The "about" section of Vancouver-based studio Henriquez Partners Architects' website boldly states: "We believe that architecture should be a poetic expression of social justice." While empowering communities through socially conscious design is hardly a new concept, the term "public-interest architecture" tends to call to mind images of low-budget constructions. Rarely is it employed to describe the large, mixed-use projects that have come to characterize downtown Vancouver and Gregory Henriquez's firm.
However, experimenting with different models of social regeneration through architecture is the driving principle of the studio's work. Throughout the years, Henriquez has explored concepts such as affordable ownership and dignifying design for the city's disenfranchised communities. In partnership with local real-estate development and culture company Westbank, he has built a number of projects that seek to equalize living conditions for all in one of the world's most affluent and progressive societies. Here, in an exclusive interview with ArchDaily, Henriquez describes his firm's ethos, his stance on issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, and gentrification, and the lessons he's learned in over 30 years of heading Henriquez Partners Architects.