The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) recent rejection of a proposed amendment to its existing ethics code has sparked debate over the issue of design and human rights violations. The proposed addendum was drawn up late last summer by Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), a nonprofit organization advocating social consciousness in the design field. It stipulated that all AIA members would refrain from designing spaces involving human-rights violations, specifically those “intended for execution or for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including prolonged solitary confinement.” This would include execution chambers, interrogation rooms intended for torture, and “supermax” security prisons in which prolonged solitary confinement take place.
However, the main controversy arose when considering whether or not the amendment would be an attainable goal for the AIA. Although the content of the amendment was never in question, its clarity and ability to be enforced were.
Read more about the AIA’s decision to reject the ethics amendment, after the break.
Originally published by the Architectural Review as “Discipline and Punish: the Architecture of Human Rights“, this article by the founder of Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility Raphael Sperry outlines how prison design in the US and elsewhere is violating fundamental human rights, and how some architects have come to be complicit in these designs.
We think of architectural regulations as being there to ensure that buildings are safe for the public. But what if a building’s harm is not caused by unexpected structural failure but by the building performing exactly as intended? Can a building designed to facilitate human rights violations amount to a violation in itself? And what is the responsibility of the architects involved? These are the questions at the centre of the current debate in America around the architectural profession’s involvement in prison design.
Read on for more on the ethics of prison design after the break
In this interview in Metropolis Magazine, Raphael Sperry elaborates on the goal of his organization Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility to ban members of the AIA from designing execution chambers and certain forms of prisons. He explains why the AIA’s existing charter should make this ban a no-brainer as well as highlights the success and support the campaign has received, even in unexpected places. You can read the full article here.