Kids today — they may not have much in the way of job opportunities, but, as all those resume-padding trips to build Guatemalan orphanages attest, they’ve got plenty of idealism. Still, as architect Steve Badanes points out, it’s all too easy to “walk past a guy living in a box on the way to the airport to save the planet.”
Enter community architecture, a process designed to connect architecture students with the people and communities around them — and bring good design to problems, people, and places that wouldn’t be able to afford the high-priced field without it.
Community architecture programs are a variation on the design/build model in which students develop designs in consultation with clients and then provide the hands-on labor to turn their own plans into reality. It’s a notable departure from old-school architectural programs where students spend their lives in studio classrooms drafting and building models, and are evaluated on aesthetics, rather than considerations like livability and sustainability.
Badanes teaches community architecture at the University of Washington, but programs exist across the country, ... Read more