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Just Architecture: Making, Participation and Empowerment

Gillick, Ambrose, Ivett, Lee (2018) Just Architecture: Making, Participation and Empowerment. In: Generosity Conference, 27-29 June 2018, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, Wales, UK. (Unpublished) (KAR id:72798)

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In the fifty years since the Skeffington Committee was formed to investigate how planning might respond to the broad trend towards community engagement in civic life, participation in the built environment has been stripped of its radicalism and left as little more than a tool for the manipulation of affected communities, serving to soften the blow of mediocre architecture by implicating laypeople in its development.

In contrast to earlier examples of participatory practice and theory, much contemporary praxis locates the value of participants in their ability to reflect upon lost glories and future dreams. Little engagement with the present beyond its relationship to this binary is undertaken, thereby situating the participant’s experience within a framework of values which explicitly excludes their everyday experiences. At best, then, the participatory process is reduced to a game which serves little purpose beyond the harvesting of ‘local flavour’ for the benefit of institutional actors imposing pre-defined agendas. At worst, participation acts as another tool in an already exploitative toolkit designed to distance participants from the value of their own knowledge and day-to-day experience. In any case, participation has largely lost sight of its original intention of giving the city back to the people.

Situated within broader sociological discussions on agency and constructivism in the urban environment, in this paper we discuss how participatory practice can regain its transformative, radical and justice-orientated agenda through collaborative and disruptive acts of making. We discuss how acts of architectural making can locate both the community and institutional actors in ‘the present’ through their inherently discursive, negotiated, situated and bodily nature. Making as participatory technique, we suggest, reveals and embraces community and individual values, knowledges and transformation. As such, it operates as both a mechanism for empowerment and also an informative analytical and design tool towards better architectural environments.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: architecture, participation, co-production
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Depositing User: Ambrose Gillick
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2019 12:26 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Gillick, Ambrose:
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