Starchitect Sir Norman Foster, of London’s now infamous “Gherkin building”, gave a fascinating talk recently about his vision for the future of green building

What are the threats, challenges and opportunities of the green agenda, beyond fashion and survival? It’s easy, Sir Norman Foster suggests in a recent TED Talk he hosted – “Green is cool”, he says, “it’s about a celebratory lifestyle – a celebration of those spaces that celebrate the quality of life.”

In the talk he speaks about his time working with sustainability in his extraordinary career. He argues that the movement began when cosmonauts were able to “look back at the world” in the words of legendary futurist Buckminster Fuller. In the talk Foster speaks about the predictions that fuller made at the height of the Hippy Movement that are now, 30 years later, what Norman calls, “Common green parlance”.

But the exclusive design world that Foster, Fuller and their colleagues existed within at the time was ineffective until an important shift happened in the global mindset in the early 2000’s. Writer Thomas Friedman, as Foster mentions in his talk, wrote in the Herald Tribune, “I think the most important thing that happened in 2006, was that living and thinking green hit the mainstreet.” Adding, quite patriotically, that “Green is the new Red, White and Blue.”

Norman Foster architects celebrated their 40th anniversary last year and he urges in the talk that it’s still important, all these years later, to “design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future that is essentially unknown.” Wise words to keep with us as we enter the next era of sustainable design, a path Foster inarguably forged in his extraordinary career.

Watch Norman Foster’s ‘My Green Agenda for Architecture’ TED Talk here.