Architecture & Social Agency
What is our role as architects, designers, planners, thinkers, doers, politicians, activists and members of the general public in this modern world? It is clear in today’s capitalist society that in order to get ahead and to succeed, one must put themselves in front of and over another human being. In our everyday lives many of us have forgotten what it truly means to be “human” and to have to emotions, feelings, senses and interactions that we as a species are blessed with. The touch of someone’s caring hand, the soft whispers of a friend urging to fight on, the smell of a freshly cooked meal, the sound of laughter and conversation. In this fast paced world many of us have taken these seemingly simple things for granted. However, it is a harsh reality that many people cannot afford the luxury of a simple hug from a loved one or a smile from a friendly stranger.
The community of Saint Canice in Rushcutters Bay, directly adjacent to the infamous Kings Cross neighbourhood, is a place of various lifestyles, social status’s, faiths, educations, demographics and ethnicities. Recently a trend of gentrification and displacement of not just the homeless or disadvantaged, but of even the “middle class,” has begun to take hold of this community along with many others throughout this city. This community and the people that bring such a large cultural diversity to it have begun to fade away into the high rise, glossy, cold office blocks and multi-residential towers that are beginning to swallow this city’s identity.
In response I have fought the usual premonition of many architects to fall into the easy, most affordable or “expected” design outcome of a major urban intervention. The human aspect, and more importantly those who sleep on the streets, those who wake up hungry and those who find themselves at a disadvantage should be brought back into the mainstream which has crudely shoved them aside. A simple manifesto of three main terms: NOURISH, SHELTER and SUPPORT has become the focus of this project and driven what is a socially sustainable and responsible agenda to encourage real change in this world.
Though it is difficult to summarise this large of a project within the allotted time and space given, it is important to note the ways in which I have viewed and worked throughout this studio. At first, the architectural intent shown here may seem a little heavy-handed in the project’s approach to large scale, urban intervention and “takeover.” However, I strongly believe that in order for architecture to make a difference in this world, especially in regards to social agency, it must either be extremely bold in its function and form or completely subdued in simplicity and intent. What binds these two seemingly polar opposites of the bold and the simple is its meaning, and the true connection of built spaces to humans, our experiences and the time and place in which these interactions reside.