Trained architects possess the skills and knowledge to improve or modify buildings and properties, yet, the housing sector is mostly served by property developers and skilled labourers.
Designing is the backbone of an architect’s technical knowledge, but, these developers and labourers build homes designed with a ‘one style fits all’ approach, giving little consideration to quality, functionality and sustainability.
This approach is a response to the housing crisis that several countries across the world find themselves in.
A shortage of homes has resulted in an increase in mass-produced properties. These properties are inadequate, but are ‘affordable’ market-rate housing that offer little in the way of style and design.
In the current climate, and considering the speed at which homes are built, an architect’s designs would be constrained by budgets as well as the aesthetics of surrounding amenities and neighbourhoods.
Architects of today are socially responsible designers, and as such, architects involved in the design and build of new properties will no doubt embrace social responsibility within their practice and design – something which is immensely lacking in the housing sector.
We have a generation of trained and emerging architects and there must be opportunities to deliver their expertise with innovative ways to build, high quality, environmentally friendly structures.
At ArchiPal, we provide these opportunities.
We host a collective of architects, designers, engineers, surveyors, technicians and planners for projects big and small. With a pool of talent available, and with projects tailored to meet specific needs, this collective operates with principles of social responsibility. I’m sure many will agree, such a collective is a much-needed change.
Despite this, governments still desire to contract property developers that will build thousands of homes within a short time scale. This is echoed in the writings of Crawford and Fisher where they examine the ability of the architect to enact change for social wellbeing.
Crawford, through citing the history of the profession suggests that given the current economic and political climate, governmental requirements and policies would not be able to facilitate the practice of architects and their socially responsible designs.
On the other hand, Fisher argues that governments can incorporate the work of architects into public health and public law departments to assist and address the increasing shortage of homes and any negative impacts that may arise from such.
Crawford’s reasoning is that the profession is not on the same respected and protected levels as law or medicine, thus it has little influence on government and policies. Rather, it is seen as a want rather than a necessity and only speaks to affluent divisions of society and large corporations that have the financial means to build aesthetically pleasing spaces.
While Crawford cites history of the profession, Fisher cites alarmingly increasing population statistics to portray the need for socially responsible architecture to prevent a “storm about to reach land” given the possibility of ‘slum populations reaching 2 billion by 2050’.
Recent statistics show that within the ever-growing world population, approximately 1.6 billion people currently live in inadequate housing, particularly slums and settlements. With this comes a rapid increase in socio-economic issues.
Slums and settlements may not yet have reached western shores, but, the many countries are in the midst of a housing crisis, evident through government-backed builds across nations and these mass produced homes are in danger of becoming the a version of settlements.
Fisher emphasises this with a claim “that a disease born of such conditions could reach developed countries and put the entire world in danger”. Thus, he recommends that a department of architects should be created and facilitated by governments for social justice and equality.
Governments may not have such a system in place, but ArchiPal does.
With a new generation of architects delivering responsible design for future builds, the issue of a growing housing crisis is able to be overcome, so long as governments and the profession of architecture work together, then against each other.
- Margaret Crawford, “Can Architects be Socially Responsible?” Out of Site: A Social Criticism of Architecture. (Seattle: Bay Press, 1991): 27-45
- Thomas Fisher, “Public-interest architecture: a needed and inevitable change”. Bryan Bell, ed.
- Expanding Architecture: Design As Activism (New York: Metropolis Books/D.A.P., 2008): 8-13
- Read the original review here:- https://designfundamentals2.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/summary-can-architects-be-socially/