UNStudio has recently published a report exploring the broader scope of community building and placemaking in the post-pandemic urban environment. Through examples from their practice, UNStudio highlights various design strategies currently incorporated in architecture and urban planning that cater to the universal and crucial need to connect socially. In addition, the practice stresses the importance of “ third spaces” and human-scale connectivity, as well as the blending of digital and physical spaces of interaction.
Community Design: The Latest Architecture and News
When designing community spaces, the architectural concept can easily clash with the user's experience. Therefore, engaging the community and future users in the project development and design process is a way of adding different perspectives to the architect's vision towards a more intelligent architecture.
Johns Hopkins University has selected BIG to design its new Student Center, regenerating the heart of its campus and reviving the social experience, from a shortlisted list of 4 offices, after a months-long international competition. Entitled “The Village”, the proposal is an “open, modern, and welcoming facility envisioned as a social engagement hub for all members of the Hopkins community”.
During the next decade or so, our cities will expand at an inconceivable speed. According to the UN’s 2019 World Population Prospects, our planet by 2030 is expected to have 43 megacities —classified as those with more than 10 million inhabitants. Most megacities will be in developing countries. And by mid-century, almost 70 percent of the world’s population will be urbanised, with today’s rate at just over half. Moreover, 90 percent of the urban population growth is expected to happen in Africa and Asia.
As the climate crisis continues to unfold, professionals in architecture, engineering, and sustainable design have relentlessly searched for new ways to mitigate the negative effects of modern industrial production. One group of such innovators, Zero Mass Water, have contributed to this effort through their creation of ‘the world’s first and only hydropanel’ - an apparatus called SOURCE.
Some assembly required for this vision of future urban living. Known for simple, well-designed, flat-pack furniture, IKEA is proposing expanding their DIY-model to a much larger scale: entire city centers. Democratic Design Days is an annual event where IKEA introduces its upcoming brands and collaborations, this year featuring The Urban Village Project, a collaboration between SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects. After two years of research, SPACE10 (IKEA’s global research and design lab) is releasing their vision to the public for a new way to design, build, and share our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
This project emerged during the summer of 2015, when CHOPEkE Collective, together with Paúl Pérez, a seminarian and active member of the group, visited the community of Santa Luisa de Marillac, located in the central periphery of Ciudad Juárez. At the time, members of the community had an "unworthy" space -as they called it- for their meetings and spiritual activities.
The role of the architect—and even architecture itself—in society today is changing. A lack of interest in critical social issues from a profession that holds such high responsibility within a community is a problem that should no longer be avoided.
In an exhibit currently on show at the Center for Architecture and Design in Seattle titled "In the Public Interest," Garrett Nelli Assoc. AIA challenges the profession of architecture to establish a focus on more community-engaged design. With the help of the 2017 AIA Seattle Emerging Professionals Travel Scholarship, Nelli traveled to Los Angeles, rural Alabama, Haiti, Italy and New Orleans, all the while analyzing how the built environment has the ability to influence social change.
Read on for an edited interview with Nelli about his research and how you can begin to implement elements into your design practice to help promote social change in your own communities.
At this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial the directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda asked participating architects to demonstrate the “State of the Art of Architecture" by submitting projects that they felt told a story about architecture’s importance in society. As explained in this video by Politico Magazine, native Chicagoan Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects responded to this call by looking at an issue that has plagued American cities in startling ways in recent years: the troubled relationships between communities and their police forces. Often hidden behind fortress-like buildings, police stations in their current form tend to project an image closer to hostile than welcoming. But Gang believes it doesn’t have to be that way.
After the fire this past April in Valparaíso, Chile, a group of young architects went to the port city to develop a reconstruction project based on energy efficiency, recycled materials, and adaptability to Valparaíso's topographic context. The Minga Valpo project has not only achieved these objectives, but it has also allowed families to help build their own houses. In a mere three months, Minga Valpo has already built three houses.
Take a look at photographs of the project and read the architects' description after the break.