Scarcity, whether conceived of as an actual limit on resources, or as a socially constructed condition of uneven social or global distribution of resources, has been largely absent as a critical concept in mainstream architectural discourse. This issue of Architectural Design examines ways in which architects and designers may respond to these conditions. It argues that scarcity in all its guises presents designers with a new set of challenges; it asks them to do things differently rather than simply doing the same but with less. In this scarcity moves beyond the discussions around sustainability, placing architecture in a relationship with wider political, economic and ecological forces. Including work by world-leading thinkers and designers, this issue presents an important new way of approaching the design and production of the built environment - one that will be increasingly important in the coming years.