“We need a new spatial contract." This is the call of Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Venice Biennale 2021, as an invitation for architects to imagine new spaces in which we can live together. Between a move towards urban flight and global housing crises, the growth of more low-rise, dense developments may provide an answer in the countryside. Turning away from single family homes in rural areas and suburbs, modern housing projects are exploring new models of shared living in nature.
Husos Architects' work advances in an ongoing dialogue between design and research. Founded in 2003 between Spain and Colombia, the architecture and urban planning office stands out for addressing different scales, from the micro to the global, responding to the requirements of specific users but weaving deep contextual networks with the environment and beyond. How do they effectively approach this complexity, in turn promoting social transformation? We spoke with Diego Barajas and Camilo García Barona about their processes of approaching users and other agents involved –not only humans–, about how they address the colonization of the biosphere that has caused climate change, and about their inquiry into activism from a series of battlefields habitually neglected in traditional discourses of architecture.
Approaching the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities. A new spatial contract. Learning how will we live together. These thoughts brought by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Biennale 2021, may raise important questions about how architecture crosses and materializes social and political conflicts. To understand a more decentralized point of view, which indicates possibilities other than those dictated by normative mindsets, we interviewed Tainá de Paula, a Brazilian architect and community mobilizer in poor suburban areas.
Since the 1990s, copious amounts of cities in China have been undergoing urban renewal. Prompted by this state-facilitated urban redevelopment, skyscrapers are being built rapidly in major cities to attract affluent middle-classes, resulting in countless relocation and displacement of the working-class population. Such process is known as “gentrification”.
Due to population growth and an increase in urban density and real estate prices, architects and urban planners have been pursuing alternatives for new spatial configurations for settling and housing in the cities. The multiplication of shared housing and workspaces is an example of how the field of architecture is adapting to new ways of living in society.
Inspired by vernacular architecture, Kathryn Larsen is a bio-based designer working with seaweed. Throughout her career, she has been doing an intensive investigation into eel-grass, a material that has been used for centuries around the world. Larsen wants to apply all the benefits of this material (rot resistance, fire resistance, non-toxic, insulation characteristics comparable to mineral wool, and its ability to create carbon negative buildings) into prefabrication development and other technologies that enable the creation of new cladding and other elements, such as insulation batt and acoustic panels.
In some of the most dense cities around the world, it’s becoming an increasing challenge to find a comfortable space to live- and similar for when you die, too. It’s estimated that 55 million people pass away each year, and for every one living person today, there are 15 times the number of deceased. Yet urban planners and architectural developers are more interested in dealing with the living than dabbling in the business of death. As a result, it’s created tension in the two parallel worlds- and as time goes on, more questions are being raised about how we address public space that can be designed so that both the living and the dead can coexist.
The Un-Habitat or the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development, whose primary focus is to deal with the challenges of rapid urbanization, has been developing innovative approaches in the urban design field, centered on the active participation of the community. ArchDaily has teamed up with UN-Habitat to bring you weekly news, article, and interviews that highlight this work, with content straight from the source, developed by our editors.
Public space has always been a top priority in every city’s urban planning agenda and given today’s world context, these urban spaces have emerged as fundamental elements of cities and neighborhoods. Plazas, squares, and parks, undeniable necessities in the urban fabric, have become, today, more vital than ever.