawrence and Weronika were away from the office so it was just a few of us.

Architects and engineers met at the Building Centre and marched down to Millbank together. We were happy to see friends from Atelier Ten there and other people we know. Finbar (our intern from last year) was there with dRMM architects. Monika joined us as well–it was great to see her after she has been away from our office for a couple of months.

We also met Alasdair Ben Dixon from Collective Works. I met him at the Sustainable, ethical human panel at Here East, and he was the one who suggested we all meet up together for the climate strike and share some ideas. In the end, we decided to do the strike today and meet up to share knowledge separately, at the office. Dylan and Francesco, who are doing our branding, also came.

After the fact, we saw estimates that about 300,000 people came to the climate march. It was quite a site to see many young children marching and shouting. “There is no PLANet B” was a memorable slogan.

Our impressions:

Laura called some of her school classmates and many of them didn’t even know that the march was happening. Some of us wished we had promoted it more to people we knew. We were surprised by the variation in how much some people were informed and how much others were not.

The experience of it could have been more impactful. It didn’t feel like a huge crowd of people. We had a strong feeling that 300,000 would have been much more impressive if this had been in a location with longer sight-lines.

Several things can be seen in the diagram above. The main march path is sinuous and narrow. We lack long sight lines that give a sense of how many people are marching. Additionally, the path is mainly flat, meaning that you cannot get a strong vista as a participant.

The stage was located on the street in Millbank. This was under a large canopy of trees. It was almost impossible to see the stage from a distance. There should have been a giant projection screen, but there was none. Even if you had one, most people would be unable to see it.

Jeremy Corbyn was the one well-know politician we saw speaking while we were there. But you could not really see his face or hear very well what he was saying, because of the spatial arrangement.

We could understand the symbolic reasoning of having the march next to Parliament, on a weekday. But Parliament was out of session because the government has prorogued it. So there was no real sense of politics happening around the march. Media vans and reporters were also not highly visible.

Did we enjoy it? Yes! Are we glad we went? Yes. We would like to stay involved.

Conclusions? Whoever is organising these events needs to employ a designer to get some fundamentals right.

Note: 4 million people estimated in the world. Consider 1 million showed up for Brexit, just in London. So we need to do more. We need to find a way to get more people out.

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