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Architects of Social Responsibility: Views of Humanitarian Architecture in Practice

Published at: 30 October 2017


The developing world faces the greatest challenge when it comes to urban development. Confronting seemingly insurmountable delivery backlogs, people living in informal settlements (or so-called ‘self-built communities), build more houses annually than the combined efforts of all governments and developers worldwide.

A handful of socially conscientious architects, such as Alejandro Aravena’s studio Elemental and Urban- Think Tank, has risen to the challenge and stepped in where governments have failed to deliver, and where the market sees no potential for profit. But, it is not as simple as swapping a drawing table or a hard hat for a philanthropist cap:

“This kind of architecture requires an expanded skill set - arguably, a whole new outlook. For one thing, architects working in poor communities have to be extroverts. They have to get to know the communities they want to work in, understand their needs and make them participants in the process” - says writer, critic and curator Justin McGuirk.


To read McGuirk’s full article on the interventions and challenges of socially conscientious architecture, click here

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