During one of our initial conversations here, an architect described an interesting evolution. Originally, architects designed buildings for gods, then it was governments, and now generally, it is for rich people. The question remains, what is next in that evolution? To me, it is obvious, regular people, especially poor ones. I see some serious glimmers of such a shift taking place in the
The rewards of being deeply involved in the community processes are tremendous, but the challenges and fallout can be just as great. One of the lessons that is being reinforced here is that the more deeply you immerse yourself here in the community issues, challenges, and organizing, the longer the process will take. While the end result may be good, its impact may be limited due to the extensive amount of energy focused on the community and social issues. And this can be very tiring and difficult for architects to be continually engaged.
The group Architecture for Humanity has been really successful because it has been able to link architects from around the world to projects that really need technical assistance and the skills of architects. Often they are able to link up on the ground NGO’s and communities, where the bulk of the community work has taken place, and architects can focus on solving the problems at hand. I had breakfast with Cameron Sinclair the other day here in
There are many projects now that AFH is involved in and most of them are linking architects from the developed world to projects in the developing world. They are working on numerous soccer fields all over
I think relevancy is particularly important to architects. Architects are typically known for being obsessive about details and have strict ownership and control over all aspects of their designs. I think we do a good job of ensuring our job security by making sure we are always relevant. We are the problem solvers, and we love to feel relevant. I know I do. But one of the issues some architects here are struggling with is the need for outside designers, NGO’s, and professionals to eventually become in irrelevant in such communities. In essence, how do you release this capacity to the community? And is this really necessary? I mean, for the longest time, architects were completely irrelevant to just about everyone, as people have always found ways to provide housing for themselves. Of course, this isn’t necessarily about architecture, and it is an issue people all over the world struggle with, but I find it wonderful that an architect here is not only asking that question, but truly searching for an answer.