Creating physical spaces where people thrive
Architecture and design is a means of improving quality of life
Sustainable development in the realm of the built environment and infrastructures would mean nothing without proper consideration of the very core purpose of architectural design: creating the physical environment into which people live and thrive, through interaction with the habitat but also amongst themselves.
Architecture is not just about building. It's a means of improving people’s quality of life! Francis Kéré
The 2018 Pritzker Prize Balkrishna Doshi writes about and embodies the concept of “Architecture for the People” in his projects. The meaning of which is the full appreciation of the local architectural traditions and crafts, while sustainably improving the local socio-economic conditions. Catering for people in architecture means first and utmost a respectful relationship with place.
The first ever Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction on “Basic Needs”, held at the ETH Zurich in 2004 encompassed the environmental as well as social dimension of sustainability. The Forum united experts and students from all over the world to take part in “workshops, debates, and lectures on a wide variety of topics surrounding housing, water supplies and road access, as essential elements of society's infrastructure”. The Forum has generated consensus on the statement that People is one of the pillars upon which sustainable construction is based. And addressing inequalities through architectural design is paramount to create the conditions for sustainable development.
Designing for communities through the lens of equity means enabling humans to face life with improved opportunities. Architecture can be a powerful tool for social and political transformation, and an effective advocate for sustainable renovation.
Responsibly sourced materials
The building materials market has a massive global impact, with a majority of emissions being generated by supply chain processes, or transportation and logistics of materials being moved from one corner to the other of the globe. Local sourcing of materials and labour is a powerful strategy to unlock carbon and energy reduction, circularity and regeneration, as well as an improved integration of an architect within its context.
Designers, policy makers and the vast array of stakeholders involved in housing development have the task of enabling living conditions that are dignified and strive to plan and advocate for quality housing. According to the UN Habitat, by 2030 around 3 billion people, or 40% of the world population will be seeking access to adequate housing. Another 100 million people worldwide are homeless, with disastrous impacts for their wellbeing and livelihoods.
Economic & social empowerment
Design can unlock labour and economic opportunities through buildings, neighbourhoods and cities that transform the way people interact with the economy in urbanised contexts, afford dignified living conditions and livelihood means, and improve sanitation, energy use and infrastructure. Solutions are systemic, and must be planned according to geographical, climatic, economic, social and political contexts.
Architectural and urban design can enable a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion through design and planning decisions. Including diverse stakeholders in the decision-making process triggers participatory design and more democratic design practices. Catering for minorities and vulnerable groups is also essential to ensure human rights in respect of cultural rights.
Conflict & emergency
Design and construction of the built environment is critical in mitigating the impacts for communities facing emergencies, such as natural disasters, warfare or pandemics. The movement of people caused by conflict and emergencies creates a high pressure on the system in terms of needs for housing, both permanent and temporary, and the need for services and infrastructure to accommodate ever increasing social groups with specific needs.