Architecture for everyone.

May 1, 2010 at 4:24 am Leave a comment

One of my personal architectural values is that everyone deserves some kind of shelter to call home. This shelter doesn’t need to be a traditional permanent structure, but it should be functional, (semi-)customizable, and something that an individual can be proud to live in and take care of. In a 2007 interview with Cameron Sinclair, co-founder and executive director of Architecture for Humanity, GOOD quoted Sinclair on his goal with the community-based non-profit: “We have tried to design with pride. That’s the real motive: to design with pride and not pity.”

This goal addresses a real issue in the architectural profession and in the perception of what architects do. Great initiatives exist to help architects expand their reach beyond the luxury market (including Public Architecture’s 1% Program, which helps architects donate 1% of their billable hours to pro bono projects). But the problem also needs to be addressed on vernacular side. For example, I’ve been wondering if the dichotomy of ‘regular housing’ and ‘affordable housing‘  should instead be referred to as ‘unaffordable housing’ and simply ‘housing’.

In addition to Sinclair, there are lots of architects, designers, and other built environment-conscious people that have a “pride not pity” philosophy. Check out the international firm MASS, hotelier Harris Rosen’s recent project for Haiti, and Robin Hood Foundation’s L!BRARY Initiative, for a start.

May 1′s daily design idea is good architecture shouldn’t be a luxury. If you agree, I highly recommend reading Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism.


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What is Design? (part 1 of many) Tribeca Film Festival 2010: stories of people.

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