Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

architecture of change: #architalks

Every month a group of international architects and designers converge on the internet to write about a single topic and publish from their own individual point of view. This is Architalks.

This month we’re asked to dive headlong into Architecture of ChangeDun dun duuuuuhhhhhhhh!!! *sound effects*

“Our world and our profession is constantly changing – how do you see architecture playing a part in this? What are we doing well, what could we do differently, what do you hope we’re doing in 5, 10, 20 years…” – Lora Teagarden 

We discussed this topic in a way for our Citizen Architect post some time back, but it is worth revisiting especially in light of the very interesting times that we find ourselves in today. The idea of change isn’t new. Change is all around us – politics, economics, civics, communities, churches. The one constant you can count on in life is change. So, how does Architecture influence change in society? How are architects involved in affecting that change, for better or worse? What is it about our profession that makes us so uniquely suited to this role and is there a higher responsibility that comes with that role that we should assume?

Used under creative commons license - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kj-an/

Used under creative commons license – https://www.flickr.com/photos/kj-an/

Architecture, in my opinion, is the arena in which society plays. It’s our playground, the place in which we interact with each other. And the forms and organization of our architecture directly influences how, why, when, and where we interact with each other at all levels. Architects, by way of our clients, have the ability to significantly impact positive change within a community, and architects are the creators of that change – for better or worse. Therefore it is imperative that architects think not just about good design and its impact for their clients, but rather at all scales – the client, the street, the block, the neighborhood, the district, the city, the county. Architecture is one of the primary vehicles for change in society.

used under creative commons license

used under creative commons license – https://www.flickr.com/photos/fsecart/

Currently I think there is a level of apathy that has damaged the profession. We’re still recovering from one of the worst economic disasters in more than a generation, especially for the design and construction industries. There was so much upheaval within the profession from 2007 straight through to 2014 – large firms collapsing, smaller firms coming onto the scene and quickly fizzling out. It seemed like the profession was in a near constant state of flux with old adages being challenged, new ways of practice being proposed – a collective chaos that had a damaging affect on the practice of architecture as a whole. Also in that time, and as a defense mechanism, we further cemented the perception of architects and architecture as a commodity as we struggled to get new work, competing with larger firms for smaller and smaller projects and in markets that previously had been fairly segregated by firm size. That perception lingers still.

Used under creative commons license - https://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyc/

Used under creative commons license – https://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyc/

But change is on the horizon. With the industry finally beginning to stabilize and with new markets and new opportunities beginning to present themselves in the areas of social housing, equity, equality, social and economic mobility, and a resurgence of our collective understanding that communities change through their architecture, we are starting to see elements of that change. I think the next 5 and 10 years are going to be very exciting. I’m energized for the future and am looking forward to many more conversations like this about the effects of Architecture on our world and the ways architects can use good design to better the lives of more than just our clients.

Image Credits:
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For more words of wisdom, check out these other arch-bloggers.

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Change — The Document Evolution

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
The Architecture of Change: R/UDAT

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Architecture = Change

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
My Architecture of Change / Hitting Pause to Redesign My Life

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
The art of Architecture of Change

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Changes

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
The Architecture of Change