Building sociological purpose into our buildings has been going on for decades. When we first started to build blocks of flats, it was perhaps a simple solution to a housing problem. We maybe didn't think so deeply about what the effects of these places could be, for better and for worse. There are plenty of great books on Amazon about it, which are worth looking into. Putting it simply, we had a problem to fix. The technology arrived at the time we needed it and it was quickly realised that building communities in close-knit living spaces had its own set of dynamic cultural patterns and trends. Where as slum living maintained a tight community, they only extended one storey and were predominantly occupied by members of the same social class and colour. New build estates in the 1950s and onwards filled a role for people of all colours and background. If you needed a home, and many did, one was there for you. Bringing people from everywhere into one place like this has been termed "Social Condensing"
Now, in the twenty first century, buildings are built with consideration for the effects of condensed social situations. The benefits of bringing people together are well known, and when the environment is set for growth and tension-free society, the outcome is generally positive. These things can be engineered into architecture. One such building designer is Steven Holl. With his iconic buildings work, Steven Holl takes into consideration the genuine effects on society of bringing people together in one common space. There's a wonderful hardback available which outlines his previous best achievements.
His stunning recent building for the American city of Richmond, Virginia, has a primary function as an Institute for Contemporary Arts. This public university building will provide another function of integrating society. Bringing people together under one purpose which has nothing to do with the differences between them actually serves to provide a cultural bridge in which all sides can meet in the middle. It's much like the concept that went into Culture World, a Facebook group run by Alternative Fruit. We'd love you to join.
Richmond is a famously conservative city, with many building styles having shown little change since the early days. This iconic new concept building challenges all these ingrained ideals that many residents will feel attached to. With a design that invites a naturally lit environment full of corridors and corners which inspire curiosity, the museum/exhibition centre will no-doubt encourage a lot of free thinking. From the days of brutalist housing to cosy and intriguing exhibition centres, big picture social purpose has become something that no building can be designed without.
Via Inspiring Good Living
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