Designing Inclusive Futures

Building communities through diversity and empowerment

Designing Inclusive Futures

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    Legacy Restored in Niger

    The project creates a civic space open to all in the village, supporting the education of women and strengthening their presence within the community.

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    Legacy Restored in Niger

    In the library, the use of earthen materials as well as the absence of any glazed surfaces help stabilise the interior temperature.

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    Home for marginalized children, Thane, India

    The children’s living space enjoys a vertical nursery on one side and views of the courtyard.

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    Indigenous Wellness in Canada

    Interior circulation space with timber structure as a forest of columns and beams defining spaces.

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    Post-War Collective in Sri Lanka

    Social Capital: The army's human resource is assimilated for social building through carefully planned on-site training initiatives. This reduces immediate labor costs and produces a skilled workforce.

In the realm of architecture and urban design, promoting more inclusive communities starts in framing the project’s objectives to ensure that diversity, equity, and participation through intentional planning decisions are fundamental. The process recognizes that local knowledge and concerns are integral to effective decision-making. Participatory design creates buildings that improve the physical, emotional, and economic wellness of everyone connected to the building, whether a supplier, neighbor, or occupant.

Last updated: May 15, 2024

Creating a physical environment where people can thrive

The UN-Habitat Strategic Plan underscores the importance of considering various demographic groups, including gender, age, and ability, within a human rights framework. Inclusive design engages with diverse stakeholders early in the decision-making process, leading to more democratic and participatory outcomes – that uncover many perspectives, experiences, and requirements.

Demographic shifts, such as aging populations, highlight the need for innovative housing solutions that integrate different age groups and promote intergenerational interaction. Initiatives like intergenerational housing aim to address this challenge while also fostering social cohesion. Similarly, Sustainable Development Goal 5 emphasizes the importance of gender equality and empowerment, recognizing the transformative impact of educating girls on communities at large.

Legacy Restored in Niger

Legacy Restored in Niger: Through the provision of additional spaces for literacy classes, accounting courses and workshops, the library serves as a mediation in the gendered division of religious public space to create a new public sphere that is welcoming to women and young people.

Exemplary approaches by Holcim Foundation Awards winners

Legacy Restored in Niger exemplifies how design can simultaneously promote gender equality, education, and community development, leveraging traditional knowledge and cultural resources.By involving women’s groups in the project, additional spaces for literacy, accounting courses, and workshops were added. Access to education plays a central role in inclusive development, as evidenced by initiatives such as the White Rabbit Home in India, which serves marginalized children while also offering facilities for seniors and women. The new design incorporates many of the children’s wishes, and includes playful spaces for interaction including a slide, jungle gym and swing, that are not available outdoors in the informal settlement.

Home for marginalized children, Thane, India

White Rabbit in India: The raised ground floor accommodates services for women and the elderly and the upper floors are reserved for the children and their caretakers. That this is mainly a space for children is reflected in the playful design sensitive to their scale and perception.

Addressing the needs of indigenous populations is crucial for upholding cultural rights and promoting respect for diversity. Initiatives such as the Indigenous Wellness in Canada prioritize indigenous cultural practices and community integration, demonstrating a holistic approach to design. The complex reflects the traditional Indigenous concept of wellness that acknowledges a relationship between physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions – and interconnects programmatic volumes serving three distinct functions: people gathering, education, and health assistance.

Indigenous Wellness in Canada

Indigenous Wellness in Canada: The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Center (AIWC) will serve Indigenous people who are often forced to travel out of their community for wellness services. It bridges a service gap between informal wellness camps and Western-oriented hospitals. In strong contrast to the institutional architecture of the adjacent hospital, the AIWC is intimate, de-institutionalized, and camp-like in its organization, form, and expression with strong connections to the unique northern environment and landscape.

Design can also play a role in post-conflict scenarios by providing training and vocation opportunities for former military personnel, as showcased in the Post-War Collective in Sri Lanka. The skills and discipline of the troops was deployed into the building industry: replacing guns with tools, using a simple and repetitive design to enable the ease of construction and aid training by building upon basic techniques. These initiatives not only contribute to rebuilding communities but also empower individuals to transition to civilian life through education and skills development.

Post-War Collective in Sri Lanka

Post-War Collective in Sri Lanka: The project re-integrates former soldiers into post-civil war Sri Lankan society. Young men from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds are being trained in building techniques through their involvement in the construction of public structures, such as the community library, which was completed in 2015.

Inclusive approaches in architecture and urban design recognize and accommodate the diverse needs and perspectives of all individuals, promote social equity, and foster community engagement and empowerment.

Find out more about the Holcim Foundation Awards projects that showcase innovative approaches to designing for social equity:

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