Can Architects be Socially Responsible? / Public-interest architecture: a needed and inevitable change Response

In my opinion Crawford is pessimistic in thinking that the economic structure needs widespread change in order for the profession to become socially conscious.  On the other hand, Fisher’s belief that the government can and should be an instrument of change is difficult to embrace given the government’s past and current track record with large-scale projects.  I believe the answer to housing the poor lies in hand ups, not hand outs.  One solution may lie in such things as open source blueprints for small scale living as opposed to a failed attempt at one-size-fits-all.  Distributed over the Internet at public libraries or circulated in print these adaptable designs engineered by design-build architects could pave the way for sustainably built, low cost dwellings.  In the process government funding could go towards tools and educating homeless persons with trade skills that can prepare them for jobs in construction.  Its an idea not far off from Drop City’s Dome Cookbook but adapted to the green age and internet age for more widespread and sustainable adaptation.  Architect’s can become the designers of basic model’s adaptable to various geographies and a spectrum of urban climates.  These catalogs could be developed and edited at the university level with funding provided by government research grants.   Funds once allotted to massive housing projects could be redistributed at the university level while paying for tools and trade education for those who’ve fallen on hard times.  Think of how many water filtration systems, construction seminars, saws, hammers and composting barrels could be purchased instead of building housing projects or paying for a growing homeless population to reside indefinitely at homeless shelters. 

Could green geodesic domes be an old solution to a new problem of homelessness and sustainability with architects leading the way?

Are there examples of successful mass housing? What design or policy actions could have caused some to fail and others to succeed?

In order to compete in a more socially conscious consumer market corporations are becoming more socially responsible. Should the government play any role at all or will the free market force corporations to ask architects for socially conscious designs?


About mhgoblue

Architecture Undergrad University of Michigan

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