We’ll admit it: this is a loaded question that can’t possibly be answered fully in the short space we have here. However, it’s one worth asking because of the core values that the next generation of designers and architects possess that will guide them in shaping the built environment of the future. Central to their beliefs is that social justice and environmental responsibility can’t be divorced from the work of creating the homes and cities they help design. Scholarly articles have been written to demonstrate the value of this emerging practice of “social architecture” or “public-interest design.”
As further evidence of this shift in focus toward designing for the public good, software juggernaut Autodesk has launched a nonprofit aimed at “changing lives through design,” and the brand-new PUBLIC Journal, a quarterly magazine, plans to provide a place “where the world of architecture intersects the voices of activism, exposing a determination to provide good design for those that need it most, but most often do not get it.”
Interestingly, this year’s Pritzker Prize was awarded to 56-year-old Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who is known for designing quickly assembled buildings that have been used for humanitarian efforts in parts of the world affected by natural disasters. Similarly, Architecture for Humanity’s current programs to aid in disaster relief here at home and abroad show in tangible fashion that architects can affect real change for a world in need.
Image: Modular housing on the Thai-Burmese border constructed by Building Trust International, which is covered in PUBLIC’s first issue.