Author: Germien Cox, Madaster

Architect and visionary Thomas Rau has said it more than once, ‘The materials people use to make things, by definition, are limited editions, they are not infinitely available.’ This notion meanwhile also seems to have penetrated the rest of humanity and government, if we consider all the agreements with nicely formulated objectives for the future. So, will everything turn out all right, then? According to Thomas Rau, much more will be required, and radical and immediate changes are needed.

What is wrong with the current plans for the future to make the existing system greener and more sustainable? Thomas Rau responds with conviction: ‘Recently, the Paris Climate Agreement was reached. Everyone was ecstatic about that. It was the holy shrine of French diplomacy, and I have great respect for all who worked on this, day and night. Nevertheless, I say: the Paris agreement is one of the worst things that could have happened to the world. Because it is a universal agreement on the possibilities. But the Earth will not wait for us to act. This Earth does what it does. Which means that we must do what is needed, not what is possible. The Paris Climate Agreement is a total illusion. I can agree about whatever I want after 2025, but that is totally pointless.’

So, are we to lean back and wait for disaster to hit? ‘No, on the contrary; we need to act immediately. We must realise that, as free-thinking creatures, we have let ourselves be degraded to consumers and marionets of our current economy — a linear economy in which the relationship between people and money predominates. If we agree that the Earth is a closed system, we can all ensure that nothing will be lost from within the economic chain. Everything must be somewhere in the chain; in other words, somewhere in the direction towards the finished product or along the other end, towards the original resource. In that way, we would create an infinite closed loop.’

From a linear economy to a closed-loop economy. How could this be achieved? ‘By having faith in reality and showing courage. We need to dare to change business models and choose other ways of reduction and consumption.’ And would this mean there is no more waste? ‘When you imagine beforehand how everything could be dismantled later on, then it can be done. If you do not, then there will always be waste. Waste, in fact, is material without an identity. By documenting the materials within buildings, similar to parcellation and land ownership in the land registry, these materials will be taken out of the anonymity.